Defend Paradise Ridge: Fund PRDC!
As you may have read in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Lewiston Tribune, or Spokesman-Review, the Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition (PRDC) is challenging for the fourth time in federal court the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) and now also the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), in an ongoing attempt to force selection of the central route for U.S. Highway 95 realignment south of Moscow, Idaho, rather than the eastern route higher on Paradise Ridge [1-3]. PRDC filed another legal complaint in the U.S. District Court of Idaho on Tuesday, March 22, against the Thorn Creek Road to Moscow highway project, planned by ITD to reroute and expand to four lanes a new, six-mile segment of Highway 95 .
Several years ago, ITD applied for a Clean Water Act (CWA) permit, to discharge fill material into Paradise Ridge wetlands for highway construction, and many Palouse and Northwest region residents sent comments against this project proposal. ITD realized that it could not satisfy the stringent environmental requirements of a CWA “individual” project permit, which involves public input and a comparison of the different alignments. So ITD requested and USACE granted a less rigorous, CWA “nationwide” permit for wetland impacts, intended for smaller, non-controversial projects and allowing ITD to begin ground work on its chosen, easternmost route, the E-2 alternative.
PRDC asserts that USACE incorrectly issued this CWA permit to ITD, because nationwide permits require that affected wetlands cover a half-acre or less. In its earlier environmental impact statement (EIS), ITD not only described some of these wetlands as larger than a half-acre, but also documented the E-2 route as the most environmentally damaging of the three EIS-considered routes, which all meet the highway project’s safety and transportation goals. But E-2 would inflict more significant harms on plants and wildlife of the Palouse Prairie, an ecosystem reduced by agriculture and development to less than one percent of its original extent, with remnants on Paradise Ridge. Intact wetlands are crucial to this vanishing ecosystem, especially during the worsening droughts of the current climate crisis. PRDC claims that the state agency improperly and arbitrarily reduced the documented size of several wetlands to less than a half-acre, to obtain this nationwide permit.
In three previous cases, PRDC has successfully argued that this project requires an EIS, instead of the less detailed environmental assessment prepared by ITD, and has alleged National Environmental Policy Act violations by the final EIS. To win this current lawsuit, PRDC has hired wetland experts to analyze and help dispute ITD’s changes in its wetland determinations. Along with attorney fees, this expensive phase of legal efforts, seeking an injunction against destroying essential wetlands, could cost at least $20,000. Without enough advance time to secure funding from prior grant sources, PRDC is reliant on generous contributions from concerned, regional citizens. Please send your check to the Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition at P.O. Box 8804 in Moscow, Idaho 83843, or contact PRDC via its website or facebook pages, for information on donating stocks through its brokerage account . PRDC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, public interest organization that works to ensure and enhance the public safety, environmental integrity, and natural aesthetics of Paradise Ridge and its environs. The coalition includes the member groups Palouse Broadband of the Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition, Palouse Group of the Sierra Club, Wild Idaho Rising Tide, and individual members.
Participate in Earth Day Events!
On Earth Day weekend, April 22 to 24, join Moscow, Sandpoint, and Spokane climate marches and a Moscow concert hosted by 350 Spokane, Friends of the Clearwater, KRFP Radio Free Moscow, Palouse Extinction Rebellion, Palouse Group of the Sierra Club, Spokane Falls Community College Environmental Club, and Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT). From 1:30 to 4 pm on Friday, April 22, meet at the Pavilion in Riverfront Park, 574 North Howard Street in Spokane, Washington, and bring your friends, family, signs, chalk, and optional costume, mask, prop, or float depicting an animal, plant, insect, or organism, for a Gathering of Species leading a climate march that starts at 3 pm [6-8]. After music by performers, a rally by speakers, and information sharing by a variety of organizations, participants will voice their concerns and march on numerous blocks of downtown Spokane streets, demanding urgent action in preparing for climate crises and a cleaner, greener, safer world.
From 7 pm to 1 am on Friday evening, April 22, come dressed as your favorite Earthly creature and dance at the Biodiversity Costume Ball, at the Hunga Dunga Brewing Company taproom, 333 North Jackson Street in Moscow, Idaho . The Boise funk band Lounge on Fire and the Moscow group Mother Yeti will perform at this event open to all ages, with alcohol available for revelers 21-plus years old and a recommended entrance donation of $10. Environmental organizations will provide information, and the best costumed participants will receive prizes. On the next day, Saturday, April 23, from 10 am to 1 pm, bring your signs and banners and meet at East City Park, 900 East Third Street in Moscow, to join the Earth Day climate march with the “Wild Thang” dragon, to Friendship Square at Fourth and Main streets . In this downtown park, several speakers and groups will offer political and direct action networking opportunities for community members.
