Idaho & Montana Tar Sands Megaload Protests! Salmon 1-5-14 (Wild Idaho Rising Tide photos)
On Saturday, January 4, the first Omega Morgan-hauled tar sands megaload to cross southern Idaho left Howe after 10 pm, despite earlier, conflicting reports that the convoy would not move that night. Miscommunication slowed its launch for 45 minutes, as the Idaho State Police (ISP), Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), and Omega Morgan failed to inform the Butte County sheriff deputy and local law enforcement and first responders of the transport’s departure. Locals decried the lack of notice, protecting the big rig from ‘evil’ protesters, while risking the death or property loss of citizens. The megaload headed up Highway 28 over Gilmore Pass and through Leadore, to park about four or five miles before Salmon, almost to the 28 Club Restaurant, along the south side of Highway 28.
Occupying most of a large pull-out adjacent to the Lemhi L6 diversion and fish screen and ladder, next to the Lemhi River at the foot of the first bridge over it southeast of town, the megaload perched precariously close to the aquatic home of threatened Columbia Basin bull trout, Snake River Basin steelhead, and Snake River spring/summer Chinook salmon. The public has spent millions of dollars to help restore these rare fish and their critical habitats in riparian areas that also host nesting and wintering bald eagles, golden eagles, sage grouse, and other imperiled species.
During the sunny Sunday of January 5, people gawked, took photos, and chatted with the two security guards, without protesters or real police or sheriffs in sight, at the big tourist event that even attracted Idaho Falls folks, who were in the area with their children for a weekend hockey tournament. Apparently in Idaho, size matters, but so does climate change! The first passage of megaloads through southern Idaho presented great opportunities for Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists to educate citizens and raise money for the anti-tar sands cause, by distributing brochures and information to onlookers and selling hot chocolate, coffee, donuts, and perhaps even T-shirts with a map of megaload stops. Continue reading