USFS' tree-sitter watch costs taxpayers $1,000 a day


Mar 11, 2001
Reaction score
Forest Service tallies cost of tree protest

By BUDDY SMITH, Ravalli Republic Staff Reporter

The Bitterroot National Forest said as of Wednesday that keeping a 24-hour watch at a treetop standoff now in its second week had cost $9,000, or roughly $1,000 a day.

One Wild Rockies Earth First! protester was arrested this week after leaving the tree he occupied near Darby since July 7, six days after authorities removed food, water and other supplies after the activists refused to leave. A second tree sitter remains aloft and has shown no signs of quitting her logging protest.

Forest Service law enforcement officers and Ravalli County Sheriff's reserve deputies have remained at the site 24 hours a day to arrest the protesters when they come down.

In a Wednesday press release, the Bitterroot National Forest said it has gotten questions about taxpayer costs and, according to Dale Brandeberry, supervisory law enforcement officer for the Bitterroot Forest, cost of the 24-hour surveillance for staffing and equipment is roughly $1,000 per day.

The numbers are based on overtime costs for staffing Forest Service law officers and regular salaries for sheriff's reserve officers plus cost of equipment, including on-site lights and generators, said spokeswoman Ellen Davis. She said the forest issued the figures after fielding several phone calls.

"One of the questions we're being asked is why is this taking so long, why are we expending these costs for these guys to sit in the trees?" she said. "Our point of view is safety is our biggest issue ... and we evaluate each situation, and in this particular situation we believe it's best to just wait and let them come down."

"We believe the best way to deal with this situation is to be on site when they come down," said deputy forest supervisor Spike Thompson. He said safety of law enforcement officers, loggers and protesters is a priority, "as well as enforcing the law and arresting the violators."

In the press release, Thompson also said Earth First! refused his offer to allow them to protest in the parking lot of the Forest Service's Hamilton headquarters.

Over the phone Thursday, Troy Lee of Wild Rockies Earth First! responded to the Forest Service's cost estimates this way:

"Taxpayer money is also being utilized to facilitate this sale with very, very little public input on it," he said. "So I think if this is what it takes for us to generate public awareness, first and foremost we think it's a worthwhile endeavor."

The activists occupied the trees to block the use of the site as a helicopter landing pad and to protest logging of timber burned in the 2000 wildfires. Forest officials say the tree sit violates several ordinances, including a 14-day camping limit at one site.


Well-known member
Mar 15, 2001
Reaction score
Log the damn tree that there in, that or :shoot-down: what a waste of money if no body paid attention to these idiots they would just go away.
Top Bottom