September 6, 2008

Court Rules Trees Go for Sports Center

A California court ruling cleared the way for cutting down a grove of mature oak trees beside a university football stadium in Berkeley.

Crews began clearing the way for a new sports training center Friday after a state appeals court turned down neighborhood opponents and tree-sitters who had fought the project for nearly two years, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Saturday.

University officials said it was time for the longest-running tree sitting protest in the nation to end. The four remaining tree-sitters must come down within 72 hours, university officials said.

"The time has come for these people to come down and put an end to this dangerous and illegal occupation of university property," said University of California Vice Chancellor Nathan Brostrom.

Opponents were reportedly seeking to have their case taken up by the California Supreme Court. But public support appeared to be waning, the Chronicle said.

"It's surreal to see the grove finally be cut down after so much energy and effort and spirit was put into protecting it," said Daria Garina, a UC Berkeley junior and supporter of the tree-sitters. "It's tragic and awful."