WIRT Newsletter: Congratula​tions, Condolence​s, Upcoming Events, & Highway 95/200 Megaloads


CONGRATULATIONS & CONDOLENCES

Congratulations to all of the diligent, inspiring, fellow Moscow citizens and Earth Day Award recipients, especially Pat Rathmann of the Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition (PESC) and Citizens’ Climate Lobby, who make even radical Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists proud to call Moscow home! [1, 2]

Our dear comrade, core WIRT activist Paul McPoland, died unexpectedly of unknown causes at a friend’s dwelling where he had been staying, on the night of April 29-30.  City police officers are still notifying his family and investigating the situation, while friends arrange a memorial that will likely take place in Moscow on the weekend of May 16 to 18.

Moscow also lost our beloved regional outdoor recreation expert and generous benefactor of community causes including WIRT, John Crock, owner of Hyperspud Sports, on April 28.  We extend our deepest sympathies to John’s family and Laurene Sorensen, his long-time partner, new wife, and this year’s Moscow Renaissance Fair Queen [3].

All Against the Haul founder and Oregon anti-megaload activist Trish Weber and her husband Mark Rose of Corvallis, Oregon, and hundreds of friends and family members grieve the death of their seven-year-old son, Nigel Rose-Weber, on April 4, after he stayed home from school due to sudden illness [4].

UPCOMING EVENTS

(Check the WIRT website Events Calendar often!)

May 3-4: Moscow Renaissance Fair

Come out to the Moscow Renaissance Fair this weekend, May 3 and 4.  On Saturday and Sunday, from 10 am until 6 pm (and later on Saturday), WIRT will be roaming the East City Park grounds in Moscow, Idaho, selling Clean Energy Bars: cookie- and brownie-like snack bars made of organic, healthful, non-sugar ingredients [5].  All proceeds support our outreach work, travel funds, and demonstration supplies (and maybe some upcoming, anti-megaload, legal fees…).  Watch for a wandering WIRT vendor that looks like the following linked image, except in Renaissance garb [6].  WIRT activists are welcome to dress the part and take shifts: We are begging for basic, bake-sale survival.

May 9: Nez Perce Grassroots Environmental Summit

Respectfully participate in the Nez Perce Grassroots Environmental Summit between 9 am and 4 pm on Friday, May 9, at the Clearwater River Resort, 17500 Nez Perce Road off Highway 2/95 near Lewiston, Idaho [7-9].  Coordinating partners Nez Perce Tribal Environmental Association and Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples invite all tribal nations and supporters among Rising Tide groups and regional environmental and tribal organizations to attend the gathering and speak about Pacific Northwest and greater Northern Plains issues such as treaty rights, tar sands, megaloads, climate change, and wolf protection.  This high-priority summit could occur at about the same time and place as the first of three 1.6-million-pound, Great Falls tar sands refinery megaloads would attempt to climb the seven-percent Lewiston Grade, gaining 2000 vertical feet in seven miles out of the Snake/Clearwater River valley.

For registration and information, contact Julian Matthews at jmatthews@alumni.uidaho.edu or 208-790-4296.  Please widely share and distribute the event poster and facebook and email announcements to your tribal and non-tribal contacts across the region, and let WIRT know how we can assist your attendance of this great convergence.  Portlanders are organizing carpools via Vicki Creel and Kath Cotrell, who have expressed interest in such a trip.  The WIRT Activists House and van, about 30 miles away from this summit, can lodge and transport up to seven people, and core WIRT activist Sharon Cousins has offered space for a few people to sleep indoors or in tents, trucks, or vans.  To protect sacred air, Moscow and Pullman area activists will carpool from the Eastside Marketplace south parking lot, near the Troy Highway, at 8 am on Friday, May 9.

June 24-July 1: Fifth & Final Tar Sands Healing Walk

Join PESC and WIRT carpools and caravans to and from First Nations communities near tar sands mining operations surrounding Fort McMurray, Alberta, via the Tar Sands Solidarity Journey from June 24 to July 1.  This summer marks your last opportunity to participate in the final Athabasca region Tar Sands Healing Walk, happening on Friday to Sunday, June 27 to 29 [10].  As healing walk organizers explain, “The story of the Athabasca region is only one small piece of the immense scope of this issue…It’s time for the Healing Walk to shed light on other communities, other extraction practices, other bodies of water, and other places…In order to stop the destruction, the healing has to start everywhere.”  Hundreds of healing walk participants would greatly appreciate Nimiipuu, Umatilla, Warm Springs, Coeur d’Alene, and Montana tribal participation and stories of tar sands resistance, so please consider involvement in this significant event.  Expect a WIRT event announcement about the Tar Sands Solidarity Journey soon.

