Eighth Annual Celebrations of Wild Idaho Rising Tide


Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) is celebrating its March 31, eighth anniversary as a regional, climate activist collective confronting the root causes and perpetrators of climate change, through direct actions and locally organized solutions.  We invite and welcome everyone of all ages to share this milestone at two Eighth Annual Celebrations of Wild Idaho Rising Tide in Moscow and Sandpoint.  These benefit concerts offered by north Idaho poets and musicians feature potluck snacks and beverages and a background slide show of WIRT activities at both locations.  Come and enjoy our yearly festivities that raise awareness, involvement, and funds supporting our #No2ndBridge lawsuit and relentless, volunteer, WIRT activism, in solidarity with frontline communities and grassroots networks of fossil fuel resistance [1, 2].

WIRT activists, members, friends, and allies eagerly anticipate these lively musical and social gatherings.  Suggested admission donations of $5 or more at the doors to these otherwise free, public events assist the dedicated work of WIRT and allies to banish new and expanded, fossil fuel infrastructure throughout the Northwest.  Please join dirty energy resisters for a well-deserved, reinvigorating evening full of shared camaraderie, spirited conversations, exuberant dancing, good food and drink, and live music of multiple genres, played by talented, visiting, and resident songwriters and performers.

Moscow: Friday, March 29, 7 to 10 pm at The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street

Fiddlin’ Big Al & Guests

KRFP Radio Free Moscow DJ and board member and core WIRT and Standing Rock activist, Fiddlin’ Big Al Chidester of Moscow plays ragtime, honky-tonk piano, fiddle, and guitar, singing old-timey, country blues and original, socio-political satire songs.  Al started the practice of playing traditional, phase-shifted, electric viola, adding to his multi-instrumental, experimental Americana repertoire on mandolin, banjo, dobro, and lap steel guitar.  He writes humorous, topical songs about peace, freedom, and political hypocrisy, some recorded on his 2004 album Where Were You the Night New Orleans Drowned? and Other Songs for Our Time.  Besides performing at Northwest barter fairs and hosting a long-running, jam session at the Moscow Moose Lodge, Fiddlin’ Big Al broadcasts several, weekly, KRFP, music shows, giving airplay to an eclectic mix of genre-bending music, recorded performances from regional venues, and occasional, live, studio sessions [3].

Sandpoint: Saturday, March 30, 7 to 10 pm at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street

Open-Mic Poetry

Everyone who would like to read or perform their creative work can sign up starting at 7 pm for a five-minute spot on the stage mic opening at 7:30 pm.

Kevin Dorin

A one-man band who performs folk, rock, and blues, Kevin hales from his hometown of Calgary, Alberta, as a soulful blues traveler influenced by the music of Ryan Adams, Feist, Jack Johnson, and Maticulous. He plays electric and acoustic guitar, harmonica, and sings covers and original songs [4]. Continue reading

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#No2ndBridge Comment Deadline, Hearings, Petitions, & 8th WIRT Celebrations


Coast Guard Draft EA Hearings

Thanks to the dozens of citizens who participated in the public hearings hosted by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) at the Ponderay Events Center, on Wednesday, March 13!  The heartwarming demonstrations of strong, thoughtful, regional resistance to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway proposal to build second train bridges over Sand Creek and Lake Pend Oreille in Sandpoint and Bonner County witnessed 23 of 29 testifiers speaking against the project: All seven at the 8 am meeting, and 16 of 22 at the 6 pm proceedings.  Collectively and abundantly, our community possesses plenty of knowledge and passion to heavily supplement the project’s public record with counter-information, and to exhaust all administrative remedies, as we expect better outcomes than from rigged, state hearings and comments.

