Police officers used rubber bullets and a cherry-picker to remove protesters from tall pine trees in northern California on Tuesday.


Dozens California Highway Patrol officers clad in visored helmets and armed with batons removed the activists from their protest spot near Highway 101. The protesters, part of a group calling itself Save Our Little Lake Valley, have sought to block construction of a four-lane highway bypass around the small city of Willits in Mendocino County for nearly two months.

“I do know that CHP needed to use some less lethal means because I am aware that one of them resisted the extraction. But I don't know the details of what was used,” Caltrans spokesman Phil Frisbie told the Press Democrat.

The activists were given multiple warnings before being removed from the trees and arrested for trespassing, according to the CHP.

The bypass will harm the local environment and economy, according to the protesters. The six-mile-long raised highway will go over wetlands and forests in Little Lake Valley.

"That bypass is going to plow through our entire valley, all the way down into the wetlands," one of the tree sitters, Amanda "Warbler" Senseman, told KQED in February. "It's also probably just the most destructive option there is."

But Caltrans has insisted it examined more than 30 potential routes and picked the least environmentally damaging option. The state agency has also said the bypass will reduce air pollution and improve fisheries.

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