Interview With a Tree-Sitter, Protesting Scripps Biotech Center
Rachel Kijewski has spent the last four days camped out 30 feet above ground, in the branches of a cluster of pine trees off I-95 in Palm Beach Gardens.
She and other members of the environmental group Everglades Earth First are protesting a plan to build a Scripps Research Institute biotech center, offices, and houses on 680 acres of vacant land. The group says it wants to preserve one of the last large tracts of forest in the area, and protect threatened species such as wild pine, royal fern, and ground lichens.
The Palm Beach Gardens City Commission approved the Scripps plan last spring, but Kijewski,25, and other activists are willing to go to great lengths to stop the bulldozers. They derailed a similar Scripps proposal in western Palm Beach County five years ago, and Scripps eventually opened a center in Jupiter instead. The Gardens project would be the second phase of the center’s development.
Kijewski and fellow protester Russel McSpadden have been camped out in the trees since Monday. The Juice asked Kijewksi how she’s faring.
Have you slept? Eaten?
Sleeping, eating, pooping — you name it, we’re doing it in the trees. We have hammocks for sleeping, we have a good food supply [fruits, dried goods, canned goods]. We have sort of a tree-sitters port-a-potty in regards to the important daily needs.
Have you gotten any positive response from cars or people passing by?
A good amount of honks, even at night.
Why did you volunteer for this?
I’m absolutely in love with slash pines and this particular type of forest.I enjoy climbing trees. This is one of the most direct ways I can put my skills to use.
How long will you be up there?
Not sure exactly. I’d like to stay up here until we get this forest actually saved. That’s my goal, but we’ll see what happens.
Everglades Earth First! activists Russ McSpadden and Rachel Kijewski took the issue of endangered species protection to new heights today! They are suspended 30 feet up in the air to protest the plans for development of the “FAU/Scripps Bio-tech City” on the Briger Forest Tract- the last living forest in Palm Beach County.
Law Enforcement with the Florida Department of Transportation and City of Palm Beach Gardens have promised to arrest the tree-sitters if they do not leave the sit. Both Russ and Rachel are holding tight!
A joint statement from the tree-sitters states, “As FAU graduates and Palm Beach County residents we are dismayed at the lack of protection for the Endangered Species on the FAU/Scripps development site. The Scripps “bio-tech city” plan promotes sprawl and will destroy endangered species located on the Briger Forest Tract. We have tried legal means to protect the site, but the developers and politicians have ignored our concerns. If the state and county refuse to protect endangered species then we must take action to preserve the remaining natural beauty of Florida.”
In conjunction with the tree sit, forty protesters converged at the existing FAU/Scripps Florida where Jupiter and FAU campus police briefly detained at least one person.
This will just be the first direct action of many to preserve the Briger Forest and the endangered species that depend on it. Everglades Earth First! activists plan to maintain a presence on the site to ensure no endangered species habitat is destroyed, and no animals are abused in the proposed vivisection labs.
Hoo-ray for Russ and Rachel! Stay tuned for more updates!
DONATE – to help us support the tree-sitters with future bail and legal costs! Donations can be made via Paypal to “email@example.com”
HELP THE TREE-SIT – We will have an on-going vigil to ensure the safety of these brave activists. We can be reached by email or calling 561-249-2071
FOR MORE INFO on Scripps and the Briger Tract Forest check out Palm Beach Environmental Coalition
FLORIDA FOREST TO BE DESTROYED FOR BIO-TECH CITY
February 14, 2011: Two FAU Alumni go to great heights to defend Endangered Species in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida suspend themselves 30 feet from the ground in the pine trees of the Briger Tract Forest in protest of the FAU/Scripps Bio-tech City plan.
Tree-sitters display banner reading “Defend These Forests”, visible to all Northbound I-95 traffic.
- Tree-sitters on Briger Tract site (561) 324-1033
- Ana Rodriguez, on site at FAU Campus Protest: (561) 374-3268
- Maya, on site at FAU Campus Protest: (413) 695-2249
Two “Tree-sitters” on the Briger Tract Forest in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida suspend 30 feet in the air holding a banner reading to all of northbound traffic on Florida Interstate I-95 to highlight their concerns regarding the FAU Scripps Bio-technology.
Law Enforcement with the Florida Department of Transportation and City of Palm Beach Gardens arrived at approximately 9 am to the site located on the northbound side of I-95 just south of the Donald Ross exit.
FDOT and PBG Gardens police have told the FAU Alumni “tree-sitters” to leave the site or risk imminent arrest. The two FAU Alumni remain suspended 30 foot high from pine trees, holding a banner that reads “Defend These Forests”.
The tree-sitters sited on-going concerns about the proposed development which their group, Everglades Earth First, has been voicing at City and County public meetings over the past year.
One tree-sitter commented “As an FAU Graduate and Palm Beach County resident I am dismayed at the lack of protection for the Endangered Species on the FAU Scripps development site. The Scripps “bio-tech city” plan promotes sprawl and will destroy endangered species located on the Briger Tract Forest. We have tried legal means to protect the site, but the developers and politicians have ignored our concerns. If the state and county refuse to protect endangered species then we must take action to preserve the remaining natural beauty of Florida.”
Further comment from the tree-sitters is available through the media contact. The tree-sitters and their banner are visible from Northbound I-95, at the Donald Ross exit adjacent to proposed “biotech city” of the Scripps Research Institute.
In conjunction with the tree-sit, forty protesters are currently converged at the existing FAU/Scripps Florida building located at 120 Scripps Way on the FAU Honors Campus. City of Jupiter police and FAU campus police are on site at the protest and have briefly detained at least one person.
“The Scripps Bio-tech City development violates the Palm Beach Gardens Comprehensive Plan. said Ana Rodriguez on-site at the FAU/Scripps protest. The government’s approval of Scripps’ Bio-tech city demonstrates that they are unwilling to protect critical habitat for Endangered Species. We are concerned about the environmental impacts of the development and the hazards of bio-technology. With bio-technology comes genetic engineering, infectious diseases and animal testing in our backyard.”
Bio-technology has been a controversial science receiving critique from farmers, the scientific community and residents globally.
The group says that the action marks the beginning of a collaborative campaign to stop the clearing of the Briger Forest, on the ground and in the treetops. Earth First! activists plan to maintain a presence on the site to ensure no endangered species habitat is destroyed, and no animals are abused in the proposed vivisection labs.
Casting Call for Innovative Variety Show in Downtown Lake Worth!!!
Casting Call for Innovative Variety Show in
Downtown Lake Worth!!!
We are looking for entertainers and artists of all genres to help create this project but to also showcase their talent. If you are interested please contact me and we can arrange a time for you to perform, or if you have any questions about the project please don’t hesitate to ask.
If you are interested Please contact 561-503-5743
129 Federal Highway
Lake Worth, FL 33460