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Last tree-sitters climb down from campus redwood

The four remaining protesters living in a redwood at UC Berkeley climbed down from their perch Tuesday, ending a 21-month occupation of a campus grove aimed at stopping construction of a new sports center.

The tree-sitters said they agreed to come down on the condition that the University of California create a land-use committee that will include input from students and residents into the school's future land decisions.

But a UC spokesman said no such deal was made and the university has no plans for the committee.

School officials prepared to forcibly remove the activists by building scaffolding around the tree. The protesters slowly climbed down the tree and onto scaffolding amid cheers from supporters soon after the agreement was reached.

They were arrested immediately by police and face charges including tresspassing and violating a court order, authorities said. Five other demonstrators on the ground also were arrested and face charges including resisting police officers.

Opponents of the construction claim it violates environmental and earthquake safety regulations.

Protesters cycled in and out of the trees during the early months but were later forced into a single redwood as campus officials stepped up their eviction efforts.

After many legal battles, the school got court clearance last week to begin building. By Tuesday morning, arborists had cut down 40 of the 42 trees marked for removal. The final two that remained included the occupied redwood and another redwood officials plan to transplant.

The campus has promised to plant three new trees for every one cut.

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