The Butte Bugle, 9/6/97 - Arborists, Government on Collision Course Butte, Montana - With the recent tree-related deaths of Michael Kennedy and Rep. Sonny Bono, anti-government activists have taken up a new strategy: planting trees. This has led to a strange alliance between Patriot militias and the radical environmentalist group, EarthFirst.

A spokesman for the Arborist Insurgent Militia of Montana, who goes by the nom-de-guerre of Lee Harvey Appleseed, at a news conference today said "These politicians have gotten so dumb that ordinary trees can take 'em out! We call upon all Patriots to plant as many trees as possible. Do it for America!" AIMM claims to have "over 14 members" and a heavily fortified greenhouse "compound" with at least 30 trees known to be inside.

EarthFirst staged a small demonstration outside the Butte courthouse, with 3 members clad in plaid flannel shirts chanting "Live Free, Plant A Tree". One, who asked not to be named, said that the group had already started "plant and run" tree plantings on ski slopes and golf courses, using burr oak, black walnut, and Sitka spruce seedlings.

In Washington, liberal Democrat and fierce tree-control advocate Rep. Charles Schumer said "Trees are a danger to all Americans, especially the children. I am introducing legislation today that will ban all trees, and severely restrict access to shrubs over 3 feet high.

We need a tree-free America, where everyone can ski safely without dangerous obstacles. I want to cut down all the trees, for the children!"

Rep Sonny Bono began his career as a pop singer before turning to politics. Michael Kennedy was campaign manager for his uncle Sen. Edward Kennedy's last election. No charges have been made in relation to either death, although FBI Director Louis Freeh said "We haven't ruled out the possibility of homicide. A tree can be considered a stationary blunt instrument. We have forensic forestry specialists testing the DNA of the trees involved in these incidents, to see if there is any possible relationship or link between them."

Vice President Al Gore was reportedly troubled by the recent activities regarding trees. Because he is known as a "tree-hugger", Gore's aides said he is planning on distancing himself from the pro-tree advocates, and will ask Former EPA director William Ruckelshaus to assist the Clinton Administration in developing a new tree policy. Ruckelshaus is the CEO of Browning Ferris Industries, the nation's second-largest waste management company, and is the former CEO of Weyerhauser, a major pulp and paper company which has been criticized by pro-tree environment activists in the past.

AIMM's Appleseed said that his organization is planning a large recruiting drive for Arbor Day, including a parade in Butte. Tree-control advocates are planning a counterdemonstration. Butte police chief Tex Pumpaloaf said he is planning on having the Montana State Police on hand to help keep the groups apart. "We will do everything necessary to maintain a peaceful and orderly Arbor Day in Butte" said Chief Pumpaloaf.