HIGHWAY 95/200 MEGALOADS

As described in previous Wild Idaho Rising Tide dispatches, the Federal Highway Administration determined in mid-February that the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) and megaload hauler Mammoet USA South must produce a more stringent environmental assessment, rather than a categorical exclusion, analysis of the proposed Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive Temporary Overweight Truck Route, likely due to public pressure and attorney and coalition letters [11].  For now, a gravel, “temporary,” wrong-way, Interstate 90 on-ramp, built on a trail between two wetlands, and a lakeside parking lot for megaload layover – both near where previous interchange construction collapsed into the toxic, Superfund sludge-bottomed lake – will not have to withstand three 1.6-million-pound transports of a hydrocracker tripling the tar sands production of a Great Falls, Montana, refinery.  A rapidly approaching recreation and tourism season in the Idaho and Montana Rocky Mountains could crowd these behemoths off area thoroughfares.

Slowed and blocked by WIRT and other groups, Mammoet and ITD are rerouting the cargo toward the northern Idaho reaches of U.S. Highway 95 and Idaho Highway 200, as a solution to the procedural impasse.  After the megaloads rumble out of the Port of Wilma near Lewiston, up the grade, and through Moscow, they would venture over Lake Pend Oreille toward Sandpoint and Montana.  WIRT organized and scheduled four brief and simple, early-April evening meetings/presentations and weekend direct action training sessions in Sandpoint, Plummer, Coeur d’Alene, and Moscow [12].  As WIRT activists eagerly anticipated talking with concerned Sandpoint area residents about possibly impending Mammoet-hauled shipments at the Sandpoint Library on April 2, public meeting plans appeared on the front page of the Sandpoint newspaper on April Fool’s Day and in the Coeur d’Alene Press [13-15].  After one and a half years since the last WIRT (coal train) protest in Sandpoint, we are grateful for local media coverage stating, “Wild Idaho Rising Tide opposes megaloads, contending they would exacerbate climate change due to their links to controversial tar sands oil development in Canada and the proposed [Keystone] XL pipeline.”

At the gathering in the Sandpoint Library Rude Girls Room, we encountered a mixed-opinion crowd, who transformed a slide show talk into a heated megaload/energy discussion among a dozen concerned citizens, public officials, journalists, and activists [16].  Thankful for the opportunity to engage area citizens and never relent in carrying this campaign forward, despite the hardships and costs of travel, WIRT called for assistance with planning logistics for a fact-finding trip videotaping and observing the proposed Highway 200 megaload route, before returning south on Thursday, April 3.  With four videos shot heading east and west while scouting in the Sandpoint area, we documented the routes where Mammoet would haul the heaviest, longest, and widest tar sands megaloads, weighing double recent evaporators and attempting passage on increasingly more circuitous and potentially catastrophic routes across northern Idaho [17-20].

Locals have expressed intense concerns about the possibilities of the giant loads cumulatively collapsing the Highway 95 Long Bridge south of Sandpoint and the two-year-old, elevated bypass around downtown, the Sand Creek Byway, which were both not built to support so much weight on a regular basis [21].  A late-March article in Sandpoint’s Bonner County Daily Bee indicated that ITD has stated that the Long Bridge needs replacement because of rusty pilings and other structural weaknesses, but no funding is available for the work at this time [22].  How can ITD even consider allowing 1.6-million-pound loads to cross this already compromised, almost two-mile-long bridge?

According to the National Bridge Inventory database, the latest megaload route through northern Idaho and western Montana would traverse four structurally deficient bridges, including one span over Trestle Creek just west of Hope, Idaho, with only a two-percent sufficiency rating [23-26].  Analyses by the century-old U.S. transportation design and construction industry group, American Road and Transportation Builders Association, of bridge data supplied by the states to the U.S. Department of Transportation found that ten percent of Idaho bridges are classified as structurally deficient, ranking Idaho 23rd worst in the nation [27].  Idaho spent only $51.1 million dollars on average annually in federal aid on bridge improvement construction projects over the last decade, one the lowest amounts of all the states that spent up to $845 million.  New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming spent between $23 and $26 million average annually.  And “without congressional action,…there will be no Highway Trust Fund support for any new road, bridge, or public transportation projects in any state during fiscal year 2015, which begins October 1.”

