Dear Wildland Community,
With the long holiday weekend around the corner we wanted to provide you with some quick updates. In this issue you will find information about the US 12 and US 95 mega-load proposals, a call for dam breaching, bridge closures on the Clearwater National Forest, Idaho Fish & Game’s attempt to trap wolves, an opportunity to volunteer at Dworshak Reservoir, and the upcoming Earth First rendezvous.
Earlier this week contested case hearing officer Duff Mckee recommended that the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) move forward and issue permits for the transport of hundreds of Exxon/Imperial Oil mega-loads along US 12. Judge Mckee found that none of the complaints offered by the plaintiffs were strong enough to deny permits. Interveners now have 14 days to file an appeal of his decision, at which point McKee would have 21 days to respond. At that point, ITD Director Brian Ness would be able to issue a final decision.
Advocates for the West recently filed an amended complaint on behalf of Idaho Rivers United in their lawsuit which charges that the Forest Service failed to protect and enhance the Wild & Scenic Middle Fork Clearwater and Lochsa River corridor when giving permission for mega-loads to be transported up US 12. The new amended complaint charges that the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) failed to enforce the terms of the easement between the state of Idaho and the federal government, as well as the Corridor Management Plan, which implements the Scenic Byways program. US 12 is a federally designated scenic byway. Learn more:
ITD is in the process of re-issuing travel permits for the 60 “reduced-in-size” mega-loads sitting at the Port of Lewiston, which were set to travel along US 95 starting Monday June 27th. However, due to staffing issues with the Idaho State Police Department, that plan has been delayed. We will do our best to notify you when those permits have been finalized. Another group that is doing a lot of good work to stop the mega-loads from traveling up US 95 is Wild Idaho Rising Tide. Learn more:
The Western Division of the American Fisheries Society issued a statement this week that the four Lower Snake River dams must be breached if wild salmon and steelhead runs are to be restored. The group felt it was important to announce that their independent scientists and professionals conclude that the present management plan is inadequate. Federal Judge James Redden is expected to issue a decision this summer on whether or not the Obama Administration’s plan for salmon recovery is sufficient. He twice ruled against the Bush administration’s management plans.
Due to high water levels and the possibility of bridge failure the Forest Service has indefinitely closed the Weitas Creek bridge and the 4th of July pack-bridge. Both bridges cross the North Fork Clearwater River. Without funding, the agency is unsure of how and when access can be restored. Please call the Clearwater National Forest for questions or concerns.
The Idaho Fish & Game Department (IFGD) has extended the ability of outfitters to kill wolves in the Lolo Zone area for another month. This coming on the heels of the announcement that outfitters were unsuccessful in killing any wolves during the spring black bear hunting season. Idaho County deputies did recently kill a 90 lb. female wolf outside of the Elk City area and now the department is working with Wildlife Services to trap any other wolves traveling through the area.
IFGD is looking for volunteers to help out with the Dworshak Nutrient Enhancement Project. Participants will spend the day traveling in a boat with agency technicians and collecting water samples on the reservoir. All food and gear will be provided. The agency is attempting to grow larger Kokanee by adding ammonium nitrate to the water. Some people feel that the project has led to an increase in algae blooms, which can cause skin rashes after swimming and can threaten water quality. Please contact our office if you want to volunteer.
Lastly, the Earth First! Northern Rockies Rendezvous is taking place July 5 – 12 near Lolo Pass on the Lolo National Forest. Learn more:
Enjoy the wild weekend!