BNSF Bridges EIS or EA March!

Thanks to each of you for your diligent, ongoing, resistance work on the north Idaho, Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway bridge expansion issue!  Since Wild Idaho Rising Tide’s (WIRT) #No2ndBridge Protest #3 and the extended, U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), draft environmental assessment (EA) comment deadline on May 1, WIRT board members, activists, and allied groups have been scheming a Sandpoint area march on an unknown but rapid-response date [*].  The march will either celebrate the still undetermined, Coast Guard decision to recommend a full environmental impact statement (EIS) studying the implications of BNSF’s proposed railroad bridges across Lake Pend Oreille, Sand Creek, and Sandpoint, or protest USCG issuance of a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) and less scientifically rigorous, final EA.

Because the involved Sandpoint, Spokane, Moscow, and Missoula organizations are so proficient at together rallying successful, similar, regional marches and public hearings, we are asking for your and their assistance in co-planning, publicizing, and staging this event.  Please share your ideas about this opportunity (best locations, activities, speakers, days and times of the week, etc.), notify your contacts about this upcoming march via phone, email, texts, and facebook messages, and especially RSVP your intentions to participate in this critical demonstration, by responding to this email note or the facebook event [*].  We need your preparation help with inviting and bringing at least 75 to 100 people to this Sandpoint area, family-friendly march and regionally coordinated solidarity actions.  Please circulate the BNSF Bridges EIS or EA March Flyer, check the WIRT facebook and website pages for updates, and expect a flash-action alert with further event information, within days of a Coast Guard decision during the next few weeks or months.

Please consider contributing physically and/or fiscally to WIRT campaigns confronting the fossil fuel sources of climate change, at our mailing addresses or online at Donate to WIRT.  Thanks!

[*] BNSF Bridges EIS or EA March!

June Meetings, Trainings, & Marches!

Unknown Date: BNSF Bridges EIS or EA March! (excerpted elsewhere)

Sunday, June 2: Extinction Rebellion Meeting, Moscow

An emerging chapter of Extinction Rebellion is organizing in the Moscow-Pullman area, as part of the international, apolitical network engaging non-violent, direct action to persuade governments to act on current climate and ecological emergencies [1].  Gather for the first meeting between 5 and 6 pm on Sunday, June 2, at The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street in Moscow.

Sunday, June 2: Know Your Rights Training, Moscow

The Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC) of Eugene, Oregon, is hosting a know-your-rights training called Empowering People to Organize for the Climate and Community [2].  While traveling to Montana for a workshops tour, Lauren Regan, the founder, executive director, and senior staff attorney of CLDC, is offering a special training for north Idaho climate defenders.  With 22 years of experience as an activist defense lawyer, representing ShellNo and Break Free Northwest blockaders, many Standing Rock water protectors, and all of the tar sands pipeline valve turners, Lauren also serves as the legal coordinator for the Protect the Protest coalition against SLAPPs (strategic lawsuits against public participation, usually filed by corporations to stymie activist opposition).  Please spread this event news, share the CLDC Know Your Rights Training Flyer, and join Lauren, Extinction Rebellion, and WIRT from 6 to 8:30 pm on Sunday, June 2, in the 1912 Center Fiske Room at 412 East Third Street in Moscow.

Wednesdays, June 5 & 19: WIRT Monthly Meetings, Moscow & Sandpoint Continue reading

#No2ndBridge Protest #3 & Extended Comments

#No2ndBridge Protest #3

At the third of many likely demonstrations, please join Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and indigenous and climate activists for regional resistance to Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway expansion of its fossil fuels and hazardous materials pipelines-on-rails tracks and two temporary and three permanent bridges across the recreation, tourism, and vacation destination town of Sandpoint, Idaho,  through the downtown marinas, hotels, restaurants, and shops along Sand Creek, and almost one mile over Idaho’s largest, deepest, forested mountain lake, Pend Oreille, home waters of the Kalispel and inland Northwest tribes and the critical habitat of threatened bull trout.  Bring protest signs, banners, voices, and snacks to share, along with the inspiration of speakers, drums, and prayers among fellow, water protectors and concerned, community members, at this frontline, Dog Beach Park rally southeast of Sandpoint, at 1 pm on Sunday, April 28.

#No2ndBridge Extended Comments

Perhaps due to the procedural mistakes of the lead, federal agency overseeing BNSF bridge permits and project analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), over 2,300 written and spoken comments opposing the project and demanding better environmental review, and WIRT and allied requests to extend the comment period to 90 days, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) re-opened for another 30 days (77 total days), until 9 pm on Wednesday, May 1, your potentially last chance to comment on BNSF’s insufficient, draft environmental assessment (EA) of benefits and harms resulting from BNSF’s Sandpoint Junction Connector project [1].  Although NEPA guidelines suggest preparation of concise EAs with no more than 10 to 15 pages, the length alone of the current, BNSF/Jacobs Engineering/U.S. Coast Guard, draft EA, with 116 pages and 12 appendices, indicates that an environmental impact statement (EIS) is needed for such a complex, flawed proposal with significant, but difficult to determine, environmental effects [2, 3].

