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NOTES FROM LUNA – SPRING 2007
Stuart Moskowitz,, Luna Caretaker and Sanctuary Forest Board of Directors
Although Luna was attacked in late 2001 and in spite of that hateful and destructive act, Luna is not forgotten, Luna is not weakened, and Luna still stands straight and tall and she grows new boughs each year. Luna's message continues to reach around the world, perhaps even with more influence because of that malicious attack.
I write this story also, because, even after seven and a half years, people still write and call to ask about Luna and the agreement made in December 1999 between The Pacific Lumber Company (PALCO) and Julia Butterfly Hill. Luna became known worldwide when Julia spent more than two years talking to the world while living in the branches near the top of Luna's 200 foot trunk. Luna became Julia's antenna for broadcasting a message about sustainable forestry and sustainable living. And Julia did not touch the ground until PALCO agreed to protect Luna and the agreement was signed and recorded.
This agreement requires regular monitoring. So today on this beautiful spring day, I'm now sitting at the base of Luna inside a large "goose pen" hollowed out from a fire that burned long ago. I still come to Luna regularly as the monitor of the agreement, a legally binding Covenant/Easement protecting Luna and everything within a 200 foot radius from Luna. I represent Sanctuary Forest, the non-profit land trust entrusted with the responsibility of monitoring this Easement in perpetuity.
Today is an easy day of monitoring. No changes are evident since I was last here 10 weeks ago. The brackets and cables that were installed immediately following the attack show signs of rust, but still look strong. The clay mixture pressed into the cut as directed by a Cherokee Earth Medicine Healer shows signs of cracking, so this summer will be a good time to repack the clay. Today , however, is a good day just to lean back against Luna and think and write and nap and eat.
I last wrote three years ago in spring 2004. Now, in early spring 2007, I'm confident that Luna will show the first signs of this year's growth within weeks, as she has done each year previously. Seven years ago, Dr. Steve Sillett, the Redwood Canopy Biologist at Humboldt State University, predicted that Luna would die back from the top down and that within 2-5 years, she'd look more and more like a snag. Well, sometimes the experts don't have all the answers. Yes, Luna does have some dead branches at the very top, but this is quite normal; ancient Redwoods lose branches every year. Overall, she looks as healthy as she did prior to the attack. So seven years later, I'm confident that at my next visit in May or June I'll see plenty of new growth replacing the dieback.
If the Maxxam Corporation continues having PALCO log its forests at the current rate, then the protected area around Luna (about 3 acres total) will stand out like a green island more and more each year. But even with this accelerated rate of logging, even PALCO has not forgotten the importance of protecting Luna (and the Luna Agreement). In fact, in 2005, a Timber Harvest Plan (THP) was filed for a parcel of land that borders the Luna Property. When Sanctuary Forest monitors and foresters first learned of this THP, a meeting was called with PALCO foresters to discuss and determine which trees would be cut nearest to Luna. We argued that Luna's "Ecological Protection Zone" should be expanded beyond its 200 foot radius. The size of the circle was chosen so that if and when Luna falls, she will fall entirely inside the protected area. But the grove of Douglas Fir and Redwoods immediately upslope from the Luna Property serves as a windbreak, protecting Luna from fierce storms blowing in from the Pacific. If those trees were logged, we claimed, it would irreparably damage her Ecological Protection Zone. PALCO foresters agreed and moved their THP boundary farther from Luna, almost doubling the size of the protected zone. While they were not legally bound to do this, they understood, as we at Sanctuary Forest already understood, that moving the THP boundary farther from Luna makes good sense. It makes good sense as a way to protect Luna, and for PALCO especially, it makes good sense as a means to maintain a cooperative working relationship between our organizations.
It is this type of cooperative effort that makes Sanctuary Forest a unique type of environmental organization. It's what made it possible for loggers, environmentalists, and government representatives to come together so quickly after the chain saw attack to fight to save Luna.
As caretakers of Luna, PALCO realizes that Sanctuary Forest is the only way for others to learn about Luna, and we can't talk about Luna without talking about our relationship with PALCO. So PALCO continues to cooperate with our efforts to monitor Luna and the Luna Property.
Since that THP near Luna in 2005, most monitoring visits have been uneventful. We are able to inspect Luna's health as well as the condition of the steel hardware without leaving the ground. However, since the cables are attached to Luna over 100 feet up, each year our inspection includes climbing into Luna's canopy to take a closer look at the cables and bolts. A special thank you goes out to expert climbers Paul Donohue and Teresa Wood for their tireless efforts. Paul and Teresa return every year (regardless of what part of the world their work takes them) to inspect the parts of Luna that we can't see from the ground. Thank you Teresa and Paul!
Today my official report will note only that there are no changes since the last visit. But local politics and the economy change along with the seasons, so I (and the Sanctuary Forest monitors) will continue watching Luna and reporting on her status.
You can help, too! All of us who monitor Luna do so as volunteers, but our tools and supplies and reports cost money. Please help make our work possible by earmarking your donations to Sanctuary Forest for "Luna Monitoring Costs".
Long ago, a lapel button was pinned on Luna that said "Your Silence Does Not Protect You". Through your emails, your phone calls, and your donations, we can ensure that Luna's voice never falls silent.
For the trees,
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