Fourth Panhandle Paddle


Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and allied, #No2ndBridge 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 fuel and railroad industry degraders of basic, global, human, environmental, and climate health and rights.  Interior Northwest residents are organizing and co-hosting fourth annual, Panhandle Paddle activities, to stand against Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway’s (BNSF) proposed bridge and track construction across Lake Pend Oreille, Sand Creek, and Sandpoint, and regional trains hauling volatile, Alberta tar sands, fracked, Bakken crude oil, dusty, Powder River Basin coal, and other hazardous materials that recklessly endanger our lives, communities, lands, water, air, and climate.  This fossil fuel infrastructure use, expansion, and deterioration has resulted in multiple, recent, train derailments and collisions in north Idaho, northwest Montana, and beyond, including disastrous, coal and oil train wrecks, spills, fires, and pollution of the Clark Fork River near Heron, Montana, and the Columbia River Gorge in Mosier, Oregon.  Please join us at these annual, Panhandle Paddle events at the Gardenia Center, City Beach Park, and Dog Beach Park in Sandpoint, Idaho, on September 7 to 9! Continue reading

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Kalispel Canoe Journey, Sandpoint Festival Spotlight, #No2ndBridge Appeal Participation

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Second Annual Remember the Water Canoe Journey

The River Warrior Society, Kalispel tribal members, and regional canoe families are hosting the Remember the Water canoe journey again this summer, paddling traditional, wooden canoes 71 miles on Pend Oreille Lake and River, from the Hope peninsula, Idaho, to the Kalispel village north of Usk, Washington [1-3].  Tentatively meeting on Tuesday, July 31, at Sam Owen Campground near Hope, participants will discuss water, wind, and wave temperature and speed and other conditions on the lake.  The journey will put-in at Denton Slough on Wednesday, August 1, after prayers and smudging the canoes at 8 am.  Approximately nine miles into their first, 20-mile day, paddlers will stop for a lunch break at Trestle Creek.

The journey plans to land at City Beach Park in Sandpoint at 3 pm or later on Wednesday afternoon, August 1, although its timing is difficult, having never previously covered this stretch of Lake Pend Oreille.  The canoeists welcome everyone and groups like Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper and Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) to greet their arrival and take-out, among possible song and prayer.  Please join us for this significant event, and for canoe smudging, prayers, send-off, and re-launch from the City Beach boat ramps, at 8 am on Thursday, August 2.

Indigenous and accompanying paddlers will continue downriver 21 miles, from Sandpoint to the next, Thursday night layover on Kalispel tribal lands, at the Carey Creek Game Management Area off Dufort Road, near Priest River, Idaho.  The voyage has also scheduled a Friday, August 3, lunch break in the Newport, Washington area, next to the Rotary Park boat launch by the river bridge, in Oldtown, Idaho.  The 17-mile, Friday paddle concludes at Downs Island, just upriver of Indian Island, near the Sandy Shores boat launch.

On Saturday, August 4, after breakfast, canoe smudges, and prayer at 8 am, the canoe journey will travel 14 miles from Downs Island, breaking at the Usk boat launch under the bridge, and reaching the Kalispel village boat launch and yearly Kalispel Tribe Pow Wow.  The destination offers buffalo burgers, camping, and Wellness Center showers.

WIRT activists are grateful for the Remember the Water canoe journey, as we resist reckless railroad coal pollution, potential oil spills, and proposed bridge construction in the life-giving waters of Lake Pend Oreille.  Please contact River Warrior Society organizer Nathan Piengkham at npiengkham@kalispeltribe.com, for finalized event itineraries.

Spotlight Messaging at the Festival at Sandpoint

As the sun sets over Sandpoint, Idaho, between 8 and 9 pm on Friday, August 3, Occupy comrades from Spokane, Washington, will graciously offer a brief, light projection display of social and climate justice messages on tall structures around the Festival at Sandpoint.  Meet in or near Lakeview Park, wherever you see this light show, for discussions among curious passersby, about #No2ndBridge and Northwest coal and oil train and terminal issues.

#No2ndBridge State Permit Appeal Participation

Unwilling to miss the Friday, July 20, deadline for challenging a state permit, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) filed pro se (without attorney representation) a notice of appeal in Idaho’s First District Court, of the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) encroachment permit granted to Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) for its proposed rail bridge and track expansion across Lake Pend Oreille and Sandpoint, the “Sandpoint Junction Connector” project [4-9].

The 12-page appeal calls for a judicial review of the permit’s issuance and public record, considering the Lake Protection Act and other state and federal laws.  It argues that the project jeopardizes water resources, air quality, wildlife habitat, indigenous rights, health and safety, navigation, tourism, and recreation, and would increase noise, pollution, and potential accidents and derailments of fossil fuels and hazardous materials trains.  The petition also states that the project would increase chemical pollution of Idaho’s largest, deepest lake, the drinking water source for over 10,000 people in the Sandpoint and north Idaho area. Continue reading

Activists Appeal State Permit for Lake Railroad Expansion

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On July 20, 2018, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) filed a notice of appeal of the preliminary and final orders approving Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway’s (BNSF) application for an encroachment permit for its proposed Sandpoint Junction Connector Project.  David Groeschl, acting director of the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) in Boise, granted the five-year encroachment permit on June 21, 2018.  BNSF plans to construct 2.2 miles of doubled tracks, two temporary, work spans, and three permanent, parallel bridges adjacent to the existing rail route across Lake Pend Oreille, Sand Creek, Bridge Street, and downtown Sandpoint, Idaho.

As aggrieved parties who spoke at two public, administrative hearings held before hearing officer/coordinator Chris Bromley for the Idaho Board of Land Commissioners, on May 23, 2018, in Ponderay and Sandpoint, Idaho, WIRT activists filed the 11-page appeal in the First Judicial District Court of Idaho in Bonner County.  Prompted by the legal notification concluding the final order, the climate activist collective requested rigorous reviews and analyses by the district court “of the entire record, proceedings, findings of fact, conclusions of law, preliminary order, and final order of this application, [hearing] case, and permit,” including approximately 1,100 written comments and dozens of oral testimonies.  WIRT invites other hearing participants harmed by this permit decision to join the appeal, as “plaintiffs, testifiers, witnesses, and amicus partners” calling for “appropriate revision, denial, and/or revocation of the negligent and culpable, BNSF Sandpoint Junction Connector Project application and permit.”

The appeal challenges several errors of the final order, most notably its failures to uphold the state Lake Protection Act and Rules for the Regulation of Beds, Waters, and Airspace over Navigable Lakes.  Both mandate regulators to “give due consideration and weigh…the protection of property, navigation, fish and wildlife habitat, aquatic life, recreation, aesthetic beauty, and water quality” against the economic necessity, justification, or benefit derived from any proposed encroachment on, in, or above navigable lake beds or waters.  Although “public health, interest, safety, and welfare require” this balance, WIRT activists argue that Idaho officials inadequately examined and compared these “lake values” with project outcomes, discussing environmental concerns offered by individuals and agencies in only two of 42 pages of their permit decision.

The plaintiffs question the legality of sidestepping these stricter state regulations, in deference to an antiquated, U.S., railroad land grant law and hundreds of pro-project, BNSF, form letters from out-of-state commenters.  The 1864 act gives railroad companies unusual power to retain exclusive possession and “complete dominion” over their 400-foot-wide, privately owned route “adjacent to and crossing Lake Pend Oreille,” since before 1890 statehood.  IDL director Groeschl asserts that his final order must only “recognize BNSF’s right to utilize the right-of-way for construction of a railroad bridge and associated fill,” thus dismissing his obligations to the environmental and economic wellbeing and public trust of the Idaho Panhandle community, in preference for the railroad pursuit of profit.

In their lawsuit, WIRT activists also cite examples of BNSF application errors and admitted project impacts to an endangered species and other public interests.  Accordingly, they dispute BNSF encroachment permit approval prior to any application modifications or amendments required by IDL, and before the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (IDEQ) issues, waives, or denies Clean Water Act-mandated, final, water quality certification and associated restrictions on BNSF plans.  The appeal filers ask the Bonner County District Court “to defer to pending, state and federal, public participation processes and agency decisions resulting from environmental reviews, assessments, and/or impact statements and studies of this project that still requires…dredge, fill, and wetland impact approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and bridge permits from the lead, federal agency, the U.S. Coast Guard.” Continue reading

Stop Oil Trains in Idaho: July 5-7, 2018 Actions


Region-wide events mark the five-year Lac-Mégantic disaster anniversary

North Idaho and eastern Washington activists invite everyone to participate in five Stop Oil Trains in Idaho events on July 5, 6, and 7, commemorating the 47 lives lost to a Bakken crude oil train derailment, spill, explosion, and fire in downtown Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, on Saturday night, July 6, 2013.  During the five years since this tragedy, dozens of similar accidents have wrecked public and environmental health and safety and the global climate – more than in the previous four decades – including the Union Pacific oil train disaster in the Columbia River Gorge town of Mosier, Oregon, on June 3, 2016.  In response, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), 350Seattle, Occupy, Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition, and allied Moscow, Sandpoint, and Spokane partner groups have participated with thousands of people around North America in Stop Oil Trains actions [1-4].

Through multiple training, protest, and outreach events, concerned citizens continue to actively oppose and call for an end to all Alberta tar sands and Bakken shale oil exploitation and train and pipeline transportation, refusing to let Big Oil threaten and risk our families, friends, homes, businesses, lands, waters, and air.  Together with environmental and social justice activists across the U.S. and Canada, we are organizing various tactics and resources to stage powerful, effective actions defending and protecting frontline, rail corridor communities and the global climate.

Please join these demonstrations and/or host or attend an event in your vicinity around July 6, to stand in solidarity with Lac-Mégantic and other towns and cities demanding an immediate ban on the railroad industry’s extreme energy pipeline-on-wheels.  Thanks to everyone who has provided invaluable, relevant ideas, connections, and on-the-ground support for these events.  We welcome your questions, suggestions, assistance, and refreshments at these upcoming actions: Please reply through the enclosed contact channels or on-site.  Expect ongoing descriptions of Northwest train and terminal issue background and recent updates, via WIRT facebook and website pages. Continue reading

May 23 #No2ndBridge Hearings & Rally


For decades, the Sandpoint to Spokane, railroad “funnel” community, who cherishes and relies on the clean water, air, and lands of beautiful Lake Pend Oreille and north Idaho for our shared economy and life ways, has endured the ongoing dangers and pollution of Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway.  The company hauls 95 percent of the volatile, fracked, Bakken crude oil, all of the heavy metal-laden, Powder River Basin coal, and many other toxic substances through the region, via its Northwest pipeline-on-wheels.  It spews coal dust and diesel emissions, risks and degrades the health and safety of resident and visiting people and wildlife with pollution, noise, hazardous materials transport, derailments, and accidents, including three wrecked, coal and corn trains within 33 miles of Sandpoint, between March and August 2017, and dozens of injuries and deaths of pedestrians, family pets, and vehicle drivers and passengers over the last 20 years.  Meanwhile, BNSF coerces local, state, and national citizens, elected officials, and emergency and regulatory agencies to accept and promote these escalating abuses of discounted, rural and urban, rail-line communities, advocating the consumer complicity and corporate conquests that drive gratuitous, unjust, global capitalism, basic human rights violations, and climate change.

While BNSF questionably boasts about its local jobs and monetary incentives, interstate commerce rules ensure that Idaho receives no state taxes from transiting trains.  Compared to the origins and destinations of rail freight, remote north Idaho gains much less railroad revenue and employment, and supports fewer state track inspectors and emergency response personnel and equipment.  But like all greedy industrialists, BNSF now wants even more plunder for profit, in spite of the price already paid by people and the planet for its perpetually reinforcing, increasingly destructive expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure and invasion of our natural habitat.  BNSF is planning to double two miles of tracks through Sandpoint, in close proximity to small, downtown businesses and the historic railroad station still used by Amtrak, and build two temporary, construction spans and three permanent, parallel bridges across the Bridge Street access to popular City Beach Park, over the Sand Creek outlet for stream flow, boat launches, and marinas to Lake Pend Oreille, and almost a mile and 1000 piles across Idaho’s largest lake, the fifth deepest in the United States.

