RunningWolf Says Sitters Cut Tree Branches

Tamara Bartlett is an assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected]

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In response to recent allegations made by police of damage caused to trees in the oak grove near Memorial Stadium, local activist Zachary RunningWolf has said that tree-sitters in the grove did in fact cut the trees’ branches for preservation purposes.

RunningWolf said three to four people who had been stationed in the trees decided to prune them about four months ago by cutting down the top portion of a redwood and clearing the dead branches from one to two other trees.

The incident is currently being investigated by UC police, who have said the person or group responsible for the damage could face misdemeanor charges for vandalizing the trees, as well as charges for trespassing and lodging on campus.

RunningWolf said the treesitters were trying to take care of the trees by pruning them under the advisement of a professional arborist and were not cutting the branches to build a sleeping platform as had been alleged.

“We don’t remove any branches to make our own comfort because that would be against our way of life,” he said.

A group of tree-sitters has lived in the trees for over seven months, since the university proposed to build a student athletic center near Memorial Stadium.

Forty-three trees are slated to be removed in the construction process and replaced with two young trees and one mature tree for every tree cut down.

Campus Landscape Architect Jim Horner said that while he did not know all of the details of the incident, pruning the trees would not necessarily be a bad move for the trees.

“If what they said is true, removing dead branches is generally not a harmful thing,” he said.

But Horner added that topping the tree would be a bad practice.

UC Berkeley Grounds Services Manager Phil Cody agreed, saying the act of topping a tree could cause a “large wound” in the tree and create weakly-attached branches.

RunningWolf said the treesitters who participated in the pruning have since left the trees, which he said have a high turnover of people.

RunningWolf added that cutting the branches was done to preserve and not damage the trees.

“With the pruning, it helps regenerate the trees,” he said. “In no way do we want to damage the trees.”


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