It’s time to encourage the Forest Service to regulate megaloads

In January 2013 this ConocoPhillips evaporator was one of two megaloads shipped by Dutch transporter Mammoet through the Wild and Scenic Lochsa and Clearwater river corridor. The two shipments, destined for the tar sands in Alberta, underscore the need for the U.S. Forest Service to begin managing such uncommonly huge loads in the Wild and Scenic River corridor. (Photo by Borg Hendrickson)

In February Idaho Rivers United won an important victory when a federal judge ruled that the U.S. Forest Service has the jurisdiction to regulate megaloads in the Wild and Scenic Lochsa and Clearwater river corridor of northern Idaho. Now it’s time to encourage the Forest Service to use that authority, and we’re asking for your help.

Clearwater National Forest Supervisor Rick Brazell has repeatedly said that megaloads are inconsistent with the remarkable values for which the corridor was designated a Wild and Scenic River, but at the same time he said the Forest Service did not have the authority to regulate them.

“Authorizing hundreds of oversized loads, now or in the future, jeopardizes the experience the traveling and recreating public will have along US Highway 12 through the introduction of overtly industrial elements into the otherwise pastoral environment,” Brazell wrote in 2010.”I recognize that I have no jurisdiction to stop these shipments.”

On Feb. 7, however, Federal District Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled that federal laws are in fact applicable on Forest Service lands for which an easement was granted to the state of Idaho for operation and maintenance of Highway 12. It’s now our job to convince the Forest Service to take advantage of that authority.

Unfortunately, Brazell stated during a recent public meeting in Moscow, Idaho that the Forest Service isn’t interested in managing Highway 12. Please join others who have already written Brazell to encourage the agency to stop the industrialization of the Lochsa-Clearwater Wild and Scenic River Corridor. By limiting access, megaloads will impact your ability to kayak, raft and fish. They will also disturb the area’s peaceful camping, harm vegetation and other scenic attributes and disturb wildlife including nesting harlequin ducks.

Here’s how your voice will make a difference.

  • Send an email to Clearwater National Forest Supervisor Rick Brazell at rbrazell@fs.fed.us. Also consider copying Regional Forester Faye Krueger at fkrueger@fs.fed.us and Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell at ttidwell@fs.fed.us on your message.
  • Include thoughts about why the Lochsa-Clearwater corridor is important to you.
  • Remind Brazell of his prior statements expressing concern about megaloads on Highway 12.
  • Urge Brazell and the Forest Service to take action to stop the transformation of the Wild and Scenic corridor into an industrial megaload truck route.
  • Please sign your correspondence with your name, email, U.S. Postal Service address and phone number.

Thanks for your involvement and interest. Our February win in federal court was just one step in the process of getting the Forest Service to work proactively to regulate megaloads. Your continuing involvement will help ensure that these Wild and Scenic treasures–two of the original Wild and Scenic Rivers in America–will inspire generations to come with their wild, pastoral and cultural integrity intact.