The Idaho Transportation Department yesterday issued a news release announcing it extended the comment period to Oct. 14 for people to weigh in on a proposed rule to regulate megaloads in the Wild and Scenic Lochsa and Middle Fork of the Clearwater river canyon. The agency will hold a public hearing on the issue today, Wednesday, Sept. 28, in Boise.
The proposed rule would codify criteria created by the U.S. Forest Service in 2013, the same year IRU and the Nez Perce Tribe won an injunction to block megaloads in the Wild and Scenic corridor.
The judge ruled in 2013 that the Forest Service must issue a highway closure order between mile markers 74 and 174 (the Wild and Scenic corridor) and that the closure must remain in effect until the Forest Service completes a study, followed by completion of consultation with the Nez Perce Tribe. Since that time, IRU, the Tribe and Forest Service have been meeting in confidential mediated sessions to hammer out solutions.
Please take action to attend the hearing in Boise--or via video conference--and/or submit comments by email or regular mail by Oct. 14. It is important for the public to voice opposition to a rule making process that has little transparency and no jurisdiction over the federal court's decision.
Here are some talking points to consider in your comments:
- Consultation between the federal government and Nez Perce Tribe is currently taking place, an d that process needs to be respected and completed. The concerns of Idaho Rivers United are under analysis as well.
- The interim rules put forth by the Forest Service are not necessarily going to be the permanent guidelines that govern how the agency makes decisions regarding non-reducible megaload shipments seeking to travel the Wild and Scenic corridor.
- While the state of Idaho has the authority to conduct rule making for matters under its jurisdiction, this is not one of them. In other words, if Idaho chooses to adopt this rule following public involvement, it does not take precedence over the results from the ongoing government-to-government consultation, and the ongoing discussions with IRU.
- The current rule-making process being conducted by the state of Idaho and Idaho Transportation Department lacks genuine transparency and public involvement. The state has already proposed the rule; Idaho could have engaged the public before the rule-making proposal if it was truly interested in public dialogue and concern.
- The public does not support the permitting of non-reducible oversized megaloads on Highway 12 or within the Wild and Scenic corridor. This is rehashing what has already been decided.
Please consider joining others for the Sept. 28 hearing from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Idaho Transportation Department headquarters in Boise at 3311 W. State Street in Boise. Video conferencing and opportunity for public comments will also be available at ITD district offices in Coeur d'Alene, Lewiston, Shoshone, Pocatello and Rigby.
Submit comments through Oct. 14:
- via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- US Postal Service: Idaho Transportation Dept., 3311 W. State St., P.O. Box 7129, Boise ID 83707-1129.
- Via telephone at: 208-334-8810 (Ramon S. Hobdey-Sanchez, Govermental Affairs Program Specialist).