Letters From the West

Idaho megaload runs gauntlet into Montana (update)

The Nez Perce blockade at Canoe Camp near Orofino Wednesday night. (Photo courtesy Borg Hendrickson)

The Nez Perce blockade at Canoe Camp near Orofino Wednesday night. (Photo courtesy Borg Hendrickson)

Omega Morgan’s load of evaporators passed into Montana early this morning, climbing over Lolo Pass through another night of protests.

Idaho Rivers United and the Nez Perce Tribe filed a joint lawsuit in federal court in Boise late Thursday as the huge shipment of tar sands equipment continued through tribal lands and the Clearwater-Lochsa Wild and Scenic River corridor.

The tribe and IRU sued the Forest Service, saying it s failure to stop the shipment was an abuse of discretion. They will seek an injunction today to halt the megaload that continued last night and to block other megaloads until the agency completes a review of their impacts on the Nez Perce homeland and the federally protected Wild and Scenic River corridor.

Nez Perce Executive Committee Chairman Silas Whitman said the tribe had exhausted its avenues of diplomacy and outreach, but received no redress.

“The tribe is frustrated we have to take action in court to stop something that a court has previously ordered the Forest Service to actively regulate, but feel we have been left with no other option,” Whitman said.

Rocky Barker is the energy and environment reporter for the Idaho Statesman and has been writing about the West since 1985. He is the author of Scorched Earth How the Fires of Yellowstone Changed America and co-producer of the movie Firestorm: Last Stand at Yellowstone, which was inspired by the book and broadcast on A&E Network. He also co-authored the Flyfisher's Guide to Idaho and the Wingshooter's Guide to Idaho with Ken Retallic. He also was on the Statesman’s team that covered the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news in 2007. The National Wildlife Federation awarded him its Conservation Achievement Award.

Posted in Letters from the West