For further information and comment suggestion resources to assist your letter, see the enclosed links and continually updated posts on the WIRT facebook and website pages [4-6].  Please search for USCG-2018-1085 at the federal, e-rulemaking portal (, and review your project issue(s) of concern among the draft EA documents.  With your individually unique comments addressing draft EA deficiencies and offering counter-facts, provide personal reasons and affiliations for your project-affected interests and your specific, substantive objections to BNSF project-inflicted harms.  Through the “Comment Now” button, respectfully ask the Coast Guard for:

1) A draft EA comment period extension to 120 days, to better engage seasonal and summer residents and diverse stakeholders,

2) Public, draft EA, and EIS scoping hearings, involving all pertinent agencies, organizations, and citizens, held in the most impacted city, Sandpoint,

3) Core samples and analysis of pollution in the lake bed, railroad right-of-way/easement,

4) Broader considerations of alternative, bridge and location designs and options, especially a rail route off the lake,

5) A more scientifically rigorous, unbiased, independent (not BNSF-contracted), full environmental impact study and statement that comprehensively evaluate the significant, direct, indirect, and cumulative project impacts, and

6) Inclusion of your remarks and accompanying material, supporting an EIS, not a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) and final EA, in the public record and final decisions for docket USCG-2018-1085.

Besides writing and posting your comments to USCG at, also send them to the following agency officials of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (regulating dredge and fill discharges and wetland impacts through a pending permit), the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (overseeing project water quality impacts with a Clean Water Act section 401 certification issued on September 21, 2018), and the Idaho Department of Lands (rubberstamping lake bed and water impacts with an encroachment permit granted on June 21, 2018, and challenged by WIRT, but dismissed on statutory standing grounds by Idaho district courts).

If you and your friends and family cannot find time to write to the Coast Guard and other agencies, we encourage you to sign with your comments WIRT’s Petition to Deny and Revoke Permits for the BNSF Sandpoint Junction Connector Project, which lists significant impacts of railroad bridge construction and operation on multiple, pertinent factors [7].  We will send petition signatures and remarks posted by midnight on April 30 to the Coast Guard et al.

#No2ndBridge Background & Context Continue reading

#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 (, 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:, 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

Railroad Bridges Hearings, Comments, & Updates

On Friday, February 8, news spread of the U.S. Coast Guard release of a draft environmental assessment (EA), not a more scientifically-rigorous, community-preferred, Sandpoint City Council-requested, draft environmental impact statement (EIS) with route and design alternatives, on Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s proposed construction of second (in order to replace the first) railroad bridges across Sand Creek and almost one mile over Lake Pend Oreille, in Sandpoint and Bonner County, Idaho [1-3]. On the same day, district judge John Judge heard oral arguments by phone, on BNSF and state of Idaho motions to dismiss Wild Idaho Rising Tide’s (WIRT) seven-month, #No2ndBridge lawsuit, on standing, jurisdictional, and procedural issues, not the strong, meritorious arguments of our petition for judicial review of an Idaho Department of Lands (IDL)/Idaho State Board of Land Commissioners encroachment permit for BNSF’s bridge expansion [4].  The judge did not immediately rule on these complex, dispositive and other motions, responses, replies, and objections, but has been deliberating and writing his difficult, landmark decision on Lake Protection Act and Idaho standing laws, during recent and coming weeks.  As activists cautiously participating in public processes, we remain hopeful, and acquired greater respect for judge John Judge at the hearing attended by two WIRT board members.

Like the north Idaho community, WIRT activists have since been devastated by intense, sub-zero, northeast winds gusting to 50 mph and spewing railroaded coal into the lake and neighborhood tree falls during the February 8-10 weekend, deep, engulfing snows throughout the following week, and a nearby, downtown Sandpoint fire on Monday morning, February 11 [5]. Despite firefighters from several regional districts working amid snowfall, 11-degree temperatures, and aerial hose spray that coated them with ice, the fire inflicted smoke and water damages on a church and destroyed and displaced six local, small businesses (three restaurants, a pub, a salon, and a tattoo/piercing shop) in a couple of century-old buildings, at the corner of Bridge Street and First Avenue in Sandpoint’s historic district.

