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Tree Sitter in Willits Protests Caltrans Construction

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Bryan Loar/Flickr

HIghway 101 runs through the center of Willits.

A tree sitter is two weeks into her stay in a Ponderosa pine in Mendocino County, protesting a Caltrans plan to build a bypass around the city of Willits.

Caltrans has been planning to build the project in some shape or form since the 1950s, and is preparing to begin work on it this month. The six-mile bypass would move Highway 101 traffic out of downtown Willits.

"That bypass is going to plow through our entire valley, all the way down into the wetlands," says Amanda Senseman, the tree sitter who goes by the name Warbler. "It's also probably just the most destructive option there is."

According to Caltrans spokesman Phil Frisbie, this bypass is the best option.  

"This project will help alleviate congestion and also just generally improve safety for pedestrians and motorists," says Frisbie.

Frisbie says Caltrans will mitigate effects to the wetlands in the Little Lake Valley, which would be partially drained.

There's also a pending lawsuit over the bypass.

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