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Authorities prepare to arrest tree-sitters in Willits bypass fight

  • Amanda Senseman is staging a tree sitting protest to the Highway 101 Willits bypass project. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

As rallies continued across Willits on Friday, Caltrans took first steps toward clearing the construction zone where three tree-sitters have taken up residence.

Amanda Senseman, 24, has been sitting in a pine tree protesting the controversial Willits Highway 101 bypass since Jan. 28. Caltrans warned her that she would be subject to arrest if she didn't come down, said Sara Grusky, one of the protesters who was arrested at the site Thursday.

Caltrans official Phil Frisbie confirmed Grusky's report, saying the step was taken over growing safety concerns. Frisbie said similar steps were taken at the other protest site.

Members of Operating Engineers Local No. 3 and Laborers Local No. 324 continued to meet in Willits on Friday afternoon to show support for the project, while a group of Senseman's supporters gathered on a nearby hill to support her.

Caltrans continued building a fence around the construction zone Friday, Frisbie said. CHP public information officer Steve Krul confirmed there were no new arrests Friday.

— Melody Karpinski

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