Julia Hill is an environmental activist who lived on top of a Giant Sequoia for 738 days, from the 10th December 1997 to the 18th December 1999. Her battle was conducted against the “Pacific Lumber Co.”, company which wanted to deforest and razed a consistent part of the forest of the American “Big Tree”.

Before the attempt, Julia was a typical American girl from the 90’s with a family in constant motion, without a stable home for more than 2 years. In 97’s Julia joined the members of the environmental activists in Humboldt County, where there was a protest ongoing about the knocking down of Giant Sequoias.

Above: picture shared via Wikipedia – licence Creative Commons

The Giant Sequoias grow only in a limited area of the Sierra Nevada, in California, on just 14,000 hectares of land

The organisers of the protest were looking for someone who would remain on the trees for a week. Julia was the only person who offered herself as a volunteer, but she didn’t spend just a week: she carried on all the way to 2 years.

Above: picture shared via Wikipedia – licence Creative Commons

Beforethe protest, Miss Hill had not take part in any other environmental movement. On the 10th December 1997, she climbed up the sequoia as a civil disobedience act, reaching the peak 55 m up (180 ft). The tree was renamed “Luna” and became Julia’s house until the 18th December 1999.

The battle of Julia was supported by some environmental groups and people who had the cause of protecting ancient trees at heart. Miss Hill said:

“An hour and a half after reaching the base of the tree, we got the last of the provisions up. By then it was midnight. Finally, I was able to put on the harness and ascend Luna. It seemed an exhausting eternity before I reached the top. When I finally got there, I untangled myself from the harness and looked around for a place to collapse”.

During those 738 days that followed, Julia Hill lived on a platform of 1.8 x 1.8 m (6 x 6 ft). The adversities that she had to endure were devastating: from rain to freezing winds, the summer heat ans the constant present of insects. Beyond the power of Nature, Julia was pestered by helicopters of the business and she held on for 10 days of siege of the security guards of the business, interested in the deforestation.

Julia became the news correspondent for the cable tv show “in-tree” where she would encourage the pacific resistance against the knocking down of the centuries old trees. In order to communicate she would use a phone, recharging through solar battery and through which she managed to become guest of many radio shows.

By the end of 1999, the environmental activists and the Pacific Lumber Co. found an agreement: Luna and the surrounding area would have been spared. The organisation “Earth First!” had furthermore collected an important sum, 50,000 dollars, which had been paid as an exchange for the missing knocking down of the trees to the Pacific Lumber Co. The sum was donated to charity to the Humboldt State University, as a contribution to the research of the sustainable forest resources.

Julia’s battle had been won

Miss Hill got off the tree, starting once again her life on the ground. One year after her coming back down, in the tree a big “wound” was noticed, 32 cm deep cut all around the perimeter (13 inches) and 5.8 m wide on the base (19 ft). The greatness of the cut were covering almost half the whole trunk of the tree. The wound was treated with natural remedies and then it was stabilised with some steel cables. Luna was saved for a second time, this time by a vandalistic act.

In 2000, Julia published a book titled “The Legacy of Luna”, still available on Amazon. Written as a diary, the book talks about the 2 years passed on the ancient Giant Sequoia.

Above: Julia Hill in a pic from 2006: picture shared via Wikipedia – licence CC BY-SA 2.0

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Matteo Rubboli

I am a publisher specialised in the digital distribution of culture and founder of the portal Vanilla Magazine. I don't wear a tie or branded clothes, I keep my hair short so I don't have to comb it. That's not my fault but just the way I've been drawn as...

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