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Activists sentenced for actions aimed at saving Arcadia trees

Tree-sitters plead no contest and are ordered to perform community service eight months after trying to block the felling of century-old oaks and sycamores in the foothills above Arcadia.

August 12, 2011|By Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times
  • John Quigley took this photo of himself on Jan. 12 as he sat in an oak tree in Arcadia. He will perform community service for his role in attempting to stop the felling of a grove of trees.
John Quigley took this photo of himself on Jan. 12 as he sat in an oak tree in…

Two tree-sitters pleaded no contest on Thursday to a misdemeanor trespassing charge in connection with an attempt to save a grove of century-old oaks and sycamores in the foothills above Arcadia that became a local cause celebre.

The settlements ended an eight-month legal battle that began when a group of tree-sitters, known as the Arcadia 4, occupied several trees in an effort to block Los Angeles County Department of Public Works crews from cutting down an 11-acre grove to create a dumping site for mud scooped out of Santa Anita reservoir.

John Quigley, a veteran of such protests, and Travis Jochimsen were sentenced on Thursday in Alhambra Municipal Court to 20 days of community service with a nonprofit organization of their choice. In an earlier appearance, Andrea Bowers and Julia Posin pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor trespassing charge and were sentenced to 10 days of community service.

Quigley, 50, said his actions on Jan. 12 "were out of necessity to defend the public good and our natural heritage," and that the removal of what he called the "Arcadia woodlands" was "a crime against nature and the people of Southern California."

"I'm proud of us," added Posin, 23.

Quigley's attorney, Colleen Flynn, said the pleas will be dismissed after one year. "It's quite a victory in light of the fact that the Los Angeles County district attorney's office originally wanted jail time and over $20,000 in fines and restitution," Flynn said.

Prosecutors dropped more serious misdemeanor charges of failure to disperse and obstructing, delaying or resisting a police officer, Flynn said.

After the department razed the trees, residents from adjacent neighborhoods organized a community-based organization called the Urbanwild Network, which is dedicated to seeking alternatives to the destruction of woodlands across Los Angeles County.

A week ago, Public Works crews hauled 3,000 cubic yards of sediment out of the reservoir, which was last dredged in 1993. The 83-year-old facility is a critical component of the county's aging flood-control system and is used to recharge aquifers that the cities of Sierra Madre and Arcadia rely on for drinking water.

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