U.S. Highway 12 is not the only remote road crossing cherished public lands and waters in Idaho.  If Mammoet was looking for a route maximizing tar sands transport incursions through or near state-managed wildlife habitat, it found it on the Idaho Highway 200 stretch between Sandpoint and the Montana border during spring 2014.  The heavy hauler’s monstrosities would impact six wildlife management areas or preserves, traversing the Pack River Game Management Area and the Pend Oreille State Wildlife Management Area, passing next to the David Thompson State Wildlife Preserve, and traveling close to three other game management areas along the federally-designated Pend Oreille Scenic Byway [28-30].  Mammoet and megaload owner Calumet are planning a fast track from natural riches to industrial ruin, transforming the beautiful Idaho Highway 200 Pend Oreille National Scenic Byway into a heavily-used, equipment-hauling corridor along the northeast shore of Lake Pend Oreille and east up the Clark Fork River valley through Cabinet Gorge in Montana.

Early-April WIRT reconnaissance of this impending megaload route witnessed tree removal along the scenic byway, later described as observed in a mid-April Daily Bee article [31].  “Leading the pack of suspicions was that the trees were being taken down to accommodate a proposal to truck massive pieces of oil refinery equipment on Highway 200 en route to Great Falls, Montana.”  Most of the ITD pillage occurred in the state-overseen Pack River Game Management Area and beside the scenic byway.  Whether providing opportunities for community tree planting or causes for litigation, megaload-related ITD activities will continue to prompt WIRT and partners to request and examine public records, submit inquiries to Idaho and Montana agencies, consult with conservation groups and attorneys, visit and talk with northern Idaho citizens, and compile extensive newsletter updates about megaload situations over the next few months.

While WIRT was in Boise protesting oil and gas leasing of state lands and minerals on Thursday, April 17, and having long conversations with a very capable attorney, we missed talking with a Sandpoint news editor who quoted ITD District 1 (Coeur d’Alene) operations manager Jason Minzghor saying that the Highway 95/200 loads could roll in three to five weeks [32-34].  Back from the Boise ‘Gasland’ trenches, WIRT delved deeper into public records and jurisdictions and searched for legal hooks concerning Highway 95/200 alternative routes.  Montana colleagues assured us that, as noted in the aforementioned Daily Bee article, the diverted and recently revealed megaload route through their state would not constitute the “path of least resistance.”  In fact, Mammoet would meet more opposition in Montana than it had ever seen or even dreamed as possible.  (An upcoming WIRT newsletter will detail Montana, Oregon, and Highway 12 anti-megaload developments.)  Moscow area activists also anticipate and appreciate protesting with Nimiipuu and Coeur d’Alene Tribe friends and warriors when the time comes.

In response to an April 28 WIRT public records request, we received a Tuesday morning phone call from ITD District 1 business manager Scotty Fellom [35].  He questionably told us that:

1) ITD, the Federal Highway Administration, Mammoet, and their contractors have generated no new public records pertaining to the Mammoet proposal to transport three 1.6-million-pound megaloads on U.S. Highway 95 and Idaho Highway 200, through Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint, Idaho, since ITD’s March 24 transmission of public records to WIRT.  This statement contradicts the April 18 Bonner County Daily Bee article relaying ITD explanations of current weight-bearing analyses of Highway 95 and 200 bridges by contracted engineering consulting firm Forsgren Associates.

2) This planned Mammoet megaload haul will not occur for an extended period of time, another statement conflicting with the article’s mention that, “A permit for the oversized loads could be issued in the next three to five weeks,” after determinations of bridge crossing safety.

3) Idaho Highway 200 and the Highway 95 Long Bridge are not parts of a viable route for this Mammoet transportation project, and Mammoet will need to find other routes for hauling these three loads to Great Falls, Montana.

