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Who is Julia “Butterfly” Hill?

After suffering from a car accident at the age of 22, Julia Butterfly Hill went on a journey to find her true calling in life. And not long after, she encountered the beautiful redwood groves of Northern California, where she came face to face with Luna, a 200 feet tall tree that was more than 1,000 years old. 

Remembered as a dedicated environmental activist, Julia Butterfly Hill lived in a 1500-year-old, 200 feet tall tree named Luna from 1997 to 1999 to prevent the tree from being chopped down by the Pacific Lumber Company. 

The Calling of Julia Butterfly Hill

At the young age of 22, Julia “Butterfly” Hill’s life drastically changed after her involvement in a car accident, leaving her brain-damaged and crippled. While she struggled to recover and regain normal brain functioning, Hill sought to find her purpose in life. And although she emerged as a child of a preacher, surrounding her with organized religion and spirituality, she didn’t have a spiritual calling with the church, but in nature.

After Hill’s accident, she began to develop an interest in traveling. Hill arrived in Northern California with her friends and family from Missouri, and soon, they began hiking and running within the redwood-filled groves. Hill became immediately drawn to the Humboldt county’s redwood forests.

When I entered the majestic cathedral of the redwood forest for the first time, my spirit knew it had found what it was searching for. I dropped to my knees and began to cry because I was so overwhelmed by the wisdom, energy, and spirituality housed in this holiest of temples.

Julia “Butterfly” Hill

Nearly a year passed before Hill returned to the forest. And there, she found Luna, an ancient 200 feet tall redwood tree endangered from being taken for profit. Luna was one of the many redwoods within Humboldt county’s hillside that the Pacific Lumber Company wanted to cut down for monetary gain. Chopping down the redwoods would prove to be a hazardous risk for the locals as the trees protected people from landslides and other natural disasters that destroyed people’s homes. (Source: Santa Clara University

Hill and Luna’s Journey

Hill started tree-sitting for Luna on December 10, 1997; from there, she would stay at a tiny platform that hugged the tree. The hours of tree-sitting turned to days, and the days developed into weeks, and the weeks turned into months and years. Hill knew that her act of tree-sitting was much bigger than it seemed, and soon, many environmental organizations officially began supporting her, including Earth first.

Hill faced various challenges in her more than two years of tree-sitting. Powerful storms and terrifying weather conditions threatened Hill and Luna, including rain, snow, 40 mph winds, and an El Niño season. Hill remained resilient, with a camp stove and a sleeping bag as her only heat source.

In addition to that, the Pacific Lumber Company and law enforcement placed immense pressure on Hill to leave the tree. They used helicopter pressure, verbal threats, and they even went as far as freezing Hill’s one-week supply of food. Thankfully, Hill persevered with the aid of the organizations and individuals that further supported her.

On December 18, 1999, Hill emerged victorious in her fight as she received news that the Pacific Lumber Company decided to hinder its operations within a specific area around Luna. In addition to that, different environmental organizations and numerous individuals came together to raise nearly $50,000 to aid Humboldt State University in funding their sustainable forestry department. (Source: Santa Clara University)

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