Oppose Collaborative Deforestation around Lake Pend Oreille!

Featured


The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service (USFS) and compromised, north Idaho Big Greens involved in the Panhandle Forest “Collaborative” have agreed to massive deforestation of steep mountains on the remote, wilder, east side of Lake Pend Oreille, promoted as “restoration” projects to reduce wildfires and insect and disease outbreaks [1, 2].  Over the next few years, the Sandpoint Ranger District of the Idaho Panhandle National Forests (IPNF) and timber companies plan to excessively build roads and log over 175,000 acres of Lake Pend Oreille slopes, which would degrade water and air quality, wildlife habitat, protected areas, and recreational opportunities.  A complex of three contiguous logging projects, the 57,000-acre Buckskin Saddle, 43,000-acre Chloride Gold, and 43,500-acre Honey Badger, extends 45 miles from the Clark Fork River on the north, throughout eastern lake forests, and south to the Hayden Lake area.  Government proposals and decisions on these unnecessary forays into carbon-sequestering forests overlap temporally, while the middle Chloride Gold project also overlaps spatially with the area of the Kaniksu Winter Recreation environmental assessment (EA).  These USFS overlaps are called “stacking National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documents,” an illegal rush and overburden of public scrutiny.

Located to the south of federal agency-finalized Buckskin Saddle project destruction, currently stalled by Johnson Creek bridge replacement near the Clark Fork River delta between September 2022 and May 2023, and potential litigation by grassroots groups, the Chloride Gold (CG) project proposes to conduct “vegetation management,” “hazardous fuels reduction,” and other activities to “manage invasive plants, roads, trails, recreation, wildlife habitat, and improve fish passage under roads … [and] overall landscape resiliency to disturbances” [2-6].  Pre-scoping ideas suggested that the USFS planned to push approximately 23.8 miles of new, “temporary” road construction and over 12 square miles of forest “regeneration” cuts in the area, which would remove the vast majority of trees in over 17,000 acres (26.6 square miles), through logging, road building, and controlled burning, even in inventoried roadless areas (IRAs).  According to the December 1, 2022, Chloride Gold scoping notice signed by Sandpoint District ranger Jessie Berner, over 22,500 acres would undergo “vegetation treatments” including large clearcuts and prescribed burns.  The scoping letter requests public review and comments by Monday, January 16, 2023, for USFS consideration in drafting only an environmental assessment (EA), not the full environmental impact statement (EIS) required and necessary for the CG onslaught.

On September 27, 2022, in preparation for a public presentation and field trip refuting this logging project, provided by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) in spring or summer 2023, Northern Rockies wildlands and wildlife activist and GIS researcher Paul Sieracki and two WIRT board members visited the Chloride Gold logging project area [7].  With precise maps in hand while exploring CG forests, these citizen monitors found a highly impacted landscape, crossed by a spaghetti network of roads and all-terrain vehicle (ATV) and motorcycle trails, devastated by huge logged areas, and immersed in road dust and subsequent lake haze.  They documented and publicly offered their observations with photographs and descriptions, noting several situations in which further CG ravages could severely disturb flora, fauna, and roadless areas [7].  For the Wednesday, January 11, 2023, Climate Justice Forum, weekly radio program produced by WIRT and recorded and posted on the WIRT website, Paul graciously expounded on his knowledge of the probable damages of the lakeside Chloride Gold scheme [8].  WIRT shares a summary of these insights in the following sections intended to further inform and assist public input resisting this CG cause of regional climate chaos. Continue reading

Stop Uinta Basin Railway Solidarity Action

Featured


Stop Uinta Basin Railway Solidarity Action FlyerWild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and climate activists throughout the West are organizing solidarity protests of oil trains and infrastructure, for a day of action against the Uinta Basin Railway (UBR), supporting campaigns against the Utah oil-by-rail scheme and in north Idaho, denouncing completion of BNSF Railway’s second, almost mile-long, rail bridge across the state’s largest, deepest lake: mountainous Lake Pend Oreille.  Utah and Colorado comrades are calling for community-led actions on Saturday, December 10, 2022, to show that concerned citizens object to the devastating UBR project, and to pressure federal lawmakers, state representatives, and local governments to prevent building of the Uinta Basin Railway.  They ask everyone to explore the #StopUintaBasinRailway action toolkit with information about the UBR and action coordination, sign a letter to Agriculture Department Secretary Tom Vilsack, demanding that he revoke the U.S. Forest Service permit for the railway, participate in actions happening in a dozen locations, register to join a remote phone bank on Tuesday, December 13, at 10 am Pacific time, and tell UBR opponents that you are interested in assisting this campaign [1-2].

