A fourth tree-sitter joined the Willits bypass controversy Thursday, following an announcement earlier that day by tree-sitter Amanda Senseman that she was launching a hunger strike.

Senseman, 24, has been sitting in a tree protesting the bypass since Jan. 28.

Willits resident Mark Herbert ascended a tree across the highway from Senseman, an area where Caltrans will begin construction in the near future, said Phil Frisbie, a Mendocino County Caltrans official.

Prior to climbing the tree, Herbert had taken part in many of the protests occurring around the construction zone. Herbert says he's lived in the area for 14 years, and doesn't believe the bypass is necessary to fix the town's traffic problem.

Construction on the $210 million bypass began Feb. 25, but suffered delays because of the discovery of a bird's nest and interference from protesters. The CHP began blocking deliveries of food and water to the tree-sitters March 23.

— Melody Karpinski