These Sandpoint City Beach area businesses and surrounding residences most directly, significantly impacted by BNSF’s corporate, infrastructure expansion scheme continue to suffer fire losses and/or travel restrictions since the incident at the site of one of WIRT’s most recent direct actions during the Fourth Panhandle Paddle, when Occupy Spokane and WIRT activists spotlighted #No2ndBridge, anti-fossil fuels, and other environmental, climate, and social justice messages outside China Kitchen on September 8, 2018 [6]. Sandpoint police and Idaho fire marshals are investigating the cause and origin location of the fire, and a city-hired engineer condemned both stability-compromised structures, due to fire damages estimated at $4 to $7 million.  The Sandpoint, fossil fuels frontline also lost an indigenous art store and Italian restaurant to city building condemnation last September.

Frustrated with lawsuit financial and communication oppression and limited community responses to ongoing, WIRT pleas for support of litigation expenses, we are sending this recently rare, action alert to our thousand regional contacts, about these and other situations requiring public input, drawn from WIRT’s primary modes of outreach communication, our weekly, Climate Justice Forum radio program and numerous facebook posts over the last few months.  In forthcoming newsletters, we plan to further provide court case updates and requests for your contributions toward our legal battles, and to announce #No2ndBridge presentations on March 5, 6, 8, and 9, respectively in Missoula, Moscow, Sandpoint, and Spokane.

Coast Guard Draft EA Release

As the lead, federal agency regulating proposed, BNSF infrastructure expansion via three new, permanent, rail bridges and two temporary, construction spans in the Sandpoint area, the Seattle-based, U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), District 13 office is accepting public input on the February 6, 2019, draft environmental assessment (EA) for the project, written by BNSF and contracted, Jacobs Engineering staff (EA page 111) [7]. USCG will host two public hearings at 8 am and 6 pm on March 13, at the Ponderay Events Center, 401 Bonner Mall Way in Ponderay, but not in more project-impacted Sandpoint, and will hold a comment period until 8:59 pm Pacific time on March 25, according to its Federal Register notice.  Please see the notice of availability of and the draft EA on the BNSF Sandpoint Junction Connector project, docket USCG-2018-1085, along with 12 supporting appendices offering bridge permit drawings, site photographs, a wetlands and waters of the U.S. delineation report and impact maps, hydraulic and visual impact analyses, a biological assessment, state historic preservation office and other state and local agency letters, the Pend Oreille basin emergency response plan and action reports, and the IDL encroachment permit currently litigated by WIRT. Continue reading

Railroad Bridges Navigation Comments to Coast Guard Due January 17

Soon after Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) filed our opening brief challenging an Idaho Department of Lands/Land Board encroachment permit for Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s Sandpoint Junction Connector project, U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) District 13 bridge program chief Steven Fischer released public notices on December 18, 2018, acknowledging that the USCG has received an application from BNSF, which requests approval of proposed construction locations and plans for second, parallel bridges across Sand Creek and almost one mile over Lake Pend Oreille, both navigable waterways of the United States [1-3].  The lead, federal agency regulating this project is currently asking for public comments exclusively on the “reasonable needs of navigation” potentially affected by the new railroad bridges, encouraging boaters, maritime stakeholders, and the public to carefully review its notice and bridge expansion project summary, plans, diagrams, maps, and locations [4-6].

Please view the searchable, PDF copies of official, signed versions of BNSF applications, as well as the USCG bridge permit application guide and WIRT’s draft comment suggestions describing information missing from the Coast Guard-provided documents and navigation impacted by the proposed, BNSF bridges [7-9].  In your comments, specifically address the compromised safety of navigation around bridge structures and explain other possible, bridge effects on navigation in “sufficient detail to establish a clear understanding of reasons for support of, or opposition to, the proposed work.”  Express your views on or before January 17, 2019, by writing, calling, and sending mail to Commander, Thirteenth Coast Guard District, 915 Second Avenue, Room 3510, Seattle, WA 98174-1067, email to, and/or a call to 206-220-7282.

Request inclusion of your comments in the public record for this winter-inappropriate, navigation comment period offering limited, public information and for the forthcoming environmental assessment or more community-preferred and scientifically rigorous, draft environmental impact statement for the BNSF Sandpoint Junction Connector project.  The Coast Guard has not yet completed this separate, environmental review document nor published public and Federal Register notices announcing its availability for review.  WIRT and regional allies will alert you when the USCG releases it, so you can contribute further, effective comments on the socioeconomic and environmental factors and implications of this industrial invasion of the Pend Oreille watershed.

Thanks for your resistance to this fossil fuels-facilitating, railroad scheme and your support of the WIRT collective’s #No2ndBridge litigation of the Idaho encroachment permit for this project, as we continue to work together to protect the health, beauty, and enjoyment of beloved Lake Pend Oreille and interior Northwest air, waters, and lands. Continue reading

Crowdfund WIRT Litigation of Lake Railroad Bridges Permit

On Tuesday, October 23, registered, Idaho, non-profit Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) launched the live, 90-day, crowdfunding campaign No Second Railroad Bridge over Idaho’s Largest Lake! on CrowdJustice [1].  We urgently need your help raising funds and organizing support for our petition for judicial review of the June 21, 2018, Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) permit for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway’s (BNSF) proposed construction and operation of two permanent and two temporary, parallel, railroad bridges adjacent to the present rail route across Sand Creek and almost a mile over Lake Pend Oreille, near Sandpoint.