To involve local communities across the United States in advocating against UBR permits and their potential disasters for climate and environmental justice, Colorado groups held a public, online, action training on November 10 [3].  Organizers with years of experience shared ideas about planning effective actions and helped participants learn about the UBR oil trains that would threaten lives and livelihoods along rail routes from Utah to Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana, and around the southern Northwest, Union Pacific Railroad (UP) line across southern Idaho and eastern Oregon to western Washington.

Most of WIRT and allied resistance to behemoth oil and coal train shipments has successfully focused on dozens of BNSF Railway fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails routes from the Great Plains to the West Coast.  We rarely demonstrate against Union Pacific, except while decrying its few weekly, Northwest, tar sands trains and myriad derailments, including the Mosier, Oregon, oil train spill and fire in June 2016.  Based on our experiences of BNSF’s ongoing malfeasance, WIRT encouraged and sent extensive comments on the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) in 2021, opposing the Uinta Basin Railway, and talked about the issue during recent years on our weekly, Climate Justice Forum, radio program [4].  WIRT remains steadfast in our thorough monitoring, reporting, and protesting of daily, BNSF, Bakken crude oil trains across north Idaho, as we gratefully accept dedicated co-workers’ invitations to alert our regional neighbors to the impending dangers and direct action opportunities of Utah oil transport across the Northwest.

Uinta Basin & BNSF Railways Protest

As part of countless demonstrations against the fossil fuel causes of the climate crisis and their insidious pollution, risks, and impacts on north Idaho and Northwest rail line communities, we plan to protest both the proposed Uinta Basin Railway oil trains and tracks and the BNSF Railway expansion of its industrial infrastructure into Lake Pend Oreille and Sandpoint, with three second rail bridges and two miles of doubled main line.  Please dress for warmth and dryness, bring your signs and banners, voices and drums, friends and family, and joy and courage, and join WIRT and inland Northwest activists for the Stop Uinta Basin Railway Solidarity Action at 12 noon on Saturday, December 10, at the Serenity Lee trailhead near the East Superior Street and Highway 95 intersection and/or on the public, pedestrian, and bike path to Dog Beach Park in Sandpoint, Idaho.  WIRT will provide on-site action advice and chants and pizza for appreciated participants after the gathering.  Respond in advance with your questions and suggestions, share this event information and flyer among your associates and contacts, and see previous and upcoming, website- and facebook-posted, WIRT newsletters and alerts, for further updates on these issues.

Uinta Basin Railway Opposition Continue reading

November 17-18 GTN Xpress Action, WIRT Talk, & FEIS Release

Featured


Stop GTN Xpress Phone ZapGTN Xpress & Idaho & Northwest Stakeholders

Canadian energy company TC Energy (formerly TransCanada), owner of the notorious Keystone and Keystone XL tar sands pipelines and the Coastal GasLink line under contested construction through unceded, indigenous, Wet’suwet’en territories in British Columbia (B.C.), has applied to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to increase the “natural” gas pipeline volumes and pressures of three compressor stations along its Gas Transmission Northwest (GTN) pipeline, with the GTN Xpress expansion project from B.C. through north Idaho, eastern Washington, and central Oregon.  The 61-year-old, potentially explosive GTN pipeline passes under Wild Idaho Rising Tide’s (WIRT) fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails frontline community and waters around Sandpoint and Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho, through several rural sacrifice zones, and below the Spokane, Washington, metropolitan area.  One of the GTN compressor stations planned for upgrades stands near dozens of unaware residences and a popular amusement park full of hundreds of visitors in Athol, Idaho [1].

TC Energy and partner fossil fuel corporations propose to increase the capacity for dangerous methane gas in the existing, 1,354-mile GTN pipeline by 150 million cubic feet per day, pushing more gas into the Northwest and locking communities into expensive fossil fuel energy for decades.  If approved by FERC, the GTN Xpress expansion would cause continued fracking in tribal lands in Canada and threaten and harm the health and safety of rural, low-income communities living and working along the pipeline route.  Prone to accidents like leaks, fires, and explosions, the aging infrastructure of pipelines and compressor stations risks exposing nearby residents to cancer-causing pollutants.

