#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

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WIRT v. IDL/Land Board/BNSF


An updated outline and eventual description of the #No2ndBridge, state court case, with links to pertinent documents, drawn from the electronic, online, Idaho judicial records system, iCourt: Select “Smart Search,” enter “Wild Idaho Rising Tide” and the captcha code, and click “Submit,” then the case number CV09-18-1084.

Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), petitioner, versus David Groeschl, Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) former director, Chris Bromley, IDL hearing officer, and Idaho State Board of Land Commissioners (land board), (state) respondents, and Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway, intervenor

July 20, 2018: WIRT filed a Notice of Appeal of Final Order of Approval of Encroachment Permit L-96-S-0096E to Applicant BNSF, as a new appeal or petition for judicial review (civil case type L3), with filing fees and a posted, cash bond of $500, in Idaho first district court in Sandpoint, Bonner County, initiating active and pending case number CV09-18-1084.

July 25, 2018: First district judge Barbara Buchanan issued a notice of proposed case dismissal and an order striking the WIRT notice of appeal.

August 7, 2018: WIRT filed a request for a filing extension for an amended notice of appeal and petition for judicial review of the final order of approval of encroachment permit L-96-S-0096E to applicant BNSF.

August 15, 2018: First district judge Barbara Buchanan issued an order granting the WIRT request for a filing extension.

August 20, 2018: Retained, case lead attorney Angela Schaer Kaufmann and retained attorney Joy Vega, both of the Idaho attorney general office, filed their notice of appearance for state respondents.

September 4, 2018: WIRT filed an Amended Notice of Appeal & or Petition for Judicial Review, a request for a signed, verbatim transcript of the May 23, 2018, IDL/land board hearings, as exhibit A of the amended notice of appeal, and retained, case lead attorney Wendy Jordan Earle filed a notice of appearance for the petitioner. 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

Climate Justice Forum: 7th Anniversary Show, Railroad Bridges Lawsuit Standing & Navigation Impacts, Idaho Political Corruption, Governor on Climate Change, New York Power Plant Blockade, Pipeline Invasions of First Nations, Fossil Fuel Phase-Out Study 1-23-19


The Wednesday, January 23, 2019, seventh anniversary, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide, features news and reflections on north Idaho railroad bridges lawsuit challenges and navigation impacts, Idaho political corruption and governor acceptance of climate change, a New York tractor blockade of gas power plant construction, First Nations resistance to police and pipeline invasions, and an immediate fossil fuel phase-out study.  Broadcast for seven years on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow, every Wednesday between 1:30 and 3 pm Pacific time, on-air at 90.3 FM and online, the show describes continent-wide opposition to fossil fuel projects, the root causes of climate change, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as her KRFP DJ.

Climate Justice Forum: Railroad Bridge Navigation Comments, Idaho Oil & Gas Commission Resignation, Pipeline Protesters at Oregon Governor Inauguration, Canadian Police & Pipeline Invasion, Indigenous Peoples March Interviews 1-16-19


The Wednesday, January 16, 2019, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide, features news and reflections on navigation comments on proposed, Lake Pend Oreille, railroad bridges, an Idaho oil and gas commission conflict of interest resignation, pipeline resistors’ disruption of an Oregon governor’s inauguration, coastal, First Nations opposition of police and pipeline invasions, and interviews of indigenous peoples movement activists and Washington DC march organizers.  Broadcast for seven years on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow, every Wednesday between 1:30 and 3 pm Pacific time, on-air at 90.3 FM and online, the show describes continent-wide resistance to fossil fuel projects, the root causes of climate change, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as her KRFP DJ.

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 D13-PF-D13BRIDGES@uscg.mil, 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

Climate Justice Forum: Earth First! Uncle Dennis Passing, Railroad Bridges Permit Litigation, Navigation Comments to Coast Guard, Oregon Ruling against Methanol Facility, Canadian Police & Pipeline Invasion of Indigenous Lands 1-9-19


The Wednesday, January 9, 2019, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide, features news and reflections on the passing of Uncle Dennis of the Earth First! Update radio show, litigation of a state permit for railroad bridges over Lake Pend Oreille, bridge navigation comments to the Coast Guard, an Oregon appeals board ruling against a Columbia River methanol facility, and Canadian police invasion, arrests, and solidarity actions around indigenous land protection against pipelines.  Broadcast for seven years on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow, every Wednesday between 1:30 and 3 pm Pacific time, on-air at 90.3 FM and online, the show describes continent-wide resistance to fossil fuel projects, the root causes of climate change, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as her KRFP DJ.

Climate Justice Forum: Bruce Campbell on Lac-Megantic Disaster, 2018 News on Idaho Oil & Gas, Ballot Initiatives, Newport Smelter, & Lake Rail Bridges, Coal Declines, Increased Oil Trains, Bridge Navigation Comments, Oregon Gas Pipeline & Port 1-2-19


The Wednesday, January 2, 2019, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide, features an interview with Bruce Campbell on his Lac-Megantic rail disaster book, and news and reflections on 2018 issues like Payette County oil and gas developments, statewide ballot initiatives, and the proposed, Newport silicon smelter and second, Lake Pend Oreille rail bridge, coal consumption and regulation declines, increased oil train traffic, bridge navigation comments to the Coast Guard, and resistance to the Pacific Connector pipeline and Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas port.  Broadcast for seven years on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow, every Wednesday between 1:30 and 3 pm Pacific time, on-air at 90.3 FM and online, the show describes continent-wide resistance to fossil fuel projects, the root causes of climate change, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as her KRFP DJ.

Climate Justice Forum: Lake Rail Bridge Litigation, Retaliation, & Fundraising, Bridge Navigation & Methanol Refinery Comments, Court Dismissal of Coal Port Claims, BC Pipeline Blockades, Failed Alaska Oil & Gas Auctions 12-26-18


The Wednesday, December 26, 2018, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide, features news and reflections on railroad retaliation against grassroots litigation of a lake train bridge state permit, crowdfunding and benefit events for #No2ndBridge legal action, comments on Coast Guard bridge navigation and a Washington methanol refinery, federal court dismissal of coal port claims, British Columbia pipeline blockades by First Nations, failed Alaska oil and gas lease auctions, Interior secretary Ryan Zinke replacement, and other topics.  Broadcast for seven years on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow, every Wednesday between 1:30 and 3 pm Pacific time, on-air at 90.3 FM and online, the show describes continent-wide resistance to fossil fuel projects, the root causes of climate change, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as her KRFP DJ.