Luna - 17 Months Since Being Cut, and Still Doing Well

by Paul Donahue

Spring 2002

When Julia Butterfly Hill’s tree, Luna, was cut two- thirds of the way through by unknown angry loggers in late November 2000, the prospects for the tree’s survival did not look good. The severity of the chainsaw cut made Luna very susceptible to being toppled by the strong winter winds that can rake the ridge above Stafford, California where she stands, and also endangered the upward transport of essential moisture to the upper foliage during the dry summer months.
My wife, Teresa Wood, and I were part of the medical team that went to Luna’s rescue in the days following Thanksgiving 2000, and we were horrified by what we saw when we arrived at her base. Still, we all went ahead with the work, doing the best we could to insure that Luna would make it through the winter. There was nothing that could be done about the water transport problem, but at least we could try to stabilize the tree to help her deal with the winds to come. (That effort is described in “The Cabling of Luna” in the spring 2001 issue of The Maine Woods.)

Miraculously, Luna survived the winter winds, then she survived the dry summer months. Late this past November, one year to the day from the discovery of the cut, a group of us climbed back up the ridge to check on the tree. Teresa and I joined Julia, Claudia Thompson, one of Julia’s former ground support people, Stuart Moskowitz and Jimmy Freal of Sanctuary Forest, the land trust that holds the deed of covenant for the protected land around Luna, and Kristin Rothballer and Rea Inglesis, two friends and associates of Julia’s.

Stuart had been checking on Luna regularly over the year, so knew what to expect. However, Teresa and I had not been at the tree for a year, and Julia had not been there since February 2001. To our amazement, Luna looked GREAT! Except for a tiny bit of dieback on the tips of the upper branches, something Julia said happened during both dry seasons she was in the tree, her crown looked perfectly healthy.

 Luna has now survived a second winter and all is still going well.

 In Julia’s words as she sat at Luna’s base, “This tree continues to be a miracle....She’s been struck by lightening, she’s been burned out by a fire underneath, she’s unfortunately surrounded by clearcuts, everywhere, but this particular area and this particular tree seem to continue to be a never-ending story of the impossible becoming possible.