The Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition (PRDC), Palouse Prairie Foundation, and Idaho Native Plant Society encourage everyone to join a field tour of sites along and near the proposed U.S. Highway 95 E-2 realignment on the west flank of Paradise Ridge. On Sunday, May 19, starting at 2:00 pm, participants will meet at the parking lot of the University of Idaho Arboretum, 1200 West Palouse River Drive in Moscow, and carpool to Zeitler Road east of Highway 95. People attending the field tour will view sites with ungulate/big game habitat, spring wildflowers, and native Palouse Prairie. Regional botanists and wildlife biologists who know the area well will help guide the tour. The co-sponsors are inviting the public as well as the Moscow mayor and city council, Latah County commissioners, Idaho state legislators, and the press. After the planned field tour, hosts will also lead a hike to the top of Paradise Ridge, for participants who wish to enjoy the natural areas and vast views of the ridge.
PRDC and allies are eager for resolution of Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) plans to reroute the 6.5-mile section of Highway 95 between Moscow and Thorn Creek Road. ITD’s draft environmental impact statement (EIS) and technical reports document three alternatives for highway realignment. Besides concerns for a better, safer highway that would upgrade, straighten, and widen the current roadway to four lanes, community members hope that this highway project will not disturb some of the last, best, remaining native Palouse Prairie remnants. On Paradise Ridge slopes, parts of this critically endangered prairie ecosystem survive perilously close to the suggested E-2 route. This higher-elevation, severe weather-exposed, eastern alternative would spread weeds into Palouse Prairie remnants and destroy more wetlands and wildlife habitat than the C-3 central alignment. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have advised against construction of the E-2 alternative, due to likely impacts to these habitats. Later in 2013, ITD intends to release its final EIS and accept additional public comments about preferences for the least disruptive, most beneficial highway realignment option for people, property, and the environment.
The Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition works to ensure and enhance the public safety, environmental integrity, and natural aesthetics of Paradise Ridge and its environs, by engaging local citizens and civic/conservation groups in the area. Coalition members urge fellow Moscow area residents to learn more about Paradise Ridge through involvement in this Sunday, May 19, field tour. PRDC anticipates providing further educational events, informational meetings, and community participation opportunities on this urgent issue. Please visit the PRDC website, peruse the ITD draft EIS, and print and post the attached Paradise Ridge Field Tour Flyer.
Contact: Mary and Steve Ullrich, Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition