Big Wild Bi-Weekly April 14, 2011

Dear Wildland Lovers,

The month of March was extremely wet, with numerous basins throughout the state receiving twice as much precipitation as they normally do. The Clearwater Basin has been wet too, and soon the snow-covered mountains will begin to melt, signaling the start of white-water boating season on the Lochsa River. As long as the turnouts are not barricaded for Big Oil, river access should be plentiful.

After more than two months of travel, the first two ConocoPhillips mega-loads have reached an oil refinery in Billings, Montana. Officials for the company have said that crews will return to Idaho and begin trucking the 3rd and 4th modules up US 12 around the end of April.

Meanwhile, Exxon/Imperial Oil launched their 250-foot long, 500,000lb. mega-load “test-run” up US 12 on Monday April 11th. Despite two years of careful planning and preparation by expert engineers and state transportation officials, the load clipped a guy wire, snapped a utility pole and knocked power out to 1,300 Weippe and Pierce homes for five hours. The accident closed the highway for one hour. The largest load to ever travel US 12 is scheduled to resume plodding up the highway later this week. Read more: http://www.friendsoftheclearwater.org/node/1042.

With two lawsuits filed, and a contested case hearing set to begin in Boise on Monday April 25th, Exxon/Imperial Oil has hit a legal roadblock on US 12. Officials recently submitted an alternative travel plan to the Idaho Transportation Department that would instead truck at least 66 “reduced-in-size” mega-loads up US 95 and then east on Interstate 90. The loads are approximately 16 feet tall x 24 feet wide x 200 ft long and 250,000lbs. Please send your questions and concerns to Moscow Mayor Nancy Chaney at nchaney@ci.moscow.id.us. Here is our action alert: http://www.friendsoftheclearwater.org/node/1041.

We would like to thank author, activist and lecturer Bill McKibben for appearing on the Wild Clearwater Country radio show on Wednesday March 30th. The founder of 350.org was this year’s keynote speaker for the University of Idaho President’s Sustainability Symposium. To learn more about the great work McKibben is doing http://www.350.org. To support KRFP Radio Free Moscow go here: http://www.krfp.org.

Despite predictions calling for a smaller spring Chinook run, the Idaho Fish & Game Commission has approved a spring fishing season nearly identical to last year. Fishing will be allowed on the North, South and Middle Forks of the Clearwater, as well as on the Lochsa starting Saturday April 23rd. The bag limit for the Clearwater River and its tributaries is three Chinook per day. Wild fish, which still have their adipose fin, must be put back in the river.

If you have not had the opportunity to sign a petition opposing the give-away of public lands in the Upper Lochsa Land Exchange pleases sign: http://www.friendsoftheclearwater.org/node/1043.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy has blocked a settlement agreement between certain conservation groups and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service that would have de-listed wolves in Montana and Idaho, and garnered temporary federal protections for fledgling populations in Washington, Oregon and Utah. Molloy cited the court’s lack of authority to place part of an endangered species population under state management because that was not the intent of Congress when they passed the Endangered Species Act.

The battle has now shifted to Congress, as they are getting ready to vote on a budget bill to keep the federal government funded through 2011. Within that budget is an anti-wolf rider inserted by Representative Mike Simpson (R) Idaho and Senator Jon Tester (D) Montana. If passed, the bill would immediately de-list wolves throughout the Northern Rockies and not give the opportunity to contest the matter in federal court. Use this action alert to call members of Congress: http://www.friendsoftheclearwater.org/node/1048. To read more about wolf management in Idaho read this opinion piece: http://www.friendsoftheclearwater.org/node/1044.

Lastly, we are looking for volunteers to help us with the fast-approaching 38th Annual Moscow Renaissance Fair. As usual we will be selling huckleberry and strawberry crepes, along with apple cider during the festival. If you are available to work a few hours in our booth on Saturday April 30th or Sunday May 1st please contact Lenah Nazer at bluemango101@hotmail.com.

Thanks everybody!

Brett

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