Fifth Panhandle Paddle


#No2ndBridge Talk, Direct Action Training, Rally & Paddle

Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and allied activists, friends, and supporters invite and heartily welcome your input and involvement during an upcoming weekend of opportunities to discuss, train for, and stage resistance to the fossil fuels and railroad industry degraders of basic, global, human, environmental, and climate health and rights.  Interior Northwest residents are coordinating and co-hosting fifth annual, Panhandle Paddle activities, to unite against regional trains hauling volatile Alberta tar sands, fracked Bakken crude oil, dusty Powder River Basin coal, and other hazardous materials, and to oppose Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s planned bridge and track construction across downtown Sandpoint, Bridge Street, Sand Creek, and Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho [1].  We have chosen to maintain the yearly date and autonomy of Panhandle Paddle confrontations of government-rubberstamped, corporate transportation and infrastructure projects, separate from the massive, government-oriented bandwagon of September 20 and later, international, climate emergency strikes that divert and rely on local efforts to succeed, but rarely reciprocate such support [2].

Fossil fuel infrastructure use, expansion, and deterioration along and over inland Northwest waterways recklessly endanger air, water, climate, lands, lives, and communities, with the ongoing, increasing pollution and risks of coal and diesel emissions and catastrophic train wrecks, spills, fires, and explosions occurring weekly throughout the country.  Within eight months after a derailed oil train fire and spill jeopardized a nearby school, water treatment plant, and the Columbia River, in the small, scenic town of Mosier, Oregon, BNSF, Montana Rail Link, and Union Pacific imposed seven north Idaho and northwest Montana train derailments and collisions within 44 miles of Sandpoint in seven 2017 months, involving two grain and two coal trains, two vehicles with four teenagers, one dog, and two deaths [3, 4].  While WIRT directly confronted and documented BNSF’s preliminary, pile load testing for a second lake rail bridge at Dog Beach Park near Sandpoint, between May and September 2017, area railroad accidents culminated in the mid-August, wrecked train dump of tens of thousands of tons of coal into the Clark Fork-Pend Oreille watershed near Heron, Montana, upstream of river and lake drinking water sources [5].  Fully laden, flammable, crude oil and hazardous materials trains frequented the tracks surrounded by deep mounds of wreckage and spontaneously combusting, smoldering coal, which remained unremedied during five weeks of an unusually smoky wildfire season.

Since August 2014, when BNSF first proclaimed bridge expansion, and September 2015, when its plans dropped along with the price of oil, WIRT and #No2ndBridge activists have been preparing for a worst case scenario in north Idaho, as we await decisions by the U.S. Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers on BNSF’s still federally unpermitted, fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails bridge expansion through Sandpoint and almost one mile over Idaho’s largest, deepest lake, Pend Oreille [6-8].  For now, we are scheming legal maneuvers and planning regional marches in rapid response to these agency announcements, after the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality issued an uncontested, water quality certification in September 2018, and railroad and state attorney general lawyers convinced a Moscow judge to dismiss our expensive, underdog, district court case against a June 2018, Idaho Department of Lands, encroachment permit for BNSF’s Sandpoint Junction Connector Project, in March 2019 [9, 10].  Among myriad, significant, immitigable, cumulative impacts to  the environmental and public health and safety of north Idaho, BNSF’s $100 million gamble would drive over 1000 piles into regional drinking water, threatened bull trout critical habitat, train-spewed coal deposits, and the natural amenities foundation of the Sandpoint area tourism and recreation economy, for second (and likely third), parallel, railroad bridges and temporary work spans facilitating riskier, more derailment-vulnerable, bi-directional train traffic  [11].  Meanwhile, on the downtown Sandpoint, fossil fuels frontline, WIRT continues to daily document, for the #IDoiltrainwatch, #WAoiltrainwatch, and Portland tar sands opponents, every westbound, BNSF, unit train of dangerous, black tanker, and coal cars moving toward disasters waiting to happen in Lake Pend Oreille and downstream.

As the #No2ndBridge situation intensifies, we are reaching out to you, our regional network comrades, to share direct action skills and ask you to join with north Idaho, rail line communities in the crosshairs of the coal, oil, and railroad industries, to resist fossil-fueled climate change through these annual, Panhandle Paddle events on Friday through Sunday, September 6 to 8, in Sandpoint.  We would appreciate your participation in the talk, workshop, and paddle, your RSVP of your intentions for spots in kayaks, canoes, carpools, and camps, and your help with publicizing these free events, by sharing this event description, and printing and posting the color, letter-sized, PDF version of the WIRT website-linked Fifth Panhandle Paddle Flyer.

#No2ndBridge Talk

6 to 8 pm Friday, September 6

Gardenia Center, Sandpoint

At this informal, #No2ndBridge forum and discussion, citizens will share issue information, expand knowledge, and brainstorm ongoing tactics and strategies for creatively engaging and catalyzing further community resistance and regulatory and legal recourse to BNSF’s Sandpoint Junction Connector project and present, dirty energy infrastructure over Lake Pend Oreille and beyond, which activists have denounced during each of the Panhandle Paddles [12-15].  Please bring snacks and your concerns and ideas about campaign organizing and railroad monitoring and protesting, and gather with regional, event participants at 6 pm on Friday, September 6, at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint.  After the meeting, we plan to broaden camaraderie and coalitions among fellow activists, while continuing conversations and enjoying music at downtown pubs and nearby camps, on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Direct Action Training

10 am to 3 pm Saturday, September 7

Gardenia Center, Sandpoint

Converging from across the region, climate, environmental, and indigenous activists and water protectors will provide several, interactive, training workshops, through talks and videos sharing frontline skills, stories, and insights.  Advocating grassroots, direct actions at the sites of environmental destruction more than participation in expensive, ineffective, legal systems and other government processes, resident and visiting, West Coast trainers will offer their expertise through one-hour presentation and practice sessions on topics such as knowing your rights, strategizing and tactical thinking, target selection and scouting, ground games, action design, roles, and documentation, media communications, police interactions, security, safety, and self-defense,  de-escalation, and jail solidarity.  The number, topics, and lengths of training sessions have varied over the years, chosen by and adapted to rural participants and supporting various, ecological and social resistance movements within the current, U.S. political context.  Prior speakers have given advice on railroad actions, digital security, pipeline blockades, grand jury resistance, know-your-rights, and the previously mentioned topics.

Organizers holding these trainings anticipate connecting with, learning about, and strengthening the volunteer activism gaining momentum in the Idaho Panhandle.  So we encourage everyone who plans to attend to RSVP in advance, to request particular topics and further logistical information, and to contribute potluck food and trainer travel funds and housing/camping arrangements.  Join WIRT and guests anytime between 10 am and 3 pm on Saturday, September 7, at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint.  The workshop space is a large, carpeted, basement room with folding chairs and tables, couches, counters, and a kitchen, in a downtown, community center.

Rally & Paddle

10 am to 1 pm Sunday, September 8

City & Dog Beach Parks, Sandpoint

For a fifth year, WIRT and allied activists are bringing their boats, bodies, and bravery to two locations, for on- and off-shore protests of Northwest coal, oil, and tar sands trains and terminals and BNSF rail bridge and track expansion in north Idaho.  To accommodate the schedules of participants who are bringing canoes or renting single or double kayaks, paddleboards, or other manual watercraft from downtown Sandpoint businesses that open at 10 am, activists are meeting at the same time on Sunday, September 8.  Near the south boat ramp at City Beach Park in Sandpoint, we will launch music, speakers, and a flotilla on Lake Pend Oreille, departing after participants arrive by land and water, to voyage around present and proposed railroad bridge sites.  By about 12 noon on Sunday, another rally will converge after paddlers reach Dog Beach Park south of Sandpoint.  Bring large, attractive banners and signs, visible to observers at great distances from both gatherings, and respond to WIRT with your boat rental intentions and mobility needs, so we can reserve and cover the costs of watercraft, and arrange bike trailer transportation for folks who cannot walk to Dog Beach Park.

Event & #No2ndBridge Support

Can you donate toward watercraft rental fees or offer boats, gear, or supplies for this event?  Would you drive enthusiastic, Panhandle Paddle participants to Sandpoint, or help with trainer travel or media advertising expenses?  Can your group or organization endorse and/or co-sponsor this demonstration of people power?  Will you contribute your inspiring words and/or songs or sustaining snacks and beverages?  To bolster this community event, please offer assistance and materials, and to support likely, upcoming, #No2ndBridge litigation, please pitch in toward collective expenses, by mail or through the Donate to WIRT button [16].  Visit the WIRT facebook and website pages, and contact WIRT via phone, text, email, facebook, or website, with your questions and suggestions, and for further background and event information.  We eagerly anticipate sharing these experiences with you and your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers, on Friday through Sunday, September 6 to 8, in Sandpoint, grateful that regional community members are actively opposing dirty energy infrastructure and transportation expansion.  Thanks!

[1] Fifth Panhandle Paddle, August 28, 2019 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[2] This Fall, Let’s Throw Down for Climate Justice, July 11, 2019 Rising Tide North America

[3] Sandpoint and Spokane Stand with Mosier, May 29, 2017 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[4] Seventh, Area, Train Accident in Six Months! July 24, 2017 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[5] On Sunday night, August 13, 2017…, August 22, 2019 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[6] BNSF Plans Second Bridge over Idaho Chokepoint, August 27, 2014 Railway Age

[7] Plans for Second Rail Bridge across Lake Pend Oreille Put on Hold, September 16, 2015 Spokesman-Review

[8] Herb Goodwin at the Sandpoint Blessing (Lummi Totem Pole Journey 2016), August 28, 2016 New American Underground

[9] BNSF Bridges EIS or EA March! May 31, 2019 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[10] Category Archives: BNSF Bridges, Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[11] Petition to Deny and Revoke Permits for the BNSF Sandpoint Junction Connector Project, September 30, 2018 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[12] Panhandle Paddle! August 21, 2015 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[13] Totem Poles and Kayaks Against Fossil Fuels: Second Panhandle Paddle, August 22, 2016 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[14] Third Panhandle Paddle, August 19, 2017 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[15] Fourth Panhandle Paddle, September 3, 2018 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[16] Donate to WIRT, Wild Idaho Rising Tide

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1 thought on “Fifth Panhandle Paddle

  1. Pingback: Sandpoint, Idaho: Fifth Panhandle Paddle, September 6-8 – Rising Tide North America

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