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Keby's picture

I guess I've been volunteered to tell the first campfire story of the trip. I know some people like to hear scary tales around the campfire, but I prefer telling inspiring ones.

 

Julia Butterfly Hill
You probably think it sounds fun to go camping for a few days with nothing but a tent and some snacks to get you through. But what if you went camping for over two years, and instead of you're tent being on the ground it was way up in the air on the highest branches of a very tall tree? Well, one girl did just that, but it wasn’t just for fun. She was trying to save the forest, and this is her true story.


The girl’s name is Julia Butterfly Hill, and the tree she lived in is named Luna, which means “the moon.” Julia climbed into the tree to protect it from being cut down. She expected to be up there for only two weeks, but she stayed for 738 days (over two years), and never once in that time did she touch the ground.

 

Luna is an old-growth redwood tree that is hundreds of years old and two hundred feet tall. Trees as old as Luna are rare in America due to heavy logging. Julia went up into Luna on a “tree-sit” to prevent the tree and the forest around it from meeting the same fate. The loggers can’t cut down a tree, or those near it, while someone is sitting in it. So, that’s just what Julia did! Because living in a tree is so difficult and tiring, tree sitters normally change places with each other after awhile so they can rest and relax. After a few weeks in Luna, Julia formed such a strong bond with the tree that she promised not to set foot on the ground until she did everything possible to save that forest.

 

Julia Butterfly Hill

Now, living in a tree sure sounds like fun, but it is a very hard place to survive. Julia had a small wooden platform on which she lived, cooked, and slept. It was covered with a plastic tarp that kept the rain off her, but it wasn’t any good at protecting her from the cold and wind of the Oregon winters. She also had to go to the bathroom in a plastic bag and save it until someone could carry it down and throw it away for her. She was totally dependent on friends on the ground for food, water, and clothing.

 

Aside from the physical strain, the loggers themselves harassed her. They wanted her out and tried everything they could to remove her. They sent a tree climber up there to try to physically carry her out of the tree. And when that didn’t work, they tried to starve her out by preventing her friends from giving her food and water. They even tried to scare her out by flying a helicopter very close to the tree, and they constantly shouted and jeered from the ground.

 

Julia Butterfly Hill
Throughout all this, the tree gave Julia strength. In her book, The Legacy of Luna, she describes the beauty of waking up each day in the tree, calling it a “fairy tale.” She would climb all over the ancient branches, and would even go all the way up to the highest branch where she would sing, dance, and just sway in the breeze.


After all this time, she was becoming quite famous. She had a cell phone with her and got constant calls from reporters, radio shows, and magazines. Celebrities even climbed up into Luna to visit her. Julia was finally being recognized by the world, and help for Luna seemed within reach.

 

Negotiations with the logging company were long and hard. For many months she was busy working out an agreement with them, but it all paid off. Protection for the area was finally passed, and Luna was safe. Julia was sad to be leaving Luna, her best friend for those two years, but happy that through her total dedication to the forest she had accomplished what she set out to do!

 

Forest

Illustrations by Joda Thayer /  Colors by Ryan Wilson

 

 

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