Apparently attempting to avoid, minimize, and expedite required, state and federal permitting and public notice and participation processes for this $100 million-plus, three- to five-year construction project, BNSF nominally postponed its Sandpoint Junction Connector project for three years, then visibly staged equipment and drilled and tested two piles for their bridge load bearing capacity and “done deal” public perception, at Dog Beach Park south of Sandpoint during summer 2017.  Beyond its 250-page, joint permit application, full of engineering diagrams and lingo and inadequate, biological assessments, BNSF has yet to provide any unbiased, independent studies or reports describing and thoroughly analyzing not only the purported, public benefits of increased railroad infrastructure and traffic but also their potential, significant, adverse impacts on environmental quality, endangered species, regional safety, emergency response, vehicle traffic flow, noise and pollution levels, recreational experiences, tourism businesses, economic opportunities, and critical, lake and aquifer water resources.

Please join Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and #No2ndBridge allies in halting BNSF’s track and bridge expansion proposal: We need everyone on this frontline!  Bring your best ideas, energies, comrades, and protest signs to a community resistance rally, with speakers and drummers at 5 pm on Wednesday, May 23, at the intersection of South Division Avenue and U.S. Highway 2 in Sandpoint.  Attend and testify at one or both Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) hearings on the same day, at 8 am PDT in Suite E of the Ponderay Events Center, 401 Bonner Mall Way in Ponderay, and at 6 pm PDT in the Sandpoint Middle School gymnasium, 310 South Division Avenue in Sandpoint.  Reasonably demand that IDL and the U.S. Coast Guard (USGC), who will also take public comments at these state meetings, respectively deny permits for lakebed encroachments, like temporary and permanent bridge piles, and for bridges across Sand Creek and Lake Pend Oreille. Continue reading

May 2 PRDC & WIRT Moscow Meetings, #No2ndBridge Updates


PRDC Annual Membership Meeting

The Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition (PRDC) invites its supporters and members of PRDC affiliated, environmental groups (Palouse Broadband of the Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition, Palouse Group of the Sierra Club, and Wild Idaho Rising Tide) to attend the PRDC Annual Membership Meeting on Wednesday, May 2, at the Yellow House next to the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse, 420 East Second Street (near the 1912 Center and Van Buren Street) in Moscow, Idaho.  Please come to this casual event anytime between 5 and 7 pm, to talk with PRDC board members Cass Davis, Steve Flint, David Hall, Al Poplawsky, Pat Rathmann, Mary and Steve Ullrich, and Helen Yost, ask questions, vote for board candidates, enjoy hors d’oeuvres and drinks, and pay $5 annual dues.  If you cannot participate, please send donations and dues to this 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, via mail to P.O. Box 8804, Moscow, ID  83843, to assist its lawsuit efforts to protect native Palouse prairie remnants from U.S. Highway 95 expansion onto Paradise Ridge, and to “ensure and enhance the public safety, environmental integrity, and natural aesthetics of Paradise Ridge and its environs” (PRDC mission statement).

Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition website, Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition

Moscow WIRT Meeting & #No2ndBridge Presentation

Invite your friends and families, and join the regional, climate activist community, #No2ndBridge group members, and WIRT organizers for the May, first-Wednesday, monthly, WIRT gathering at The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street in Moscow, Idaho, at 7 pm on Wednesday, May 2.  Discussions and action plans include Farmers Market outreach in Moscow and Sandpoint, an oil and gas waste injection well protest and petition presentation in Boise, and ongoing, dirty energy transportation monitoring and reporting.  We especially need your participation in work on a #No2ndBridge petition, brochures, banners, a peaceful, public, Sandpoint protest, regional attendance and expert testimony at May 23 hearings and rallies with speakers in Ponderay and Sandpoint, and a summer, direct action training camp, all opposing Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway track and bridge expansion of the coal, oil, hazmat, and possibly tar sands pipeline-on-wheels across Lake Pend Oreille and north Idaho.

At this WIRT convergence, we are starting to present #No2ndBridge information sessions with slide shows in Moscow, Sandpoint, Missoula, Spokane, and other, inland Northwest locations.  All are welcome to bring their creative ideas and energies and potluck food and beverages, to share current, issue updates and background, and to explore strategies and tactics in support and solidarity with grassroots, Northwest resistance to the power and pollution of the fossil fuel and railroad industries.  Contact WIRT via email or phone, with your questions and suggestions about potential meeting topics and activities, and to coordinate overlapping campaigns and upcoming events among allies.

#No2ndBridge Updates

On February 26, 2018, the public received notices of Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s joint application for “individual” (not more lenient, “general”) permits to double 2.2 miles of tracks west of its existing, main line through Sandpoint, Idaho, and to construct three permanent, parallel, rail bridges and two temporary, work spans across Bridge Street, Sand Creek, and almost a mile over Lake Pend Oreille.  This $100 million, five-year, “Sandpoint Junction Connector” project would begin in fall 2018 and degrade human and natural environments from the BNSF-Montana Rail Link track convergence, near the historic, Sandpoint, train station still utilized by Amtrak, to the North Algoma siding track across the lake, south of Sandpoint. Continue reading

March 21: Sandpoint WIRT Meeting & Screening


Invite your friends and families, and join Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), the #No2ndBridge group, and the regional, climate activist community at 7 pm on Wednesday, March 21, at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint, Idaho, for conversations about strategies and tactics opposing Northwest, fossil fuel extraction and transportation.  Among potluck food, beverages, and ideas, we will share current, issue updates and background on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway proposal to expand rail bridges and tracks across Lake Pend Oreille and downtown Sandpoint, and associated, state and federal, public comment periods, hearings, and other participation processes [1, 2].  Besides the March 30 and 31, Seventh Annual Celebration of WIRT benefit concerts in Moscow and Sandpoint, we are planning #No2ndBridge, public information sessions, targeted protests, and a summer, direct action camp, to further catalyze resistance to ongoing train derailments and fossil fuel pollution of essential watersheds and the shared, global climate.  See the January through March, Moscow and Sandpoint, meeting alerts on the WIRT website, for other, possible topics of discussion, and contact WIRT via email or phone, with your questions and suggestions.

For this third-Wednesday monthly, March 2018 gathering, we will screen Momenta, a 42-minute documentary released in Bellingham in June 2014, which describes the first years of the Northwest movement dedicated to “educating, raising awareness, and activating communities to stop all proposed coal exports,…rethink fossil fuels [and] their impacts on climate and environment, and accelerate the clean energy revolution” [3].  We will also present the trailer for the upcoming documentary Choke Point, the story of the “Inland Northwest’s fight against exploding oil trains and fossil fuels,” produced by grassroots, Spokane videographers Rosie Ennis and Joe Comine of Dancing Crow Media, who need your donations for their ongoing work [4].  Choke Point “is about trains transporting coal and highly combustible crude from the Bakken oil fields, through the area between Sandpoint, Idaho, and Cheney, Washington, known as the ‘choke point.’  These trains travel over our aquifer and water resources, across unstable infrastructure, and through the heart of our home,…[and] tend to blow up when there’s a derailment or due to equipment failure.”  The completed film could include excerpts, which we will show, of talks by Spokane City Council president Ben Stuckart, Sightline Institute policy director Eric de Place, Spokane tribal activist Twa-le Abrahamson, and Railroad Workers United organizer Jen Wallis, recorded at the June 2015 Coal Exports, Oil Transport, and Solutions Forum, held at Gonzaga University in Spokane. Continue reading

Lake Bridge Comment Period, Moscow WIRT Meeting & Film, Seventh WIRT Celebration


February 26: BNSF Lake Bridge Permit Application Release

On Monday, February 26, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) released for mere, 30-day, public review Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway’s (BNSF) joint application to construct a “2.2-mile-long, second, mainline track west of the existing, BNSF mainline, to connect the North Algoma Siding track (MP 5.1) south of Sandpoint, to the Sandpoint Junction switch (MP 2.9), where the BNSF and the Montana Rail Link (MRL) mainlines converge in Sandpoint…[The] applicant proposes to start construction in the fall of 2018.  The permit would authorize construction for a period of five years,” including rail bridges over Sand Creek and almost one mile over Lake Pend Oreille [1].