Over the last few decades, Northwest citizens have defeated fossil fuels pipelines, processing plants, and export terminals, and organized to pass local and state climate laws, while experiencing record droughts, wildfires, storms, floods, and other climate change impacts.  But sneakier pipeline expansions require different government processes and regulations than new pipeline construction, even though GTN Xpress would exacerbate the greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the climate crisis contributing to these conditions.  Supplying enough gas to serve 1.2 million households each day, GTN Xpress would contradict Oregon and Washington state policy commitments to reduce climate pollution and end dependence on climate-wrecking fossil fuels.

During summer 2022, over 1,300 people petitioned FERC to deny TC Energy’s plans; Columbia River tribes voiced their resistance; a broad, emerging coalition of Northwest community groups commented against the project; and the attorneys general of California, Oregon, and Washington told FERC that they oppose GTN Xpress, because it clearly conflicts with state and federal climate goals.  With FERC expected to release the scheme’s final environmental impact statement (EIS) on November 18, 2022, and to issue an ultimate decision in February 2023, Northwesterners need to hold FERC accountable, ask that the agency address valid climate, public health, and environmental concerns raised across the region, and demand that FERC reject the GTN Xpress project.

Since April 2022, the WIRT climate activist collective has been informing, networking, and supporting impacted, indigenous, and grassroots groups and individuals and state, county, and city, elected and agency officials about GTN Xpress, along the north Idaho and eastern Washington GTN pipeline corridor and in southern Idaho, where Intermountain Gas customers would receive over half of the additional GTN Xpress methane gas from a Stanfield, Oregon, compressor station diversion.  We have provided extensive comments to FERC on behalf of WIRT’s 3,200-plus contacts, and communicated and urged opposition to the GTN Xpress gas pipeline expansion via social media, email, website, and other online resources, and through WIRT’s weekly, eleven-years-broadcast, community radio program [2].  WIRT plans to continue to raise resistance to this Canadian stranded gas asset invasion of the Northwest, by encouraging citizen involvement in public processes and alternative methods of GTN Xpress rejection.

Stop GTN Xpress Week of Actions Report Continue reading

Stop GTN Xpress Week of Actions

Featured


Stop GTN Xpress Week of Actions FlyerRegional organizations and grassroots activists of 350 Spokane, Idaho Chapter Sierra Club, Palouse Extinction Rebellion, Rogue Climate, Veterans for Peace Spokane Chapter 35, and Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) request your participation and support of public protests of three corporations pushing the dangerous Gas Transmission Northwest (GTN) Xpress pipeline expansion project.  We are collectively co-hosting these actions in solidarity with sovereign Wet’suwet’en land defenders and water protectors opposing Coastal GasLink pipeline construction through their unceded, indigenous territories in British Columbia, Canada.  Allied groups are planning peaceful, safe, and effective citizen pickets on nearby public walkways outside fossil fuel company offices during early November, to attract a broad range of involvement and responses from the public, issue coalition groups, and media.  Several partner organizations are graciously offering travel funds and providing Stop GTN Xpress/Coastal GasLink logo designs, T-shirts, signs, banners, and other equipment.  Volunteer activists are eager to engage you in resistance to both Northwest gas pipelines owned by TC Energy, notorious for its Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.  Please share this event announcement and flyer and other campaign outreach materials via text, social media, email, and website, invite and bring your friends, family, and protest signs, create props and coordinate carpools and various logistics, and join us at one or all of these lively demonstrations!

Tuesday, November 1, 4 pm PDT at TC Energy, 201 West North River Drive, Suite 505, Spokane, Washington: Meet on the north path along the Spokane River, across from Riverfront Park and between Washington and Division streets

Wednesday, November 2, 4 pm PDT at Cascade Natural Gas, 8113 West Grandridge Boulevard, Kennewick, Washington: Gather on the south sidewalk along Grandridge Boulevard

Friday, November 4, 4 pm MDT at Intermountain Gas, 555 South Cole Road, Boise, Idaho: Converge on the west Cole Road walkway near the Farmers Lateral Canal

Resist plans by TC Energy (formerly TransCanada) and regional “natural” gas utilities to increase methane gas volumes by 150 million (and eventually, incrementally 250 million) cubic feet per day and upgrade the capacity of three compressor stations of the 1,354-mile GTN pipeline that crosses from British Columbia, through north Idaho, eastern Washington, and central Oregon, to California [1, 2].  The 61-year-old, potentially explosive, climate-wrecking gas pipeline is dangerously located under the Spokane, Washington, metropolitan area and below the Schweitzer ski resort parking lot and city of Sandpoint, Idaho.  The Athol, Idaho, pump station proposed for expansion stands only two miles from the popular Silverwood Theme Park, full of hundreds of visitors on precarious rides during spring, summer, and fall days.