Numerous citizens, groups, and government officials have offered written comments, hearing testimonies, public protests, and media articles during the last few years, expressing our concerns over BNSF’s Sandpoint Junction Connector project.  Dismissing this broad input, the state of Idaho approved BNSF’s encroachment permit.  So we are requesting that the Idaho First District Court in Bonner County conduct a rigorous, judicial review of the IDL record, and remand this agency decision for further IDL consideration.  And we are asking for your financial and outreach assistance of grassroots, volunteer, WIRT activists directly engaged in this legal effort.

WIRT greatly appreciates your physical and fiscal support of our extensive, fossil fuels resistance work over the last eight years.  Your essential participation has contributed to a continent-wide movement that is confronting the root causes of climate change, water degradation, and air pollution, through frontline resistance and solidarity and community solutions.  Among our many successful campaigns, WIRT has never faced such enormous, current, and upcoming expenses needed to access the courts and proceed with this case, including attorney, administrative record, bond, filing, and printing fees.

Please pursue these easy actions that will help us win this crucial litigation aimed at protecting our regional water, environment, and economy from the ongoing and potentially increased traffic, noise, pollution, derailment and collision risks, and catastrophic spills of coal, oil, tar sands, hazardous materials, and other “pipeline-on-wheels” trains in north Idaho and throughout the Northwest: Continue reading

WIRT Lawsuit & Petition Against State Railroad Bridges Permit

On September 4, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) filed an amended notice of appeal and petition for judicial review of the June 21 approval of a state, non-navigational, encroachment permit for construction of four proposed, permanent and temporary, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) bridges and associated fill in the navigable waters of Sand Creek and Lake Pend Oreille near Sandpoint, Idaho [1]. The notice requested county court analysis of the entire, Idaho Department of Lands (IDL), administrative record, including public and agency comments, hearing testimony and proceedings, and the BNSF application.  Local attorney Wendy Earle electronically filed the petition and her notice of appearance on WIRT’s behalf,  replacing and expanding the initial notice of appeal hand-delivered pro se (without lawyer representation) with a $500 bond to the Idaho First Judicial District Court in Bonner County, on July 20 [2-5].  The lawsuit names as respondents IDL director David Groeschl, IDL-appointed, May 23 hearings officer Chris Bromley, and the Idaho Board of Land Commissioners.  Copies of the documents were also sent via email to Idaho attorney general (AG) Lawrence Wasden, chief of the AG’s natural resources division Darrell Early, and the respondents’ lawyers, deputy AGs Angela Kaufmann and Joy Vega in Boise, who filed a notice of appearance on August 20.

In an opening procedural overview, the notice describes a filing time extension granted by First District Judge Barbara Buchanan, and notes that petitioner WIRT has exhausted all administrative remedies. It also references the hearing officer’s preliminary order and IDL director’s final order issuing the BNSF permit and culminating from two recorded, May 23, administrative hearings held by IDL and the land board in Ponderay and Sandpoint.  Because IDL failed to properly prepare and publish on the IDL website the final transcripts of those sessions with the legally required, attested signature of the hearings reporter, WIRT sent a request for the official transcripts and pertinent, public records, and mailed a $100 deposit for estimated copying fees to IDL [6].  We also downloaded and printed the full record, including the BNSF application and state documents, from the IDL website.

The notice’s overview of law and facts asserts that petitioner WIRT collectively has standing as an aggrieved party appealing and seeking judicial review of these state actions, because its board members and multiple, WIRT and associated members requested and appeared at the formal hearings and offered comments for the public record. Of 31 citizens who testified at the morning and evening hearings, 21 spoke in opposition to the BNSF rail bridge expansion project, and ten supported it.  As an Idaho non-profit organization, who applied for state incorporation on Friday, August 31, exactly seven years and five months after formation as a climate activist collective, WIRT works to protect environmental values such as water and air quality and habitat for fish and wildlife like threatened bull trout.  WIRT members are concerned about train derailment dangers and environmental health and safety issues arising from increased fossil fuel and hazardous materials infrastructure and traffic capacity, as we reside, recreate, and enjoy the aesthetic qualities of Lake Pend Oreille and Sand Creek.  Some WIRT activists, as registered tribal members of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai bands off the Flathead Reservation, honor the 1859 Stevens treaty granting reserved fishing rights in the Clark Fork River that flows into the lake.  Considering all of these circumstances, approval of the BNSF encroachment permit violates WIRT’s substantial rights and would inflict actual and direct harm, if the state does not vacate this challenged, permit decision. Continue reading