The City of Sandpoint, bigger green, organizational partners, coal/oil train/terminal opposition network, local, #No2ndBridge group, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), and allied activists are coordinating responses and will send comment suggestions soon, continuing frontline, second BNSF lake bridge vigilance and resistance commenced in August 2014.  “The second rail bridge is likely to be a contentious proposal within Sandpoint.  BNSF officials say the second bridge will help alleviate wait times caused by rail traffic in town.  However, with train traffic estimated to double in the area by 2035, Sandpoint officials and conservation activists worry the convenience carries a higher risk of a disastrous accident.” [2]  “The bridge proposal has drawn the opposition of Wild Idaho Rising Tide, which contends the span will ultimately exacerbate climate change, because it will facilitate the trade of domestic coal and oil products.” [3]  Although the “Port of Vancouver and Vancouver Energy, which wanted to build the nation’s largest rail-to-marine, oil terminal at the port, mutually agreed to end the company’s lease on Wednesday, [February 28,] a month early,” “an estimated 58 trains use the BNSF rail line per day.  It’s expected by 2035, that number will increase to 114 trains daily, according to a [Spokane] city report.” [4, 5]

Before sending your more thorough, written comments addressing the application for and myriad impacts of this expansion of the Northwest pipeline-on-wheels over the fifth deepest U.S. lake, please demand from the Army Corps and IDL a comment period extension of 90 days, public hearings, and a full environmental impact statement.  Alongside diverse, citizen stakeholders, many indigenous, federal, and state agencies involved in or affected by this decision (U.S Army Corps of Engineers, Coast Guard, and Fish and Wildlife Service, Idaho departments of Environmental Quality, Historic Preservation, Lands, and Water Resources, and the Coeur d’Alene, Kalispel, Kootenai, Salish, and Spokane tribes) require additional opportunities, time, and documentation to responsibly share information and analyze this largest construction project in decades on and near Lake Pend Oreille and the hundreds of pages of the BNSF application [6].

The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact, including cumulative impacts, of the proposed activity on the public interest.  This decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources…Comments are used in the preparation of an environmental assessment [the current, inadequate, Army Corps choice] and/or an environmental impact statement, pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act.  Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing, and to determine the overall public interest in the proposed activity.

…Any person may request in writing, within the comment period specified in this notice, that a public hearing is held to consider this proposed activity.  Requests for a public hearing shall state specific reasons for holding a public hearing.  A request may be denied if substantive reasons for holding a hearing are not provided or if there is otherwise no valid interest to be served.

…Interested parties are invited to provide comments on the proposed activity, which will become a part of the record and will be considered in the final decision.  Please mail all comments to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Walla Walla District, Attn: Shane Slate, Coeur d’Alene Regulatory Office, 1910 Northwest Boulevard, Suite 210, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho 83814-2676, or email NWW_BNSF_Pendoreille@usace.army.mil.  Comments should be received no later than the comment due date of March 28, 2018, as indicated on this notice, to receive consideration. [1]

Issuing a separate, public notice, the Idaho Department of Lands is also holding a public comment period on the proposed project and associated materials, ending on March 30, 2018 [7].  Send your message encouraging BNSF permit denial to comments@idl.idaho.gov or through the IDL website.  Citizens can also share their concerns with the U.S Coast Guard, charged with issuing or denying permits for bridges and causeways in or over navigable waters of the United States, and overseeing compliance with National Historic Preservation Act and Endangered Species Act consultation, for the proposed bridge projects over Sand Creek and Lake Pend Oreille.  But the Army Corps and Coast Guard cannot grant permits until the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (IDEQ) evaluates whether to issue, waive, or deny Clean Water Act water quality certification for discharge of project dredge and fill material, within 60 days or, by IDEQ-requested extension, longer.  Please see the Army Corps public notice about this project, for pertinent agency contact information [1].