Offering most of three hours of testimony on the inadequate, draft environmental assessment (EA) for the BNSF Sandpoint Junction Connector project, opponents raised concerns about rail infrastructure expansion impacts on air and water quality, lakebed, mining and coal pollution disturbance, bull trout and other fish, nesting birds, construction noise, traffic, and economic effects, related industrial ventures, lake earthquake scenarios, global climate change from coal- and oil-by-rail exports, catastrophic, oil and hazardous chemical derailments, and more railroad neglect of spills into the watershed [1, 2].  Critics also faulted the draft EA with failure to engage and consult Native tribes and to consider recent seismic activity in bridge plans, overly optimistic impact projections, and insufficient spill-response plans and equipment, all calling for an independent, full environmental impact statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Six railroad supporters, trackside residents, and apparent, labor union, bridge construction accomplices voiced favor for the purported economic benefits, relieved road and rail traffic congestion, and reduced semi-trucks of displaced railroad freight anticipated by the project.  They talked about elimination of train and vehicle bottlenecks across the lake and at crossings, track maintenance and safety, and the supposed success of the U.S. Highway 95 Sand Creek Byway.

Drawing on insights from our ongoing, state encroachment permit lawsuit, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists provided several, legally defensible points extemporaneously and prepared from our research, email alerts, and comment suggestions offered by other groups [3, 4].  In our oral comments, we noted regional and nationwide, BNSF derailment numbers, conditions, and history, possible connections between the proposed, Newport, Washington, silicon smelter and BNSF bridge and track expansion in north Idaho, and lack of USCG notification of navigation-impact commenters about a subsequently prolonged comment period and changed, lake and creek bridge designs, which drew audience gasps.  WIRT also mentioned incomplete or non-existent consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on threatened bull trout and its critical habitat in the project area, and with regional, sovereign nations, except the Kootenai and especially missing the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe of a WIRT board member.

However, WIRT activists were surprised by allied organization’s unnecessary, public statements at the hearings, about their neutral positions neither supporting nor opposing the BNSF bridge project, which foist the burden of commitment to court challenges and physical resistance of agency decision and permit outcomes on overworked, volunteer, regional community groups.  We have received no replies to our request for their explanations of motivations behind these most disheartening remarks.

Hearing & Bridge Issue Reports

WIRT photographed and recorded most, but not all, of the March 13, morning and evening hearing testimony for facebook-posting and broadcasting on our weekly, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by climate activists for over seven years, for progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow [5, 6].  Besides news and reflections describing continent-wide resistance to fossil fuel projects, the root causes of climate change, and related topics, we aired the morning hearing during the last half-hour of the March 13 show, and the first half of the evening hearing on the March 20 edition, both temporarily available for listening on Radio Free America, by searching for KRFP, and viewing its full archive of Wednesday shows [7].  Tune in to 90.3 FM and online next (and every!) Wednesday, between 1:30 and 3 pm Pacific time, to hear the last hour of the evening, March 13 hearing [8].

Considering that “public” television and Idaho welcome ads and funds from fossil fuel companies, we are not surprised that an Idaho public television program about Lake Pend Oreille lingered long on depicting Kalispel home lands/waters and lake fisheries issues culminating with bull trout, but never identified it as an endangered species, before the show launched into the railroad history and context of the #No2ndBridge battle (between 34:45 and 38:30), but never mentioned proposed, fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails construction in bull trout’s federally-designated critical habitat in the lake [9].  At least, the one-hour presentation revealed the natural beauty and jeopardized health of our Panhandle region.

#No2ndBridge Comments by Monday, March 25

As the lead, federal agency overseeing BNSF bridge permits and project analysis under NEPA, the Coast Guard needs to hear from north Idahoans and our regional neighbors, via the potentially last opportunity to request that the USCG require additional impact evaluations through an EIS, instead of issuing a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) and final EA.  Individually unique comments, which substantively address the deficiencies of the draft EA documents and processes and the BNSF project, provide the counterbalance of local wisdom so crucial to community protection of our watershed.  With only days remaining to act, see the WIRT website and facebook pages for further information to assist your letter, and share your earnest, public input efforts with your friends and family.

