It’s been five months since the transport company Omega Morgan defied U.S. Forest Service orders and trucked a massive megaload of equipment owned by General Electric through the Nez Perce homeland and the Clearwater-Lochsa Wild and Scenic River corridor. This week, following months of legal pressure applied by Idaho Rivers United and the Nez Perce Tribe, the immediate threat to this one-of-a-kind river canyon has passed.
On Wednesday, Dec. 18, Resources Conservation Company International (RCCI), a subsidiary of General Electric, agreed to adhere to the Highway 12 closure order we won in court and withdrew its position as a co-defendant in the federal court case we filed against the U.S. Forest Service.
"This solidifies the injunction that’s in place and will remain in place for the foreseeable future. Instead of spending more time in court we need to be working with the Forest Service to solve this problem," said IRU Conservation Director Kevin Lewis. "The threat of industrialization of this amazing place is still very real."
Megaloads have continued to make news this month as Omega Morgan has been fighting winter weather and working through grassroots protests to haul its remaining GE-owned megaloads across Oregon and southern Idaho via Highway 20. The company is far behind its anticipated schedule but plans to haul the megaloads into Montana via Lost Trail Pass.
Farther north, in Coeur d’Alene, the Dutch company, Mammoet, is working to navigate the bureaucratic and engineering hurdles to truck a 441-foot-long, 27-foot-wide, 1.6 million pound megaload it plans to haul to Montana via Interstate 90.
"Without our intervention, it’s clear that these companies would have attempted to truck all of these loads through the Clearwater-Lochsa Wild and Scenic corridor," Lewis said. "And until the Forest Service implements permanent rules to protect this place, the threat remains. Industrialization of one of America’s first Wild and Scenic river canyons is not acceptable, and the courts have agreed."
IRU continues to look forward to working with the Forest Service to establish permanent rules that protect the Clearwater-Lochsa, one of America’s wild and magnificent places, from industrialization.