Besides contributing written comments, and hopefully oral testimony, toward the lopsided and thus oppressive, power dynamics of these “public participation processes,” WIRT and regional allies are planning public information sessions, targeted protests, and a summer, #No2ndBridge, direct action camp, to catalyze further resistance to this industrial invasion of crucial, home waters and wetlands. Continue reading

Second Rail Bridge Application, WIRT & Smelter Resisters Meeting & March


2/13 Second Lake Rail Bridge Application

At the Idaho Conservation League (ICL) After Hours convergence in Sandpoint on February 13, ICL conservation associate Matt Nykiel revealed that Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway has applied to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, for an individual (not a more lenient, general) permit to construct a second, parallel, 4800-foot, rail bridge over Lake Pend Oreille in north Idaho [1].  The public comment period on this federal, BNSF application could open any day and last 30 to 90 days.  BNSF must also first receive a permit from the notoriously oil and gas industry-friendly Idaho Department of Lands, before the Army Corps can approve the project.  North Idaho activists and residents are calling on the Northwest community to halt this expansion of the longest water crossing and most bottlenecked section of the Northwest, coal and oil pipeline-on-wheels.

In the wake of four significant, northern Idaho and western Montana, train derailments during 2017, and Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s January 29 rejection of the proposed, Tesoro Savage, oil train terminal at the Port of Vancouver, on the day after WIRT hosted the Idaho to Inslee: No Vancouver Oil Terminal! rally in Sandpoint, and BNSF ran four oil trains through north Idaho in eight hours, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) continues to monitor and document full, westbound, coal and oil unit trains through the downtown Sandpoint frontline, the present, single-track, lake bridge, and the second bridge, pile load-testing site at Dog Beach Park, southeast of Sandpoint.

2/21 WIRT & Smelter Resisters Meeting

Please join the regional, climate activist community and #No2ndBridge group members at 7 pm on Wednesday, February 21, at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint, for ongoing discussions and actions opposing Northwest, fossil fuel megaloads, trains, terminals, derailments, rail and lake bridge double-tracking, drilling, and waste injection wells, HiTestSand’s silicon smelter proposed for Newport, Washington, and exploratory, silicon drilling near Lakeview, Idaho.  For WIRT’s third-Wednesday monthly, Sandpoint gathering, we have reserved a larger venue than the usual, Eichardt’s Pub, upstairs room, to foster interest and participation in these issues and to host organizers of several groups of Old Town, Idaho, and Newport residents, including Citizens Against the Newport Silicon Smelter (CANSS), presenting an information session about smelter resistance, and linking our various, overlapping campaigns.

Invite your friends and families for an evening of conversations sharing knowledge, exploring connections, and creating strategies and tactics in support and solidarity with the movement against extreme fossil fuels and for clean energy and livable communities.  Welcoming your ideas and input, we offer potluck food and beverages and current, issue updates and background at this meeting.  See the January and February, Sandpoint meeting alerts for other possible topics of discussion (dirty energy protesting, monitoring, and reporting and direct action training, mobilizing, and fundraising), and contact WIRT via email or phone, with your questions and suggestions [2, 3].

2/24 Newport Anti-Smelter March

CANSS and allies are coordinating and co-hosting a peaceful, public protest of HiTestSand’s proposed, Newport, silicon smelter [4].  Staging at Stratton Elementary School, 1201 West Fifth Street in Newport, at 10 am on Saturday, February 24, they welcome the participation of fellow citizens, WIRT activists, and the regional media, in the march that will proceed on U.S. Highway 2 sidewalks into Newport, down Washington Avenue to Union Street, and back to Highway 2.  Wear comfortable shoes and warm clothing, bring anti-smelter signs, and demonstrate your smelter resistance for city, county, state, and company officials.  See the accompanying link to the CANSS March through Newport event announcement on facebook, and/or attend the February 21, WIRT meeting, where smelter objectors provide further information and material describing this event [4].

Expand your involvement in activism confronting the root causes of climate change with local, grassroots, and indigenous partners, by sharing this alert (also posted on the WIRT website and facebook pages) and participating in these ongoing, networking opportunities to enhance continent-wide work to stop fossil fuel infrastructure, extraction, and transportation.  Thanks! Continue reading