Suits surrounding tree protest dismissed

John Quigley, an environmental activist who lived in a 400-year-old oak tree for 72 days last winter as part of a protest, won’t have to worry about being convicted of trespassing any time soon. A civil trespassing claim against Quigley, along with several other suits, were dropped Dec.4.

The claim was originally filed by developer John Laing, who owns the tree and had planned to cut it down to widen a road for a new subdivision. Quigley was ordered down from the tree in January after a judge said the developer had the right to remove it.

To appease protesters, the developer agreed to move the tree to a preserve a few hundred yards away from its current location. The move, however, is expected to cost over $1 million.

Members of the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and Development, which recruited Quigley to protest in the tree, fear moving the tree may kill it. The organization was also dismissed Friday from a lawsuit brought by Laing Homes accusing SCOPE of trespassing and libel.

Laing Homes was recently dismissed in the environmental group’s breach-of-contract suit. The organization claimed the developer violated a 1999 agreement to save the tree.

The oak tree is yet to be moved because the developer has had to wait until its roots are dormant during winter months, and the road-widening project is at a standstill. When the tree is moved, it will take approximately three months to complete.