GTN has applied to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for a certificate of public convenience and necessity to permit the GTN Xpress expansion project.  But controversy has continued to grow during and since the too-brief comment period on FERC’s draft environmental impact statement (EIS) that closed on August 22, despite a timely letter from twenty mostly Oregon groups and Wild Idaho Rising Tide, requesting that FERC provide an additional 30 days for the public to review and evaluate the document [3].  As thousands of people across the Northwest rise to oppose GTN Xpress, FERC has received over 1,300 oppositional petition signatures and extensive, informative remarks from concerned citizens, environmental and climate groups, and tribal, state, and federal government officials, denouncing draft EIS deficiencies and the fracked gas pipeline expansion’s significant contributions to worsening climate change, while the Northwest transitions off fossil fuels toward more sustainable, renewable energy sources [2, 4, 5].

Attempting to foist stranded Canadian gas assets on the Northwest, likely aware of its gradually failing product prospects, TC Energy expects to quickly, stealthily secure GTN Xpress approval by FERC and other government regulatory agencies.  It has strategically enlisted contracted, third-party, environmental reviewers with undisclosed conflicts of interests as consulting firms simultaneously working with TC Energy, and has expanded its other pipeline volumes, instead of building new infrastructure that attracts justified direct actions from frontline fossil fuels fighters [6, 7].  With anticipated release of a final EIS on November 18, postponed from October 14, and a pending conclusive FERC decision on GTN Xpress in February 2023, impacted residents and concerned communities must act swiftly to protect the inland Northwest from this proposal [8]. Continue reading

Seventh Panhandle Paddle


Seventh Panhandle Paddle Flyer

Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and allied activists, friends, and supporters heartily welcome your participation in the upcoming, Seventh Panhandle Paddle weekend of opportunities to discuss, train for, and stage resistance to the fossil fuels and railroad industry degraders of human rights, environmental health, and the global climate.  Interior Northwest residents are coordinating and co-hosting annual activities in Sandpoint, Idaho, to unite in opposition to regional coal, oil, and tar sands trains, terminals, and derailments and Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s almost complete track and bridge construction across downtown Sandpoint, Sand Creek, and Lake Pend Oreille.  Amid the intensifying situations of north Idaho railroad expansion, federal and media criminalization of dissenters, and COVID-19 health and economic disasters during the last two-plus years, we are reaching out to you, our regional network comrades, to share direct action skills and invite you to join with rail line communities, to protest fossil-fueled climate change via these free events on Thursday through Sunday, September 22 to 25.  We would appreciate your involvement in the talk, workshop, and paddle, your RSVP of your intentions for spots in kayaks, canoes, and carpools, and your assistance with distributing this event description and printing and posting the color, PDF version of the WIRT website-linked Seventh Panhandle Paddle Flyer.

#No2ndBridge Talk

6 to 8 pm Thursday, September 22

Gardenia Center, Sandpoint

At this informal discussion, participants can exchange issue information, expand knowledge, and brainstorm strategies and tactics for creatively engaging and catalyzing further community resistance and regulatory and legal recourse to BNSF’s Sandpoint Junction Connector project and railroad infrastructure, pollution, and risks in the Lake Pend Oreille area and beyond, which activists have denounced and challenged during each of the Panhandle Paddles [1-5].  Please bring ideas about campaign organizing and railroad monitoring and protesting, and gather at 6 pm on Thursday, September 22, at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint.  During and after the Thursday and Saturday meetings, we plan to broaden coalitions and camaraderie among activists, while continuing conversations and enjoying music outside nearby pubs.

Direct Action Training

2 to 5 pm Saturday, September 24

Gardenia Center, Sandpoint

Regional climate and environmental 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, trainers will offer their expertise through three one-hour presentation and practice sessions on topics such as knowing your rights, strategizing and tactical thinking, affinity group dynamics, target selection and scouting, action design, roles, and documentation, media communications, police interactions, de-escalation, security, safety, and self-defense,  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 justice movements within current, U.S., political contexts.  Prior speakers have given advice on road and railroad actions, digital security, pipeline blockades, grand jury resistance, know-your-rights, and the previously mentioned subjects.  Organizers holding these trainings anticipate reciprocally learning and strengthening the volunteer activism gaining momentum in the Idaho Panhandle.  We encourage everyone who plans to attend to RSVP in advance and request particular topics and further logistical information.  Join WIRT and guests anytime between 2 and 5 pm on Saturday, September 24, at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint.

Panhandle Paddle

10 am to 12 pm Sunday, September 25

City and Dog Beach Parks, Sandpoint

For a seventh 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, terminals, and derailments and north Idaho, railroad bridge and track expansion.  To accommodate participants who are renting single or double kayaks, paddleboards, or other manual watercraft from Sandpoint businesses that open at 9 am, activists are meeting an hour later, at 10 am on Sunday, September 25.  Near the south boat ramp at City Beach Park in Sandpoint, we will launch 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 11 am 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, and respond to WIRT with your boat rental intentions and mobility needs, so we can reserve and cover the costs of watercraft, and arrange transportation for folks who cannot walk to Dog Beach Park. Continue reading

Stop North Idaho’s Keystone XL Pipeline!

Featured


0 GTN Idaho Map 1

GTN Xpress Gas Pipeline Expansion

Residents of the Northwest and Turtle Island continent continue to experience the extreme, worsening heat, droughts, wildfires, storms, and floods caused by fossil-fueled climate change.  But Canadian energy company TC Energy (formerly TransCanada), owner of the notoriously leaky Keystone tar sands pipeline, partially completed but unpermitted Keystone XL pipeline, and new Coastal GasLink line invading unceded indigenous lands in British Columbia (B.C.), expects the public not to notice its plans to stealthily expand its 1,353-mile-long Gas Transmission Northwest (GTN) pipeline across north Idaho, eastern Washington, and central Oregon [1-5].

The GTN Xpress project would dangerously increase “natural” gas volumes by 150 million to 250 million cubic feet per day, in its 61-year-old pipeline system.  GTN transports gas extracted via hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” from the prolific West Canadian Sedimentary Basin and Rocky Mountain fields of northeast British Columbia and Alberta.  It connects with the Foothills and Nova Gas Transmission pipelines in Canada near Kingsgate, B.C., crosses the U.S. border at Eastport, Idaho, and terminates in Malin, Oregon, where it flows into the Tuscarora pipeline in northern California.  In north Idaho, the climate-wrecking, potentially explosive GTN pipeline traverses the Moyie Valley, Bonners Ferry, and the Highway 95 corridor, close and parallel to railroad lines.  GTN passes under a Schweitzer Mountain ski resort parking lot and West Pine Street in Sandpoint, and below the Pend Oreille River near Dover, downstream from Idaho’s largest, deepest lake.  From Malin in southern Oregon, the controversial Pacific Connector pipeline would have carried feedstock gas out to the coastal Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal in Coos Bay.  But a decade-plus of broad public opposition and regulatory hurdles overcame both boondoggles.

Through a compression-only expansion of the GTN system, GTN Xpress would software-upgrade the capacity and pressure of the gas-fired turbine compressor at the Athol, Idaho, pump station 5, from 14,300 to 23,470 horsepower.  Although the Athol station is located at 2244 East Seasons Road in Kootenai County, a dispatch center in Portland, Oregon, remotely controls it and 11 other compressor stations, numbered 3 through 14, which move gas along the U.S. part of the pipeline.  The facility stands just two miles west-northwest of the popular Silverwood Theme Park, full of hundreds of visitors on precarious rides during spring, summer, and fall days.  Installing new equipment and improving an access road at two Washington and Oregon compressor stations and along the pipeline, the GTN Xpress project would push an additional 250,000 dekatherms of gas per day out to smaller, linked pipelines and markets in Washington, Oregon, and California.  As one dekatherm provides enough gas for five average-sized (over-large) homes, new GTN Xpress infrastructure and gas volumes would force 1.2 million households to use fossil fuels for at least another 30 years.