Please search for and review your project issue(s) of concern among the draft EA documents at the federal e-rulemaking portal (http://www.regulations.gov), and identify docket number USCG-2018-1085 in your respectful comments accepted until 9 pm on Monday, March 25.  Ask the Coast Guard to include your remarks and accompanying facts in the public record for this project, for an extension to 90 days for this winter-inappropriate, comment period, to better involve seasonal residents, for hearings in the most impacted community, Sandpoint, for considerations of alternative rail and bridge routes, for core samples of pollution in the lake bed, railroad right-of-way/easement, and for a more scientifically rigorous, unbiased, environmental impact study and statement examining this BNSF scheme.  WIRT activists eagerly anticipate and appreciate everyone’s initiative, expertise, and advocacy during this decisive, project review phase.

WIRT Petition, Litigation, Crowdfunding, & Annual Celebration Continue reading

BNSF Bridges Draft EA Comment & Testimony Resources


Thanks to the dozens of Missoula, Moscow, Sandpoint, and Spokane activists who participated in the slide shows and lively discussions about Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s proposed, Lake Pend Oreille, Sand Creek, and Sandpoint area, bridge and track expansion, associated, public input and agency decision processes, the Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) petition for judicial review of a state encroachment permit for the project, and effective, comment and testimony tactics for opposing the current, U.S. Coast Guard, draft environmental assessment (EA), issued instead of a more scientifically rigorous, draft environmental impact statement (EIS) on February 6.  WIRT activists are grateful to meet, see again, and talk and stay with the dedicated, regional community members so essential to the continent-wide, grassroots movement of water and climate protectors resisting fossil fuel infrastructure!  Thanks for your hospitality and ongoing work!

Since early February, WIRT activists have engaged regional activists, friends, and supporters via 2000-plus email alerts, over 500 facebook posts, 750 miles of visits, and hundreds of event announcement media releases, flyers, and handouts, to instigate public participation in four #No2ndBridge talks and draft EA comment and testimony opportunities.  We also rescheduled our Spokane presentation to attend the March 7, Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper (LPOW)-Idaho Conservation League (ICL) meeting about the draft EA, to ascertain and assert #No2ndBridge intentions for court challenges of a final EA and an unimaginable finding of no significant impact (FONSI).

Please join climate and conservation organizations across the Northwest in providing written and oral remarks via these (potentially last!) opportunities:

Public hearings: 8 am and 6 pm, Wednesday, March 13, Ponderay Events Center, 401 Bonner Mall Way, Ponderay, Idaho

Comment portal: https://www.regulations.gov, search for USCG-2018-1085, by March 25

Mail: Steven Fischer, Thirteenth Coast Guard District, 915 Second Avenue, Seattle, WA 98174-1067, for receipt by March 25 Continue reading

#No2ndBridge Regional Talks


During the upcoming week, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and allied activists invite concerned, community members to participate in #No2ndBridge, regional talks and slide show presentations with refreshments in Missoula, Moscow, Sandpoint, and Spokane.  Event hosts of these free, open meetings ask everyone attending to bring and share snacks, stories, images, and donations, and learn about the natural and human environment of Lake Pend Oreille and the ongoing and potentially increasing traffic, noise, pollution, and derailment dangers of Northwest and north Idaho, railroad ‘funnel,’ fossil fuels and hazardous materials trains.

Discussions will cover the significant, adverse impacts of Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s proposed Sandpoint Junction Connector construction and operation of two temporary and three permanent, parallel, railroad bridges and doubled tracks across Sandpoint, Sand Creek, and almost one mile over Idaho’s largest lake.  As described in the WIRT petition to deny and revoke permits for this BNSF project, which we encourage you to sign with comments, this flawed, railroad expansion risking bi-directional train passage would degrade lake and aquifer water (is life!) sources, air and scenic qualities, native fish, wildlife, threatened bull trout, and their habitats, indigenous cultures, treaties, and rights, public and environmental health and safety, historic sites and private properties, boat navigation and emergency and vehicle travel, and recreation, tourism, residence, business, and economic interests and values [1].

Missoula: Tuesday, March 5, at 7 pm in the Union Hall, upstairs ballroom, 208 East Main Street in Missoula, Montana, co-hosted with 350 Montana

Moscow: Wednesday, March 6, at 7 pm in the 1912 Center, Fiske room, 412 East Third Street in Moscow, Idaho, co-hosted with the Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition (PESC)

Sandpoint: Saturday, March 9, at 10 am in the Gardenia Center, main floor chapel, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint, Idaho, with guest speakers

Spokane: Sunday, March 10, at 1 pm in the Liberty Park United Methodist Church, community room, 1526 East Eleventh Avenue in Spokane, Washington, co-hosted with The Oak Tree

Seeking to amplify regional resistance and rejection of this culpable, railroad scheme to build fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails infrastructure, by installing and removing over one thousand piles in train-spewed, stream and lake bed, coal deposits and bull trout critical habitat, WIRT activists will provide suggestions for oral testimony on March 13 at two Ponderay, Idaho, hearings and for comments due by March 25, on a draft environmental assessment (EA) released on February 6 by the project’s lead regulator, the U.S. Coast Guard [2].  Unless public processes or the courts secure a more scientifically-rigorous, community-preferred environmental impact statement (EIS), March 2019 offers the last opportunity for review and input on this BNSF proposal.  Presenters will also give updates and request support for the nine-month, WIRT petition for judicial review challenging the BNSF, lake encroachment permit granted on June 21, 2018, by the Idaho Department of Lands and State Board of Land Commissioners [3, 4].  Litigants currently await a district court decision on a February 8, 2019, hearing and state and intervenor BNSF motions to dismiss the case, after petitioner WIRT filed strong, meritorious arguments in a December 13, 2018, opening brief.

For further event and issue information, visit the WIRT facebook and website pages and outreach tables at regional, public events and farmers markets, contact us with your concerns, and print and post the accompanying flyer [5].  Ask the federal agencies reviewing BNSF applications and deliberating permit decisions to extend the comment period to 90 days, hold hearings in Sandpoint, include your comments in the project’s public record, and fully analyze this railroad expansion with an environmental impact study and statement.  Thanks!  #No2ndBridge! Continue reading

WIRT v. IDL/Land Board/BNSF


An updated outline and eventual description of the #No2ndBridge, state court case, with links to pertinent documents, drawn from the electronic, online, Idaho judicial records system, iCourt: Select “Smart Search,” enter “Wild Idaho Rising Tide” and the captcha code, and click “Submit,” then the case number CV09-18-1084.

Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), petitioner, versus David Groeschl, Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) former director, Chris Bromley, IDL hearing officer, and Idaho State Board of Land Commissioners (land board), (state) respondents, and Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway, intervenor

July 20, 2018: WIRT filed a Notice of Appeal of Final Order of Approval of Encroachment Permit L-96-S-0096E to Applicant BNSF, as a new appeal or petition for judicial review (civil case type L3), with filing fees and a posted, cash bond of $500, in Idaho first district court in Sandpoint, Bonner County, initiating active and pending case number CV09-18-1084.

July 25, 2018: First district judge Barbara Buchanan issued a notice of proposed case dismissal and an order striking the WIRT notice of appeal.

August 7, 2018: WIRT filed a request for a filing extension for an amended notice of appeal and petition for judicial review of the final order of approval of encroachment permit L-96-S-0096E to applicant BNSF.

August 15, 2018: First district judge Barbara Buchanan issued an order granting the WIRT request for a filing extension.

August 20, 2018: Retained, case lead attorney Angela Schaer Kaufmann and retained attorney Joy Vega, both of the Idaho attorney general office, filed their notice of appearance for state respondents.

September 4, 2018: WIRT filed an Amended Notice of Appeal & or Petition for Judicial Review, a request for a signed, verbatim transcript of the May 23, 2018, IDL/land board hearings, as exhibit A of the amended notice of appeal, and retained, case lead attorney Wendy Jordan Earle filed a notice of appearance for the petitioner. Continue reading