Amid megaload routing and timing uncertainties, WIRT awaits a requested letter from ITD, affirming this information stated by Mr. Fellom during our phone conversation.  Meanwhile, West Coast core WIRT activists and Highway 12 anti-megaload allies have consistently found the Mammoet megaloads abandoned behind a chain link fence at the Port of Wilma, without a guard or pull and push trucks in sight over the last month [36].  At present, potential but unconfirmed other Mammoet route possibilities besides Highway 200 include waiting for the environmental assessment process and again attempting the temporary Interstate 90 on-ramp east of Coeur d’Alene.  Otherwise, these humongous loads could go around Long Bridge, likely through Newport, Washington, north of Spokane, as initially suspected and mapped when WIRT first learned of Sandpoint megaload passage.  After lumbering upriver on U.S. Highway 2 to Sandpoint, they could continue north on Highway 2/95 to Bonners Ferry and into Montana on U.S. Highway 2.  The tar sands hydrocracker parts could journey close to a small band of the Kootenai tribe, who refused to sign any treaties with the United States and consequently have no reservation.  But its members, who declared war on the U.S. in 1974, collectively own 12 acres of land located near Bonners Ferry.

Sandpoint, Coeur d’Alene, and other north Idaho residents are increasingly focusing their attention and a grassroots battle on the ludicrous prospects of massive loads moving on sub-standard, narrow, winding, and climbing roads that are often wet, snow-packed, and slippery, through tiny Hope, Clark Fork, and Sandpoint.  They are infuriated and ready to defend their beautiful homeland from coal trains, oil trains, tar sands megaloads, and the wealth and power behind the insanity of fossil fuel exploitation.  People who live on private property bordering the planned megaload route are talking about how their land hosts habitat and shelter for many bird and wildlife species, and about how already abundant coal trains roll by, sometimes just minutes apart.  Their open cars, shaking along the route or sitting parked on double tracks for hours, let surfactant-sprayed but nonetheless loose coal dust freely blow in the wind.  But compared to Europe’s and China’s stone cities that have been cultivating land for thousands of years with metal, only elk turned the soil more than humans before 170 years ago in Idaho, a place that rapidly “progressed” from indigenous to industrial culture.  With so many more undisturbed, intact ecosystems than in much of the continent or world, Idahoans intend to hold the line against corporate onslaughts.

Despite telling state legislators and agencies that we will not allow these heavy loads to pass, many government employees, who should advocate for the people’s best interests, seem to only chase the almighty dollar.  Unfortunately, Idahoans can forget about leaders like Governor Otter actually protecting Idaho lands, water, and wildlife from industrial invasions, and should instead vote him and arrogant others out of office, and urge ITD to deny megaload permits and disapprove the Sandpoint route.  As corporations and decision-makers rewrite laws to benefit vested interests and investors, and ITD appears lawless, some regional residents believe that they have no choice or chance against these government machinations.  But they can remember other citizens who raised resistance in recent years to a multitude of tar sands equipment shipments on U.S. Highway 12 and alternative north/south corridors, like Highway 95 through Moscow from the Port of Lewiston and Highway 395 and Interstate 90 through Spokane from the Port of Pasco.  Idaho activists will create ever more effective confrontations in the streets and courts to show a stronger anti-megaload presence and dedication to our planet’s climate future.  Respect existence or expect resistance!

Wild Idaho Rising Tide

P.O. Box 9817, Moscow, Idaho 83843

WildIdahoRisingTide.org

Facebook.com/WildIdaho.RisingTide

Twitter.com/WildIdahoRT

208-301-8039

[1] Mayor’s Earth Day Awards Announced (April 22, 2014 City of Moscow)

[2] 2014 Mayor’s Earth Day Awards (April 22, 2014 City of Moscow photos)

[3] Queen Will Wear Green to Honor Lost Husband (May 1, 2014 Moscow-Pullman Daily News)

[4] Corvallis Police Release Name in Child Death Investigation (April 4, 2014 Corvallis Gazette-Times)

[5] Moscow Renaissance Fair (Moscow Renaissance Fair website)

[6] Wearable Basket (photo)

[7] Nez Perce Tribal Members Grassroots Environmental Summit (April 19, 2014 Julian Matthews facebook event)

[8] Nez Perce Grassroots Environmental Summit (April 25, 2014 Seventh Generation Fund poster)

[9] Clearwater River Casino and Lodge (2014 Nez Perce Tribe website)

[10] Tar Sands Healing Walk (2014 Keepers of the Athabasca website)

[11] Mammoet 2014 Megaloads (Wild Idaho Rising Tide website category)

[12] Mammoet Megaloads/Keystone XL Pipeline Gatherings & Trainings (March 31, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[13] Megaload Foes Meet Wednesday (April 1, 2014 Bonner County Daily Bee)

[14] Megaload Foes Meet Wednesday (April 2, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide photo)

[15] Bonner County Megaload Foes Meet Today (April 2, 2014 Coeur d’Alene Press)