Excess Gas & Northwest Energy Transitions

In its October 2021 application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), seeking a certificate of public convenience and necessity for the GTN Xpress project, TC Energy claims that “increased market demand driven by residential, commercial, and industrial customers in the Pacific Northwest” justifies aged GTN pipeline expansion, and that “the benefits of GTN’s proposed project far outweigh its potential adverse impacts” [6].  These plans prompted FERC to prepare a draft, federal, environmental impact statement (EIS) currently undergoing public scrutiny and input [7-9].  Although TC Energy has urged FERC to approve the project with a final EIS by October 14, 2022, and to authorize it by the 90-day federal deadline of January 12, 2023, company and agency staff must first prove to the commission that Americans, not just Idahoans and Northwesterners, need this pipeline expansion, and that GTN Xpress would benefit public interests.  As FERC called for draft EIS scoping comments on the project in February 2022, it also updated its policies guiding decisions on natural gas projects, allowing the agency to more thoroughly consider a proposal’s contributions to climate change and potential impacts on landowners and environmental justice [10]. Continue reading

Support WIRT Crowdfunding for PRDC!

Featured


Protect Palouse Prairie WetlandsProtect Palouse Prairie Wetlands from Highway Expansion

For the fourth time in 20 years, the Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition (PRDC) is challenging the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) and now also the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), in an ongoing citizen attempt to force selection of the least environmentally disruptive, central C-3 route for proposed U.S. Highway 95 realignment south of Moscow, Idaho.  PRDC filed a legal complaint in the U.S. District Court of Idaho on March 22, 2022, against the Thorn Creek Road to Moscow highway project.  This ITD scheme plans to reroute and expand to four lanes a six-mile segment of Highway 95, along the easternmost E-2 alternative route highest on Paradise Ridge.  The E-2 alignment would significantly impact some of the few remaining tracts of native Palouse Prairie and several critical wetlands.

PRDC disputes ITD’s assessment that the E-2 route would not destroy essential wetlands larger than the half-acre threshold of the Clean Water Act.  Smaller wetland sizes along E-2 would allow the project to proceed under a “nationwide” permit, with fewer restrictions and no further public input, while wetlands larger than a half-acre require the Corps to issue a more rigorous “individual” permit.  If PRDC can prove that some wetlands along the E-2 route each surpass a half-acre in size, ITD may be forced to stop commenced construction, re-apply to the Corps for an individual permit, and defend its preferred E-2 alternative as the “least environmentally damaging, practicable alternative” (LEDPA), which it is not.

After negotiations among opposing attorneys, the federal court let PRDC bring two wetlands scientists and a licensed surveyor into the E-2 right-of-way.  These experts found more than a half-acre of wetlands near the southern end of the project.  Subsequently, the ITD wetlands consultant sent back to the contested site confirmed the prior ITD determination.  Now, the Corps intends to study the area and decide whether the assessments of ITD, PRDC, or neither are correct.

On July 27, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), a member organization of the PRDC coalition, launched a crowdfunding site for PRDC, to help cover the work of attorneys and experts that could cost up to $20,000, during this expensive phase of current litigation.  To win this federal case and protect native Palouse Prairie on Paradise Ridge from Highway 95 expansion, PRDC and WIRT are relying on contributions from concerned citizens and the regional community.

Please support these earnest efforts by generously donating soon toward the $4,000 target of this publicly transparent crowdfunding campaign on the GiveButter platform, or by mailing a check to PRDC.  You can further assist WIRT and PRDC reaching this goal by posting this crowdfunding page and PRDC website and facebook page updates to social media, sharing issue information and articles with your friends and family, and encouraging participation in giving to PRDC.  Thanks in advance for your gracious contributions!

Protect Palouse Prairie Wetlands from Highway Expansion

Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition website

Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition facebook page

P.O. Box 8804, Moscow, ID 83843

Sixth Kalispel Remember the Water Canoe Journey


Kalispel Canoe Journey 8-5-21On Tuesday, August 2, through Saturday, August 7, Kalispel and regional tribal members and the River Warrior Society are holding the annual Remember the Water canoe journey [1].  The paddle usually voyages between Qpqpe (Sandpoint, Idaho) and the Qlispe (Kalispel) Tribal Powwow Grounds, during the days before and beginning the yearly Kalispel Powwow and around the time of the Festival at Sandpoint music concerts.  Families and friends are again paddling over 35 miles in traditional, dugout, wooden and sturgeon nose canoes, through their home lands and waters in the tributaries, lake, and river of the Pend Oreille watershed.  While oil and gas pipeline expansions and fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails infrastructure and transportation impose and risk further harms to indigenous people and places across Turtle Island (North America), Native neighbors continue to revive, uphold, and practice their ancient cultures and sustainable ways, through admirable endeavors like this canoe journey and culminating powwow.