After the weekly, 1 pm, Sunday vigil in support of Ukraine resistance to Russian invasion, regional climate activist collective WIRT and communities around Lake Pend Oreille are holding another Earth Day climate march commencing at 3 pm on Sunday, April 24, from the Farmin Park clock at Third and Main streets in Sandpoint, Idaho [11, attached flyer]. In solidarity with similar, Moscow and Spokane demonstrations and in support of fossil fuels frontlines across Turtle Island (North America), event organizers request that participants bring signs, banners, enthusiasm, and issue ideas and updates to share, as we gather with friends and families, to walk and protest the water, air, and climate pollution and regional risks of present and proposed, pipeline and railroad operations and infrastructure expansions.
Amid increasingly chaotic weather, floods, droughts, wildfires, “natural” disasters, and widespread harms to people everywhere, your participation in the global climate movement becomes more urgent and necessary every day. Help these local, grassroots groups celebrate the miraculous, natural Earth, protect its air, water, lands, and species essential to life, and oppose coal, oil, gas, tar sands, and forest extraction and transportation, as we together work toward the equitable, just, livable, and thriving world that we know is possible, beyond corporate and government business-as-usual. Please print and post the North Idaho Earth Day Climate March flyer, check out and circulate the linked facebook and website pages further describing these activities, and consider physically and/or fiscally contributing to all of these groups confronting the fossil fuels and deforestation causes of climate change.
Volunteer for the Moscow Renaissance Fair!
After a two-year pandemic hiatus, the annual Moscow Renaissance Fair, or “Ren Fair,” returns and runs from 10 am on April 30 until 7 pm on May 1, in East City Park, 900 East Third Street in Moscow, Idaho [12-14]. Always held on the weekend of the first May Sunday, the two-day, beloved, public celebration of Spring offers free admission, live entertainment and fine crafts by Northwest musicians and artists, delicious food by local non-profits, a parade and activities for children and adults of all ages, and a beer garden, although no other alcohol or dogs are allowed in the park during the event. The community organization Moscow Renaissance Fair is always seeking dedicated volunteers to help with site set-up on Friday, April 29, and to join the fun throughout the fair, in areas for children and other stations. A dozen inspired people attended the April 12 volunteer meeting, and more assistance is always welcome. If you are interested in learning about and signing up for a Ren Fair volunteer position, please email this year’s president, Jeanne McHale, at firstname.lastname@example.org. And invite your friends and family and participate in the 49th annual Moscow Renaissance Fair!
Enjoy Postponed WIRT Celebrations & Actions!
During two years of restful and restless isolation from COVID-19 and reactionary threats, core Wild Idaho Rising Tide activists have exhaustively focused on monitoring industry snafus, continuing broadcast outreach, and supporting grassroots campaigns opposing climate-wrecking, fossil fuels projects . Several times during this and previous pandemic years, we have postponed the dates of WIRT’s ninth, tenth, and eleventh annual celebrations in Moscow and Sandpoint, Idaho, around our March 31 anniversary. To minimize and avoid lingering contagion, we now plan to belatedly host outdoor gatherings and benefit concerts on weekend afternoons or evenings during the warmer temperatures of mid-May. Throughout spring, summer, and fall, we eagerly anticipate renewed, WIRT tabling outreach at farmers markets and protests against southwest Idaho oil and gas extraction and waste injection wells, Highway 95 invasion of native Palouse Prairie on Paradise Ridge, north Idaho oil and coal trains and bridge and track doubling in the Sandpoint area, and “restoration” timber sales in the steep mountains surrounding Lake Pend Oreille. A significant, inland Northwest, fossil fuels onslaught and its draft environmental impact statement and public input and resistance also looms this summer: Keystone XL pipeline owner TC Energy (formerly TransCanada) is planning to expand its Athol, Idaho, compressor station near Silverwood Theme Park, to dangerously increase fracked gas flow through its 60-year-old Gas Transmission Northwest line that crosses the Idaho panhandle and Pend Oreille River, Sandpoint, and eastern Washington and Oregon.
 Environmental Group Sues over Highway 95 Transportation Project, March 30, 2022 Moscow-Pullman Daily News
 Group Files Suit over U.S. 95 Project, March 30, 2022 Lewiston Tribune
 Environmental Group Sues over Highway 95 Transportation Project, March 30, 2022 Spokesman-Review
 New Legal Challenge to ITD Thorn Creek to Moscow Highway Project, March 28, 2022 Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition
 Spokane Earth Day Climate March, February 24, 2022 350 Spokane
 Spokane Earth Day Climate March, February 24, 2022 350 Spokane
 A Gathering of Species at Earth Day Climate March, March 14, 2022 Gathering of Species – Spokane
 Biodiversity Costume Ball! April 5, 2022 Friends of the Clearwater
 Earth Day Climate March! April 5, 2022 Friends of the Clearwater
 North Idaho Earth Day Climate March, April 18, 2022 Wild Idaho Rising Tide
 Moscow Renaissance Fair 2022, April 13, 2022 Moscow Renaissance Fair
 11th WIRT Anniversary! March 31, 2022 Wild Idaho Rising Tide