Cross-posted from the Palm Beach Post
By Cynthia Roldan
Protesters with Everglades Earth First camp in trees off I-95 just south of Donald Ross Road Monday morning. Photo: Lannis Waters/Palm Beach Post
PALM BEACH GARDENS — Two people decided to express their love to Interstate 95 drivers today by climbing up a tree and hanging a banner.
But the love they’re professing on Valentine’s Day was not for each other, it was for trees.
Rachel Kijewski, 25, and Russ McSpadden, 32, spread a banner that reads in big letters: “Defend this Forest.” Below that reads: “Evergladesearthfirst.org.”
As members of the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition, they say they want to express their frustration with the city of Palm Beach Gardens for its intent of developing the land.
“This is the last forest of this size in Palm Beach County,” McSpadden said. “We wanted to make it very clear that this place is here and it’s under threat.”
McSpadden explained that he’s been trying to prevent the land from being developed for quite some time. He said he’s attended city meetings and has contacted representatives from the Scripps Florida Research Institute, which intends is to place a biotech laboratory on the land, according to McSpadden.
“We felt that people in Palm Beach Gardens and South Florida should know,” McSpadden said.
Representatives from Scripps Florida were not immediately available for comment.
McSpadden and Kijewski say the have enough supplies to last them at least a week. They even have a hammock to sleep in.
As for why the chose to begin their protest on Valentine’s Day, Kijewski and McSpadden said that this an idea to spend time together, since they aren’t dating. Instead they say they chose today because they “love trees.”
“We absolutely love this forest,” Kijewski said. “We would love to preserve this small piece of track.”
Though Palm Beach Gardens Police were on scene earlier, they have since left the tree-loving pair to their adventure.
Police on the scene refused to comment on the couple tree-sitting stunt.