“Red-Tailed Hawk,” aka Will Parrish (a local journalist), issued the following statement from his tree sit yesterday, May 20th.
“On May 14th, I ascended roughly 70 feet into a 100-foot tall valley oak that stands in the path of the California Department of Transportation’s proposed six-mile freeway (“The Willits Bypass”) through Little Lake Valley. This tree, which has a nearly six-foot trunk and is covered from top to bottom with an intricate tapestry of lichens and moss, stands amid hundreds of ash trees in a lustrous grove in the north Little Lake Valley wetlands. The tree is certainly older than the State of California. It may be older than the United States of America.
This mighty oak stands like a sentinel at the southern edge of the ash grove. In its life, it has experienced the gridding, platting, and draining of its wetlands home for cattle ranching and the construction of Highway 101. It has experienced Euroamericans’ destruction of the Central Pomo people, who referred to the valley by the evocatively intimate name Mto’m-kai – a name that closely translates to “Valley of Water Splashing the Toes.” It has experienced the wetlands as they existed when the Pomo and early Euroamericans lived here, as an incredibly vibrant and life-sustaining ecosystem:
The tree’s days are likely numbered, though, as are those of the entire ash grove and nearly 90 acres of these wetlands, which CalTrans intends to drain, fill, and pave over to build its highway. It would be the most extensive destruction of any wetlands in Northern California in more than a half-century.