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Sunday, September 7, 2008

UC Berkeley grove cleared of most trees

Authorities nearly finished clearing an embattled UC Berkeley grove Saturday, leaving a stripped, lone redwood occupied by four protesters.

The drone of chain saws and chippers drowned out the howls of protesters as arborists removed 35 of 42 redwoods, laurels and other trees from the site in preparation to build a $124 million athletic training center. The university expects to remove the remaining trees today, with the exception of the occupied redwood.

Twenty-eight trees around the perimeter will remain, and a mature redwood will be transplanted.

UC police continued Saturday to negotiate with the tree-sitters on ending their 21-month-old protest. The university has no immediate plans to forcibly extract the protesters, who are marooned on a few branches about 50 feet up.

"With the trees gone, the protest is completely pointless," said campus spokesman Dan Mogulof. "We believe the reality of the legal situation will sink in and they'll come down voluntarily."

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The painting is by Laura Tasheiko

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