Julia Butterfly Hill


Caption: Julia Butterfly Hill rests on her platform atop Luna.  Source:https://www.times-standard.com/2019/07/18/throwback-thursday-tree-sitter-offered-to-come-down-in-1998-timber-company-didnt-negotiate/

Isha Shah, In-Depth Writer

Julia Butterfly Hill dedicated two years of her life to Luna, a 1500-year-old redwood tree, in order to save the tree from being cut down by loggers. Hill lived on a small platform and faced severe weather, illness and death threats to protect the tree from the Pacific Lumber Company. 


Early Life and Work

Hill was raised in a camper with her family until the age of 10 and had never stayed in one place for too long. However, during middle school, her family settled in Arkansas where she resided for several years until the age of 22. In August of 1996, Hill suffered an almost fatal crash by a drunk driver while driving a friend home. Hill had to go through a year of intensive therapy to be able to walk and speak again. However, this crash enlightened Hill to take a spiritual journey, she explained, “The steering wheel in my head, both figuratively and literally, steered me in a new direction in my life”. 


Julia and Luna

Soon after her crash, Hill went on a trip to California where she found a group of frontline “tree-sitters” in Stafford, CA. Above the community of Stafford lies a grove of trees which was often used for logging by the Pacific Lumber Company. The clearcutting technique of logging used by the company led to a horrific landslide on New Year’s Day in which a majority of the community became buried under 17 feet of mud and debris with 8 homes being completely destroyed. Organizers of the tree-sitters wanted a person to stay in a 1500-year-old tree known as the “Stafford Giant” and now Luna for a week. However, according to Hill “Nobody would volunteer so they had to pick me.” Hill ended up living on Luna for 738 days, from December 10, 1997, to December 18, 1999. During this period Hill faced several obstacles and was forced to adapt to the difficult life of living in a tree. Volunteers from Earth First! supported her by hoisting supplies up the tree and she used a small 6×8 platform as her living quarters. The Pacific Lumber Company attempted to bring Hill down with a 10-day siege by company security guards, floodlights and loudspeakers, and even utilized helicopters to harass her. In addition, angry loggers would often send death threats to Hill while also cutting down trees near Luna in order to intimidate her. Finally, the Pacific Lumber Company agreed to preserve Luna in 1999 along with all of the trees in a 200-foot buffer zone. On top of that, Earth First! donated $50,000 to the Pacific Lumber Company as part of the agreement which was later donated to Humboldt University for research into sustainable forestry. 


Life After Luna

After returning to living in civilization, Hill decided to work as a public speaker and also founded the Circle of Life Foundation, which created We The Planet, which works to produce more sustainable festivals and tours. In addition, she has written several books such as the bestseller “The Legacy of Luna” which outlines her experience of living in Luna and the obstacles she faced. 

Hill rests her hands on Luna after returning to visit the tree after several years. Source: https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/environmental-activist-julia-butterfly-hill-climbs-back-onto-public-stage/?artslide=4