Driving up Highway 12 to enjoy the Wild and Scenic Lochsa River Corridor on this Easter Sunday my family was shocked and saddened to see an army of tree trimmers hacking away on the beautiful old trees that line the highway. Trees that stood long before the highway was built are now being altered in a most un-aesthetic way to make way for an Exxon Test Module (one that is too large for the corridor and doesn’t even have a permit to proceed beyond Lolo Hot Springs!)
Frank Church and Cecil Andrus along with the U.S. Congress protected the Lochsa River Corridor for future generations of Americans with the passage of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in 1968 and now ITD and USFS are working hand in hand with Exxon/Mobil to undo those protections.
Anyone taking a Sunday drive upriver today or traveling home from a family gathering met with 40+minute delays as they were held behind flaggers and led haphazardly by a pilot car through a maze of tree-trimmers trucks.
What kind of transportation department schedules major road alterations on Easter Sunday?
Why wasn’t there any kind of notification on ITD’s website to inform the traveling public of the delays being experienced on Highway 12?
What kind of Forest Service allows for a nationally mandated Wild and Scenic corridor to be radically changed in a way that puts the trees that line the highway at increased risk of disease and weakens them to the affects of wind and snow damage?
This inane attempt of making Highway 12 into an over-sized shipping route must come to a stop. The time is NOW before anything worse happens. Already many of the concerns brought up by locals have come true – delays well over 15 minutes, trees along the highway damaged, power outages, pullouts blocked off to the public, the shipments not being able to make the trip in the time presumed, altering of the wild and scenic corridor and a highway shutdown - and all that after only 2 megaloads have made the full trip from Lewiston to Lolo Pass! What more has to happen before ITD acknowledges the truth? These loads are too large for Highway 12 and they place an unnecessary risk on the local citizens and businesses who rely on Highway 12.
Let’s stop this NOW before something worse happens. If one of these loads went into the river the damage to the riverbed would be devastating. Exxon has proven that they have not planned well for this transportation project. There are other options to get this equipment to Alberta. We do not need to sacrifice Highway 12. I encourage you to pick up the phone on Monday morning and call as many of the people on the following list as you can to express your concern and dismay at the disregard with which our government agencies are treating the public. The short-sightedness of those individuals charged with protecting the resources of the public must be addressed.
USFS:Craig Trulock, Lochsa Ranger Station (208)926-4274
Rick Brazell, Clearwater Natn'l Forest Supervisor (208)476-4541
Leslie Weldon, Regional Forester (406) 329-3470
ITD Director Brian Ness (208) 334-8876
Public Involvement Adam Rush (208) 334-8119
IDAHO TRANSPORTATION BOARD MEMBERS
Darrell Manning – Chairman (208) 334-8808
Jim Coleman (208) 762-4704
Jan Vassar (208) 743-5093
Jerry Whitehead (208) 344-2539
Gary Blick – Vice Chairman (208) 537-6787
Neil Miller (208) 681-3172
Lee Gagner (208) 529-5600
If you’d like to call more people at ITD here is a link to the complete phone list: