Friday, September 13, 2013

A Win for Wild and Scenic Highway 12 in Court

Judge Winmill has granted the Nez Perce Tribe & Idaho Rivers United's requested preliminary injunction and ordered the Forest Service to issue a close of Highway 12 to Omega Morgan's megaloads until the corridor study and tribal consultation are complete.  Read the decision here.
Beautiful Lochsa Corridor
Photo by Roger Inghram

A message from Advocates for the West about the ruling:

Chief US District Judge Winmill rejected the Forest Service's claim that they had authority "to review but not enforce" scenic values protected in the Clearwater/Lochsa Wild and Scenic corridor. As we argued, the court agreed that the Forest Service's position was " erroneous reading of the Court's [February 2013] decision."

The decision goes on to say that by allowing an initial General Electric mega-load to pass through Hwy 12 on the week of August 5th, the Forest Service ignored its own rules on oversized loads within the Wild and Scenic River corridor and willingly chose to abdicate their statutory responsibilities.

And, in response to the Nez Perce Tribe's involvement in the case, Judge Winmill's decision states: "The Court also finds that they [Nez Perce Tribe] are likely to suffer irreparable harm if no injunction is issued. The plaintiffs are not seeking damages; they are seeking to preserve their Treaty rights along with cultural and intrinsic values that have no price tag."

The decision also addresses defendant Resources Conservation Company International's (RCCI) claim that their company stands to lose over $5 million if they are not allowed passage through Hwy 12. The Court places the blame of that loss squarely on the defendant, stating: "RCCI proceed before the Forest Service could complete its corridor study and consultation with the Tribe. In other words, RCCI knowingly put its loads into a position where the company would incur $5 million in losses if it must wait for the Forest Service review."

The court injunction will not affect normal traffic on Hwy 12 at all; it only closes the route to mega-loads. This is a truly incredible victory for all of us. The Court's decision sends a clear message that we will not be bullied by corporate Goliaths such as GE, Omega Morgan, and ExxonMobil.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Permission for Megaloads Ignored Nez Perce Treaty Rights

Read more here:
". . .This road along the Nez Perce trail is incomparable in its beauty, as well as its cultural value to the Nez Perce people. Its historical and cultural importance to the U.S. public is extraordinary. People who travel this route can feel its immense intrinsic value; the state of Idaho touts the unique nature and appeal of this corridor for tourism and recreation.
However, some Canadian and outside interests look at this route and see dollar signs in transport savings — for them. We are told of the wonderful opportunities of commerce this will bring.
The Nez Perce Tribe knows better. We have heard similar promises before. The travel of more than 1,000 of these megaloads, as is rumored, through one of the most pristine and spectacular areas in America is not genuine commerce. It is your Wall Street neighbor driving across your lawn, so that he can get to work five minutes faster and make a little more money — for him.*
The tribe has made its position on this issue known to the United States and the state of Idaho. The tribe has been ignored by the outside interests who will reap profits at the expense of the region’s resources. This exclusion led to frustration that spilled over into acts of civil disobedience so the tribal voice was heard. The tribe refuses to be excluded any longer. A hearing on the issue is scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday in U.S. District Court, Boise. ..."
Read the full article written by Silas C. Whitman, chairman of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee, in the Idaho Statesman.

If you'll be in Boise on Monday, September 9th please consider attending the Nez Perce Tribe Rally 
on the west steps of the State Capitol at 1pm 
as well as the megaload injunction hearing at 4:30 p.m.
at the Federal Courthouse, 550 W. Fort Street, Boise

*Emphasis on this statement added for the purpose of this blog and is not printed this way in the Idaho Statesman.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sign the Stop the Megaloads Petition

Stop the Megaloads Petition
Created by Ciarra Green.  

