Tree-sitters removed at Willits bypass

CHP officers Wednesday removed two people from trees in a Willits bypass construction zone, making way for workers to finish clearing the north end of the project.

The tree-sitters, Travis Jochimsen and a woman calling herself Blue Heron, were arrested, according to Redwood Nation Earth First.

Also arrested was Will Parish, who was documenting the incident and who previously was arrested for protesting the bypass, according to Earth First. He was arrested because he was in an unsafe construction area where he could have been injured, said Caltrans spokesman Phil Frisbie.

The CHP has arrested an estimated 30 people, some multiple times, since construction began early this year on the $210 million, 5.9-mile Highway 101 bypass skirting Willits. Opponents also have filed lawsuits aimed at halting construction. A ruling is expected by Thursday on the remaining outstanding case.

Opponents say the bypass is unnecessary, will destroy wetlands, harm fish and damage the rural nature of the Little Lake Valley.

Proponents of the project say the bypass will alleviate traffic jams through Willits, where Highway 101 is the main through street; reduce vehicle exhaust; and make the streets safer.

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