Legacy of Luna: The Story of a Tree, a Woman and the Struggle to Save the Redwoods

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9780062516589: Legacy of Luna: The Story of a Tree, a Woman and the Struggle to Save the Redwoods

On December 18, 1999, Julia Butterfly Hill's feet touched the ground for the first time in over two years, as she descended from "Luna," a thousandyear-old redwood in Humboldt County, California.

Hill had climbed 180 feet up into the tree high on a mountain on December 10, 1997, for what she thought would be a two- to three-week-long "tree-sit." The action was intended to stop Pacific Lumber, a division of the Maxxam Corporation, from the environmentally destructive process of clear-cutting the ancient redwood and the trees around it. The area immediately next to Luna had already been stripped and, because, as many believed, nothing was left to hold the soil to the mountain, a huge part of the hill had slid into the town of Stafford, wiping out many homes.

Over the course of what turned into an historic civil action, Hill endured El Nino storms, helicopter harassment, a ten-day siege by company security guards, and the tremendous sorrow brought about by an old-growth forest's destruction. This story--written while she lived on a tiny platform eighteen stories off the ground--is one that only she can tell.

Twenty-five-year-old Julia Butterfly Hill never planned to become what some have called her--the Rosa Parks of the environmental movement. Shenever expected to be honored as one of Good Housekeeping's "Most Admired Women of 1998" and George magazine's "20 Most Interesting Women in Politics," to be featured in People magazine's "25 Most Intriguing People of the Year" issue, or to receive hundreds of letters weekly from young people around the world. Indeed, when she first climbed into Luna, she had no way of knowing the harrowing weather conditions and the attacks on her and her cause. She had no idea of the loneliness she would face or that her feet wouldn't touch ground for more than two years. She couldn't predict the pain of being an eyewitness to the attempted destruction of one of the last ancient redwood forests in the world, nor could she anticipate the immeasurable strength she would gain or the life lessons she would learn from Luna. Although her brave vigil and indomitable spirit have made her a heroine in the eyes of many, Julia's story is a simple, heartening tale of love, conviction, and the profound courage she has summoned to fight for our earth's legacy.

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Review:

A young woman named Julia Butterfly Hill climbed a 200-foot redwood in December 1997. She didn't come down for 738 days. The tree, dubbed Luna, grows in the coastal hills of Northern California, on land owned by the Maxxam Corporation. In 1985 Maxxam acquired the previous landlord, Pacific Lumber, then proceeded to "liquidate its assets" to pay off the debt--in other words, clear-cut the old-growth redwood forest. Environmentalists charged the company with harvesting timber at a nonsustainable level. Earth First! in particular devised tree sit-ins to protest the logging. When Hill arrived on the scene after traveling cross-country on a whim, loggers were preparing to clear-cut the hillside where Luna had been growing for 1,000 years. The Legacy of Luna, part diary, part treatise, and part New Age spiritual journey, is the story of Julia Butterfly Hill's two-year arboreal odyssey.

The daughter of an itinerant preacher, Hill writes of her chance meeting with California logging protesters, the blur of events leading to her ascent of the redwood, and the daily privations of living in the tallest treehouse on earth. She weathers everything from El Niño rainstorms to shock-jock media storms. More frightening are her interactions with the loggers below, who escalate the game of chicken by cutting dangerously close to Luna (eventually succeeding at killing another activist with such tactics). "'You'd better get ready for a bad hair day!'" one logger shouts up, grimly anticipating the illegal helicopter hazing she would soon get. Celebrity environmentalists like Joan Baez and Woody Harrelson stop by, too. The notoriety has, on balance, been good to Hill and her cause. George magazine named her one of the "Ten Most Fascinating People in Politics," Good Housekeeping readers nominated her one of the "Most Admired Women" in 1998, and she was featured in People's "Most Intriguing People of the Year" issue. As a result, more Americans know about controversial forestry practices; it remains to be seen, however, whether public outrage is enough to save California's unprotected and ever-shrinking groves of redwoods. While an agreement allowed Hill to descend from her aerie and Luna to escape the saw, most of the surrounding old-growth forest in the region has been felled or will fall shortly. Still, Hill is optimistic: "Luna is only one tree. We will save her, but we will lose others. The more we stand up and demand change, though, the more things will improve." --Langdon Cook

From the Publisher:

It is critical to point out that Legacy of Luna is printed on paper made from 30% post-consumer recycled fibers and 70% Forestry Stewardship Council-certified paper using soy based ink. There is no more responsible paper available. It's quite insane to suggest that Julia would devote her life to saving trees only to have them sacrificed for her book. Instead, this book is a model of the sustainability available to all of us. Furthermore, it is instructive to know that she is not receiving penny from the profits of this book -- they are all going to the Circle of Life Foundation whose work is to promote sustainabiliy, restoration and preservation of life.

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