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Who is Julia Butterfly Hill?

Julia Butterfly Hill is an environmental hero who famously lived atop an ancient redwood for 738 days to prevent its felling. Her courageous act of civil disobedience in the late '90s sparked global awareness about deforestation. Hill's story is a testament to the power of individual action in conservation. What could one person's dedication inspire you to change in your world?
Diana Bocco
Diana Bocco

Julia Butterfly Hill is a young activist best known for spending 738 days on top of a tree. Born on 18 February 1974 in Jonesboro, Arkansas, Julia Butterfly Hill was only 24 when she climbed a California Redwood tree and set up residence there. The tree, 1000 years old and 180 feet tall, was set to be cut down by the Pacific Lumber Company. Moved by the plight, volunteers from Earth First! and other organizations helped Julia build a small tarp-covered shelter on top of the tree, in which she would spend the next two years of her life.

The act of civil disobedience that started the legend was inspired by Headwaters Forest activists trying to stop the cut down of hundreds of trees in Humboldt County, California, one of the last remaining areas of wild redwood forest ecosystem in the US. Julia Butterfly Hill was not the first activist to climb the tree. Several people before her had spent hours or days on top of it, and when it was Julia's turn, her idea was simply to continue the fight. However, days turned into weeks, and on day 42, Julia Butterfly Hill broke the worldwide record for tree sitting. Her tree, nicknamed Luna because it was first climbed at night, with only the moon as a guiding light, became a symbol in the plight to protect redwood forests.

Julia Butterfly Hill protested attempts to cut down ancient redwoods.
Julia Butterfly Hill protested attempts to cut down ancient redwoods.

While up in Luna, Julia Butterfly Hill endured severe harassment from the logging company, which included horns, bright lights, and strong winds generated from a helicopter. She also survived one of the most severe winters in California history. Julia Butterfly Hill climbed down from Luna on 18 December 1999, after striking a deal with Pacific Lumber Company. According to the agreement, Luna plus a three-acre buffer zone around it, would be forever preserved.

Julia Butterfly Hill has been the subject of several documentaries, interviews, and books, including her own memoirs, "The Legacy of Luna." After climbing down from Luna, she went on a nationwide tour speaking against deforestation, and eventually founded Circle of Life Foundation, which offers tools for sustainable living, activism support, and educational programs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Julia Butterfly Hill and what is she known for?

Julia Butterfly Hill is an environmental activist renowned for her act of civil disobedience from December 10, 1997, to December 18, 1999, during which she lived in a 180-foot-tall, roughly 1,500-year-old California redwood tree to prevent it from being cut down. This tree was affectionately named "Luna," and Hill's protest against Pacific Lumber Company brought international attention to the plight of old-growth forests. Her efforts resulted in a deal that protected Luna and a surrounding buffer zone.

What motivated Julia Butterfly Hill to take such a drastic step in her environmental activism?

Julia Butterfly Hill was moved by the devastation of the redwoods and the impact of deforestation on the environment. After a nearly fatal car accident, she experienced a life-changing realization about the value of life and dedicated herself to environmental causes. Her decision to live in Luna was driven by the desire to make a bold statement against the unsustainable logging practices and to draw public attention to the importance of preserving ancient ecosystems.

How long did Julia Butterfly Hill live in the redwood tree, and what were the conditions like?

Julia Butterfly Hill lived in the redwood tree known as Luna for 738 days, enduring harsh conditions including extreme weather, isolation, and the constant threat of being forcibly removed. She lived on two small platforms, faced storms, and had to ration supplies carefully. Despite these challenges, her resolve did not waver, and her protest became a symbol of environmental activism and the power of peaceful resistance.

What impact did Julia Butterfly Hill's protest have on environmental policy or awareness?

Julia Butterfly Hill's protest significantly raised awareness about the preservation of old-growth forests and the broader environmental movement. Her action led to an agreement that protected Luna and a 200-foot buffer zone around it. Moreover, her story inspired others to take action and brought greater scrutiny to the practices of logging companies. While it didn't immediately change forest policies, it sparked conversations and contributed to the ongoing discourse on sustainable environmental practices.

What has Julia Butterfly Hill done since her protest in Luna?

Since her descent from Luna, Julia Butterfly Hill has continued her environmental advocacy through public speaking, writing, and community activism. She founded the Circle of Life Foundation to promote sustainability and respect for the Earth. Hill has also authored a book, "The Legacy of Luna," detailing her experience and has been involved in various environmental campaigns and initiatives to further the cause of conservation and responsible stewardship of natural resources.

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    • Julia Butterfly Hill protested attempts to cut down ancient redwoods.
      By: Jgz
      Julia Butterfly Hill protested attempts to cut down ancient redwoods.