Here's what she has to say:  The megaloads are manufactured outside the US, are shipped to the Inland Northwest, and then transported via highways through Idaho and Montana to the Alberta Tar Sands. The Alberta Tar Sands have destroyed the resources of the First Nations people of Canada. We cannot support or allow this injustice to continue.
Our land in the US is worth protecting! Here are the top 20 reasons US Hwy 12 is worth protecting:

1. Runs through the Nez Perces' ancient homeland.
2.The Nez Perce National Historic Park is located here, including the headquarters and museum
3. Nationally designated the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway.
4. Nationally designated 1 of the nation's 27 All-American Roads.
5. Crosses and parallels for 80+ miles the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.
6. Crosses and parallels for 80+ miles the Nez Perce National Historic Trail.
7. Runs for 70+ miles beside 2 nationally designated Wild and Scenic Rivers, the Middle Fork of the Clearwater and the Lochsa, and provides access to a 3rd, the Selway River.
8. Travels beside and provides access to the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, one of the nation's most cherished wilderness areas.
9. National & International - renown of the Lochsa River for its world-class spring whitewater run.
10. Named by Motorcycle Magazine as the #1 recreational motorcycle route in the nation (many curves, much beauty).
11. Comprises a segment of the nationally recognized TransAmerica Bicycle Route.
12. Bisects the old growth Bernard Devoto Cedar Grove.
13. Crosses the Pacific Coast Disjunct Area, which includes rare plants for Idaho environs.
14. Lies within yards of USFS campgrounds, dispersed campsites, USFS and Nat'l Park Service interpretive sites, beaches and picnic sites.
15. Provides access to suspension bridges and dozens of trails used by hunters, fishers and wilderness trekkers and horseback riders, including access to the Idaho Bicentennial Trail and the Lochsa River Historical Trail.
16. Provides access to the Lochsa Historical Ranger Station, the McBeth House, historical churches, Big Eddy Marina at Dworshak Reservoir, and Spalding Park.
17. Runs alongside streams providing habitat of vital importance to salmon, steelhead, eel, bass and trout fisheries.
18. Runs through the wild habitats of a myriad of birds and other wildlife.
19. Runs for miles as a narrow, winding, shoulderless roadway within feet of rivers that provide domestic water supplies for 3 towns: Kamiah, Orofino and Lewiston.
20. Provides both an access route and a destination for travelers/tourists and recreationists who spend millions of dollars annually at over 150 small businesses, Lewiston to Lolo Pass, as part of the single growing industry of the corridor communities which comprise an economically depressed region of Idaho.

Please sign the petition to Rick Brazell, US Forest Service, Skip Brandt, Idaho County Commissioners Office, Doug Havens, Nez Perce County Commissioners Office, Greg Johnson, Lewis County Commissioners Office, Don Ebert, Clearwater County Commissioners Office, The Idaho State House, The Idaho State Senate, Governor Butch Otter, The United States House of Representatives, The United States Senate, and President Barack Obama, which says:

"I urge the US Forest Service to enforce its jurisdiction over megaload shipments across the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest. The scientific process should be adhered to before the authorization of transport is allowed; This would include a complete assessment of the possible impacts from megaload transportation through the pristine scenic corridor, including tribal lands, recreation areas, historical sites, and other indispensable lands. The environmental and public welfare injustices will have long lasting effects that cannot be repaired through financial settlements."

Will you sign the petition too? Click here to add your name:
Stop the Megaloads Petition

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Mega-Letters to the Editor

Balance Needed in Megaload Debate, by Syringa resident Owen Fiore

Idaho County Commissioner...Jim Chmelik claims not to understand the Nez Perce Tribe's opposition to the "Megaloads"... His emphasis on the alledged economic advantages of this "over-the-top" level of commerce fails to take into account our Idaho environment, applicable federal law and the clear opposition of many Idahoans to destruction of the Highway 12 Wild & Scenic corridor.

