Protester comes down from Berkeley tree

March 14, 2008 8:11:58 PM PDT
The University of California, Berkeley got a protesters to leave his perch in a campus oak tree on Friday, a man whose crusade actually started just two weeks ago and is not related to the infamous tree-sitting protest next to memorial stadium.

At UC Berkeley on Friday, it was much ado about a man in an oak tree.

"His name is Fresh," said a student.

For more than two weeks, Fresh, also known as Michael Shuck, had occupied this tree just past Sather Gate. A statement against the university, its regents and policies.

Then, on Friday, a new protest started, against Fresh's protest, by a new group called Students Against Hippies in Trees.

And if, by now, it feels as if oak trees have taken over news from UC Berkeley, here's yet another angle, from the fourth floor of the life sciences building.

"We don't sit in them unless we're studying them," said Dr. Dawson.

Dr. Todd Dawson, Ph D., a UC Biologist, was practically giddy about these 3,200 acres of oak trees in Santa Clara County. A new grant they call the Blue Oak Ranch Reserve, filled with native, undisturbed oaks, which he and his colleagues intend to study.

"First of all, we can learn in the absence of grazing and in the absence of disturbance, how those ecosystems actually work," said Dr. Dawson.

Oak trees have been in jeopardy in California for at least two decades, and sudden oak death syndrome, just a part of it. The rest of the puzzle, is still a mystery.

"Can you imagine California without Oak Trees?" said Dr. Dawson.

As part of its investigation, the university will put wireless monitors in the trees. It will download data, plot and graph it and go with additional grinding and analyzing parts of the tree. The kind of work that continued quietly on Friday, right through the end of this drama on another part of the campus.

Fresh came down from the tree and people applauded.

"You know fresh came down today," said ABC7 Wayne Freedman.
"Oh! Did he?" said Dr. Dawson.
"Do you want to study him?" asked Freedman.
"No, not at all!" laughs Dawson.

After returning to Earth, University police cited Fresh, and then released him.

"Peace be with you," said Fresh.