Protect sacred Abenaki land in process of VY cleanup

BRATTLEBORO — In the late 1990s in California, a group of environmental activists banded together to protect the ancient redwood forests from extensive clear-cut logging by the Pacific Lumber Co. The group became known as “tree sitters” because they built treehouses to live in - some of them 200 feet in the air.

The tree sitters endured high winds, freezing temperatures, threats from helicopters hovering very close by their treetop abodes, and harassment from the company's security forces.

Some of the activists referred to the clear-cut logging practices as a “war against the trees.” The most well-known of the tree sitters was Julia Butterfly Hill, who lived high atop a tree named Luna for more than two years.

Despite the efforts of the logging company and the remoteness of the location, the group attracted international attention. Finally, a settlement was reached with the Pacific Lumber Company to protect an area of the old-growth forest and to donate $50,000 to a California university's sustainable forestry department.

In her book, which documents her time there and the beliefs that motivated her to persevere, Hill cites her spiritual connection to the forest.

Throughout time, many cultures have shared this view of humanity's connection to and oneness with the natural world. The teachings of Chief Seattle reference the web of life - that we are all part of the web and that anything we do to the Earth that is harmful comes back to harm us.

There is a beautiful piece of land on the Connecticut River in Vernon that New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution is advocating to protect. The river there was used for commerce and for fishing by the Abenaki tribes. A large boulder on the riverbank guided navigators. The land was the place of sacred ritual and the Abenaki burial grounds.

Since Vermont Yankee started operations in 1972, the land has been used as a storage facility for tons of highly radioactive nuclear waste.The river has been used as a repository for the plant's heat and waste.

The stakes are high now for the amount of highly radioactive waste to be left on the site. NEC is advocating for the safest possible cleanup and restoration of the land.

Community involvement in the decommissioning process has been shown to strongly impact the outcome. If you have concerns, please email the Vermont Public Utilities Commission at [email protected].

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