Paddle organizers encourage observers and participants to share this joyful cultural resurgence at various route locations.  Like during previous years, and as depicted in linked photos and articles about prior journeys, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists and area groups plan to welcome the paddlers at Sandpoint, during their arrival on Wednesday evening and departure on Thursday morning, August 3 and 4 [2-11].  The canoe journey tentatively begins with a Tuesday evening, August 2, meeting at the Kalispel Powwow Grounds, initially launches on the Pack River on Wednesday, August 4, and re-starts from Sandpoint City Beach Park on Thursday morning, August 5, ultimately reaching its destination of the Kalispel Village on Saturday, August 7.  Please see the enclosed itinerary, join WIRT in supporting this adventure, and contact Nathan Piengkham via facebook and/or respond to WIRT, for further information, logistics, and ways to help. Continue reading

Stop Oil Trains 2022


Stop Oil Trains 2022 FlyerJuly 8-10 annual actions remember the Lac-Mégantic, Mosier, & Custer disasters

Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and allied activists invite everyone to participate in ninth annual, Stop Oil Trains direct actions and a training workshop in north Idaho, on Friday, July 8, through Sunday, July 10.  Five events commemorate the 47 lives lost and downtowns devastated by oil train derailments, spills, explosions, and fires in the lakeside village of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, on July 6, 2013, the Columbia River Gorge town of Mosier, Oregon, on June 3, 2016, and the northwestern hamlet of Custer, Washington, on December 22, 2020.  These demonstrations also support pipeline-on-rails resistance across the Northwest and in trackside and pipeline corridor communities and environments threatened and polluted by dangerous oil and its disasters.

Spotlight Message Projection

Friday & Saturday, July 8 & 9, 10 pm, Downtown Sandpoint

As the sun sets, WIRT and allied organizers will provide brief, light projection displays of social and climate justice messages on tall buildings in downtown Sandpoint, Idaho.  Meet after 10 pm on Friday and Saturday, July 8 and 9, wherever you see this light show, for discussions among activists and curious passersby, about Northwest oil train and terminal and gas pipeline expansion issues.

Resistance Outreach

Saturday, July 9, 9 am to 1 pm, near Farmin Park, Sandpoint

Gather with volunteer activists between 9 am and 1 pm on Saturday, July 9, at the WIRT outreach table at the corner of Fourth and Oak Streets near Farmin Park, during the Farmers Market at Sandpoint, Idaho.  We plan to talk with residents and visitors of the one-mile-wide, north Idaho “bomb train blast zone,” offer updates on Northwest oil and coal trains and infrastructure and Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s second railroad bridges, and provide #No2ndBridge and other petitions, letters, flyers, and brochures [1-3].

Oil Trains Protest

Saturday, July 9, 1 pm, Farmin to City Beach Parks, Sandpoint

At 1 pm on Saturday, July 9, bring your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, protest signs, and creative spirit, to show community opposition to dangerous crude oil conduits to refineries and export facilities: Oil trains and railroad infrastructure, like the present and proposed, BNSF rail bridges.  Starting from the Farmin Park area, we will walk with banners and signs objecting to the Northwest pipeline-on-wheels and railroad expansion, through downtown Sandpoint to City Beach Park.  At these public march origin and destination places, we will share reflections and stories about the isolated vulnerability of rural, rail corridor communities to oil train and derailment catastrophes and industry invasions of local environments and economies.

Train Watch Workshop

Sunday, July 10, 4 pm, Gardenia Center, Sandpoint

For the annual training sessions on regional coal, oil, and tar sands trainspotting, David Perk of 350 Seattle will present methods for trackside observing, documenting, and reporting Northwest fossil fuels train traffic, via photos, videos, and social media.  He will discuss rail routes from the plains to the coast, train descriptors, refinery and receiving facilities, rail system operations, stopovers, and transit times, and train watch motivations and resources.  Please RSVP to WIRT for required registration to join this teleconferenced conversation with David generously sharing images, skills, and insights, beginning at 4 pm on Sunday, July 10, via Zoom and at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint, Idaho.  WIRT needs more train monitors along the tracks of the north Idaho, fossil fuels frontline, to document all westbound, unit trains of cars hauling Powder River Basin coal, Bakken crude oil, and Canadian tar sands.

Issue Background Continue reading

PRDC Donations, Earth Day, Ren Fair, & WIRT Opportunities


North Idaho Earth Day Climate March FlyerDefend 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 [4].

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 [5].  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.

Continue reading