Except for a lone redwood holding four tree-sitters, UC Berkeley today finished cutting down the long-embattled Memorial Stadium trees that protesters had been fighting to preserve for 21 months. Arborists removed 42 oaks, redwoods, laurels, and other trees from the grove, leaving 28 around the perimeter. Several others, including a mature redwood, are slated to be transplanted to make way for a $124-million student athlete training center.
The university has no immediate plans to forcibly extricate the tree-sitters, but hopes they'll come down voluntarily now that the grove has been removed, said campus spokesman Dan Mogulof. The campus began cutting the trees Friday afternoon amid noisy outcries from tree supporters. The long-delayed clearance began after the state Court of Appeal declined to continue an injunction that had been in place against UC's plan pending the outcome of lawsuits against the sports center. Recent rulings by an Alameda County Superior Court judge gave UC the green light to proceed and provided that the injunction would be lifted.
If the tree-sitters remain in the redwood, the university will proceed with its preparation of the site to build the sports center, Mogulof said. Workers will spend the next few days clearing the fallen trees and removing stumps, he said. Independent archaeological crews will then examine the site for artifacts as required by state law. Construction bid packages will be sent out Monday, Mogulof said.