U.C. Berkeley gets OK to cut down trees

September 5, 2008 8:55:29 AM PDT
U.C. Berkeley now has permission to take a chainsaw to an oak grove next to Memorial Stadium.

University officials say Thursday's development in court means they can start chopping down the trees and begin construction of a sports training center at any time. But while they are ready to go -- they want the tree sitters to make the first move.

"We're going to do everything we can to avoid forcible extraction. We believe at some, the reality, the new reality of the situation will sink in, and cooler heads will prevail," said U.C. Berkeley Spokesperson Dan Mogulof.

Still, the tree sitters aren't budging. For 20 months, they've been living in the grove of trees to prevent the university from cutting them down. Four remain, and on Thursday night, they demanded yet another day in court.

Opponents of the sports training center will ask the state supreme court to issue a new order blocking the project.

"We plan to take this up to the California Supreme Court as of tomorrow morning, so we would like for them to respect our civil, to be chill about it and give us time to do that," said a tree sitter.

In the meantime, the California Oak Foundation and the Panoramic Hill Association are also continuing their efforts to stop the project through the normal appeals process, which could take one to two years. For them, environmental, traffic and safety issues are still a major concern.

"The fundamental reason why we brought this case to begin with, although the trees are important, isn't just about the trees. It's about the Hayward fault and a whole bunch of other of issues which are still here and we're still going to go before the appellate court and argue those," says Michael Kelly.


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