Save Little Lake Valley

Stop the Caltrans Willits Bypass!

Support Will Parrish: Journalist/Environmentalist Faces Eight Years in Prison

**be sure to look at the bottom of this page for ways that you can support Will!**

From June 20th to July 1st, locally well-known journalist and activist Will Parrish lived 50 feet high in a wick drain “stitcher” in the northern Little Lake Valley (ie, Willits Valley) wetlands, where the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) is building an unnecessary and environmentally destructive freeway bypass.

By putting his body inside the framework of this destructive equipment,  which is in the process of installing roughly 55,000 80-foot drainage tubes into the Little Lake wetlands, Will
blocked it from operating and brought nationwide attention to the harm CalTrans is causing the Little Lake Valley watershed.  This harm includes destroying the largest Northern California wetlands area of any project in over 50 years.

As punishment for Will’s 11 day stand on behalf of the Valley’s land and people, Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster is charging him with 16 misdemeanors (14 counts of “unlawful entry” and two of “resisting arrest”), with a maximum eight-year prison sentence.  He also wants Will to pay CalTrans and/or the CHP an unspecified amount of “restitution,” which could mean tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, which Will might be made to spend the rest of his life paying off.

About The Case: Punitive Prosecution

When Mendocino County DA David Eyster first filed a complaint against Will on July 2nd, the charges consisted of three infractions corresponding to each of Will’s three non-violent arrests protesting the Bypass.  This complaint included a requirement to pay undisclosed restitution fees.

Under an infraction, the defendant’s case is presided over by a judge rather than a jury.  Will was unwilling to accept the uncapped restitution stipulation and was also adamant about his right to receive a jury trial, so his attorney (Omar Figueroa of Sebastopol) asked that Eyster re-file the charges as misdemeanors.  Will understood and accepted that the infractions would become misdemeanors, and would include the possibility of jail time, but was not prepared for Eyster’s arbitrary decision to add thirteen additional counts for misdemeanor violations.

Notably, Will already endured a form of house arrest in the wick drain stitcher and was deprived of food, water and medical attention by the CHP (at the behest of CalTrans). The CHP even arrested six people who attempted to bring him supplies.  Will went for almost six days with no food, survived partially on rain water, and was bitterly cold after being drenched by more than two days of unseasonal rain.

About Will Parrish

Will is a 31-year-old journalist, teacher, and activist who lives in Ukiah, CA.  He has chronicled social justice issues and the environmental degradation of the North Coast for the past three and-a-half-years for the Anderson Valley Advertiser and other regional publications.  He graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz (BA 2004) with degrees in sociology and journalism.  In early 2012, he helped found the Mendo Free Skool (, which has offered over 200 classes on topics ranging from homesteading skills to political empowerment.  To view an archive of articles Will has written about the Willits Bypass, including his direct action, click here.

Three Ways to Support Will

  1. Write a letter to Judge John Behnke. Click here for more instructions.
  2. Attend the Sept. 21st benefit dinner at the Willits Grange. Will is the keynote speaker.
  3. Show up in court.  As of now, Will’s preliminary trial is scheduled for September 11th at 10 am at the Mendocino County Courthouse.

Three Ways To Stay Informed

  1. Join the Mailing List: E-mail supportwillparrish{at} to receive updates.
  2. Join the ‘Support Will Parrish’ Facebook page.
  3. Stay abreast of updates on this webpage.