Naked protesters try to save threatened trees

Berkeley, California - Scores of protesters shed their clothes and hugged trees in a bid to save a grove of oak trees slated to be chopped down to make way for new buildings on the University of California, Berkeley campus.

On Saturday, 78 bare-bottomed activists - some first-time nudists, others lifelong exhibitionists - joined a half-dozen protesters who have been living in the trees since December.

University administrators want to cut down more than 30 oaks near Memorial Stadium to make way for a $125-million sports training facility.

After activist groups sued to halt the project, a judge issued a preliminary injunction on January 29 that prevents the university from breaking ground or removing any trees. A trial is expected later this year.

"This is an activity I am proud to support," said Debbie Moore, co-founder of a local nude theatre troupe called X-plicit Players. "Besides, I never turn down a chance to take off my clothes."

San Francisco Bay area photographer Jack Gescheidt staged the event as part of an ongoing series called "The Tree Spirit Project".

"Humans are drawn to trees. They are important to us in ways that can be difficult to describe in words," said Gescheidt, who has also photographed nude roller skaters in San Francisco. "They don't need to destroy this grove." - Sapa-AP

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