[16] Mammoet Megaloads/Keystone XL Pipeline Gatherings & Trainings (April 2, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide photo)

[17] Proposed 1.6-Million-Pound Mammoet Megaload Route: Long Bridge 4-3-14 (April 3, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide video)

[18] Proposed 1.6-Million-Pound Mammoet Megaload Route: Eastbound Idaho Highway 200 4-3-14 (1 of 2) (April 3, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide video)

[19] Proposed 1.6-Million-Pound Mammoet Megaload Route: Eastbound Idaho Highway 200 4-3-14 (2 of 2) (April 3, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide video)

[20] Proposed 1.6-Million-Pound Mammoet Megaload Route: Westbound Idaho Highway 200 4-3-14 (April 3, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide video pending posting)

[21] Sandpoint’s New Highway Bypass (June 3, 2012 Spokesman-Review)

[22] Bridge, Widening Are a Matter of When (March 26, 2014 Bonner County Daily Bee)

[23] U.S. Highway 95 Structurally Deficient Bridge 14.5 Miles North of Moscow, Idaho, over W.I. & M. Railroad (2014 NationalBridges: The National Bridge Inventory Database)

[24] Idaho Highway 200 Structurally Deficient Bridge 3 Miles West of Hope, Idaho, over Trestle Creek (2014 NationalBridges: The National Bridge Inventory Database)

[25] U.S. Highway 2 Structurally Deficient Bridge 22 miles Northwest of Happy’s Camp, Montana, over Swamp Creek (2014 NationalBridges: The National Bridge Inventory Database)

[26] Montana Highway 200 Structurally Deficient Bridge 4 Miles Southeast of Ovando, Montana, over the North Fork Blackfoot River (2014 NationalBridges: The National Bridge Inventory Database)

[27] As Collapse of Federal Support for Highway and Bridge Investment Draws Near, More than 406 Idaho Bridges Need Structural Repair, New Analysis Finds (April 24, 2014 PR Newswire) (Map)

[28] Highway 200 State Wildlife Areas (April 6, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide photo 1 and photo 2)

[29] Pend Oreille Scenic Byway: National Scenic Byway – Idaho (2014 Federal Highway Administration map)

[30] Pend Oreille Scenic Byway – Idaho (2103 Idaho Public Television)

[31] ITD Explains Scenic Byway Tree Removal (April 16, 2014 Bonner County Daily Bee)

[32] County May Be Path of Least Resistance for Megaloads (April 18, 2014 Bonner County Daily Bee)

[33] Megaloads: Less Resistance in Bonner County (April 18, 2014 Coeur d’Alene Press)

[34] Bee: New Idaho Mega-Load Route May Not Need NEPA Analysis (April 19, 2014 Boise Weekly)

[35] ITD Unclear on 1.6-Million-Pound Megaload Route (April 29, 2014 KRFP Evening Report)

[36] Mammoet MegaLoads – Port of Wilma – 4/28/2014 (April 28, 2014 Herb Goodwin photos)

[37] Kootenai Tribe of Idaho (Kootenai Tribe of Idaho website)

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5 thoughts on “WIRT Newsletter: Congratula​tions, Condolence​s, Upcoming Events, & Highway 95/200 Megaloads

  1. Interesting reading some of your fabricated articles. I do think your group is out of touch, especially with the Athabasca oil sands. Yes, you have taken away good jobs from Idaho and Montana, but have done nothing to stop development in northern Alberta. I heard the Suncor modules, for example, will be routing from Korea through primarily the Port of Everett and Port of Vancouver, then truck and rail to northern Alberta. So in this case, you factually were successful in eliminating good jobs in Idaho and Montana, and created a much larger carbon footprint on the environment from the transport, while doing nothing to inhibit the project development itself. Nice job!

  2. Pingback: WIRT Newsletter: Highway 95 Megaload Resistance & Missing Trailer, Grassroots Environmen​tal Summit & Protests | Wild Idaho Rising Tide

  3. Pingback: WIRT Newsletter: Mammoet Withdraws Megaload Permits, But Perkins, the People, & the Ports Push On | Wild Idaho Rising Tide

  4. Pingback: Sunday, August 10, Launch & Opposition to Bigge-Haul​ed Calumet Megaload | Wild Idaho Rising Tide

  5. Pingback: WIRT Newsletter: Thursday WIRT Planning Potluck, Montana & Sandpoint Megaload Updates | Wild Idaho Rising Tide

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