Tree-sit Begins on Mt. Wachusett
05 Aug 2003
For the time being, forest defenders remain from 80 to 100 feet up in mature red oaks with no intention of coming down. Their supporters are asking for solidarity actions and reinforcements in the face of the looming destruction of the critical buffer zone.
Mt. Wachusett, MA - This morning Mass Earth First! and other forest defenders took to the trees in the proposed ski area expansion on Mt. Wachusett just over the border in central Massachusetts in a last ditch effort to prevent the destruction of an old-growth buffer zone. After years of legal wrangling between the ski area operator, Wachusett Mountain Associates (WMA) and mainstream environmental groups like the Sierra Club and WEST, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently decided in favor of WMA's wish to clear cut a critical 12.5 acre buffer zone of mature red oak that protects the state's largest remaining tract of old-growth forest east of the Connecticut River. While final appeals are being considered, the last line of defense against the further destruction of Mt. Wachusett was put in place overnight. At least two tree-sitters have established their positions on trees in the proposed cut area. Their platforms are secured to trees slated for removal and they are vowing to remain "as long as necessary" to stop the eradication of the buffer zone. In addition, a road blockade was established in the vicinity of the tree-sits in an effort to prevent incursion into the buffer zone. At this time it is believed that police may have removed and arrested those involved in the blockade.
Responding to a recent call for assistance in non-violent resistance to WMA's plans, forest defenders in the New England region converged on the Henry David Thoreau Memorial Base Camp prior to the establishment of the tree-sit. The camp's name honors the legendary Massachusetts naturalist and writer who hiked up Mt. Wachusett several times and wrote about his experience in "A Walk to Wachusett". The mountain figures prominently in the state's long history being also a meeting place and sacred ground for Native Americans. Mt. Wachusett has many unique ecological features, most notably the old-growth forest at its crown and what may be the largest specimen of Mountain Laurel in the state situated dangerously close to the proposed ski expansion. "This ski area never should have been here in the first place", noted a Mass Earth First! activist going by the name of Red Oak, "This is public land set aside for future generations and meant to be protected against development. It was never intended to be the private property of Jeff Crowley and his wealthy associates, nor the playground for special interests like ski enthusiasts." Mass Earth First! initially took the position that the ski area should remain as it is and not be further expanded, however other regional environmental groups like Restore the North Woods have called for the shutdown of the ski area and reforestation of the mountain. Given WMA's intransigency against anything but further expansion of their highly profitable operation, Mass Earth First! has reconsidered its former position.
For the time being, forest defenders remain from 80 to 100 feet up in mature red oaks with no intention of coming down. Their supporters are asking for solidarity actions and reinforcements in the face of the looming destruction of the critical buffer zone. "The cops are all over the mountain now", reports forest defender Mountain Laurel, "We need folks to help us support our friends in the trees and the trees themselves."
For more information email: takeaction2001 (at) hotmail.com or go directly to the Mt. Wachusett ski area south off Rt.2 in central Mass. (bear left past the ski area entrance and look for activity to your right further up the road. Parking in Mt. Wachusett Reservation lot further on.)