Mr. Chmelik should look to his duty to represent fairly all his constituents...rather than...capitulating to the unreasonable demands of commercial Big Oil interests and their transport companies.  In addition, Commissioner Chmelik claims that the State's road easement is absolute; but this is far from the truth.  The easement always has been, and remains, subject to Federal laws for protection of the environment, including the Wild & Scenic Corridor Act.  Therefore, Idaho Rivers United and the Nez Perce Tribe are seeking an injunction to force the U.S. Forest Service to fully exercise its already determined jurisdiction to review and to regulate commerce over Highway 12.

None of the opponents of the Megaloads threat to Highway 12 opposes the ordinary and reasonable highway commerce that travels this road every day without concern or opposition.  But...Highway 12 was never intended to be used for the "high, wide, heavy and intrusive" travel represented by the Megaloads... It would be helpful if our politicians would do more than merely support the Megaloads, especially since the economic benefits to Idaho County must be offset by consideration of the loss of tourism, damage to the environment we love and enjoy, and undue interference with the relative peace and quiet which brought us here.

Making closed-door deals, by Peck resident Win Green
All the buzz and controversy about megaloads has captured the attention of many...  Big business claims it will lose millions of dollars if it cannot use U.S.Highway 12.  Well,...when any private company makes business decisions that smack of closed-door agreements with state politicians, leaving most citizens out, they do so at their own peril. The citizens of north central Idaho owe absolutely nothing to these guys.  Under the ruse of creating jobs and economic growth, they pretend to be helping us.  It appears they have even hoodwinked many of our local politicians...  short-sighted people would destroy what many enjoy here.

Standing up to megaloads, by Kamiah resident Ken Jones

... I would like to praise the Nez Perce Tribal Council, the Friends of the Clearwater, and all tribal members who stood up to the megaloads.  Also those individuals that wrote letters opposing the megaloads...  When I read letters supporting the megaloads, it makes me sick...  Many of them only see money as the solution to everything, including destroying the beauty of scenic drives and the environmental sensitivity of the area....  I hope the Nez Perce Tribe will continue its efforts to stop the megaloads and prove we have say and rights on our reservation...  It's obvious the...Tribe has plenty of support.

Pity General Electric, by Orofino resident Jill Lynch

...poor, poor General Electric...  That megacoporation will lose a few million bucks if it can't push its megaloads through the U.S. Highway 12 corridor against the court ruling...  What a cruel, unfair and so unpredictable limit to face on the way to jamming its megapower up our noses or other unmentionable parts.  It should have planned another route until it knew the new rules...  threatening that our "lights will be turned off" sounds like a kid who isn't allowed to eat all the candy before dinner.  Meals, gasoline (mostly profit for oil companies) and temporary jobs for police won't make or break the local economy.  I've seen no local permanent jobs in the projections...  Commercial use does not mean commercial abuse...

We protest, by Moscow resident Sam Finch

Protesting the status quo is progress.  Anti-progress is letting foreighn state corporations, Gov...Otter and international oil interests violate federal law to use our country's wild and scenic rivers as a doormat... The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was designed to protect the shrinking number of free-flowing rivers in our country...  We do not protest megaloads because we want to close Highway 12 to every car and end commerce...  We protest to protect wild and scenic rivers for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations...  We protest our country's excessive use of fossil fuels...  We protest to uphold the Nez Perce Tribe's rights...

Megaloads: Force companies to be honest about their intentions, by Tucson, Arizona, resident Lori Scott
While visiting relatives in Missoula, I noticed that the megaload of a supposedly water purification unit was passing through. I decided to...take a photo...  When we tried to get closer to show the scale of the load next to a human being, a security person appeared, and shouted, “Don’t step off the pavement! That’s raw sewage there!“
As I looked around for signs of this...I could only conclude that raw sewage is also being trucked through Montana on these beautiful but narrow roads, or the oil companies are once again manipulating the truth about their activities.  I hope that the media and a small but vocal group of protesters can at least force them to be honest about their intentions and to treat inquiring citizens as just that, people who want to protect the land they love.