No appeal on megaloads ruling

Imperial Oil's big blue test module was designed to help determine the navigability of rural Idaho and Montana roads between the Port of Lewiston and the Canadian border. Trucked from the Port of Lewiston to Lolo Pass on the Montana-Idaho border in May 2011 the shipment pulled down power lines and knocked out power to customers along the Clearwater River. (Photo by Kevin Lewis)

The deadline to appeal has passed, and the U.S. Forest Service and Federal Highway Administration have not filed to dispute the court’s ruling that they have authority to regulate megaloads on Highway 12.

Clearwater/Nez Perce National Forest Supervisor Rick Brazell has also indicated the Forest Service’s willingness to move forward in light of the ruling.

“We will be working with Idaho Transportation Department and Federal Highways on this issue,” he said. “Once we have developed the appropriate definitions and protocols we will be better able to address concerns and questions. We are working diligently in this matter to provide the best management to the natural resources as we develop and implement an appropriate response with respect to the Highway 12 issue.”

Following two years in court while facing the ongoing threat of megaloads changing the character of two of America’s first Wild and Scenic Rivers, it’s important to remember the magnitude of this milestone. And it’s because people like you have helped make it possible.

“I am heartened that the Forest Service and Federal Highway Administration accept Judge Winmill’s decision without further legal maneuvering,” said IRU Conservation Director Kevin Lewis. “Now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and work together to protect this special place.”

On Feb. 7, IRU won its case when Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled that the agencies “acted unlawfully” when they determined they could not regulate megaloads within the Wild and Scenic Lochsa and Clearwater river corridor of northern Idaho. The 60-day appeal period expired at midnight on Monday.

With representation by Advocates for the West, IRU pursued the lawsuit to protect this national-treasured and federally-protected river corridor from the impacts of huge truckloads of equipment that threaten the area’s wild, scenic and recreational values. Most of the megaloads, both shipped and proposed, have consisted of equipment manufactured in Asia and destined for tar sands oil production facilities in Alberta.

“This authority clearly gives the federal defendants jurisdiction to review ITD’s approval of mega-load permits that authorize acts along the river corridor including the construction of turnouts along the rivers, the trimming of hundreds of trees, and the restriction of the public’s recreational opportunities,” Winmill ruled.