What do you do when transport company is breaking federal law with state protection to haul giant machinery through Idaho to tar sands hell?

It seems as though the Idaho and Montana state governments are working for Canada and the oil companies. Idaho citizens and the Nez Perce Tribe protests but they get arrested, rather than the other way around.  Can the megaloads be turned back?  A second effort to block the Omega-Morgan load will apparently be made August 8.

Idaho Rivers United (IRU) is a conservation organization representing those who love the freedom, adventure and solitude of Idaho’s rivers. They are exploring legal angles to stop this violation of U.S. Forest Service regulations issued after a decision by Idaho Federal Judge Lynn Winmill.  The megaload violates all the stated rules governing the transport of large loads up U.S. Highway 12 through the Middle Fork/Lochsa Wild and Scenic Rivers corridor toward Montana.  The state of Montana has already issued the company a permit, making a tiny fee of $3,195 to tear up Montana Highways.

All this trouble comes from the effort to deliver more machinery to what many believe is the most hideous project on the planet, the tar sands stripped hell of Alberta.

IRU has issued a news release on their legal efforts to turn around this illegal megaload run.

. . . .
BOISE — In direct defiance of a U.S. Forest Service order and federal court ruling, an enormous megaload began an unauthorized journey up U.S. Highway 12 in north Idaho late

Monday, and Nez Perce tribal leaders were arrested while blocking the load’s passage near Lewiston.

IRU supports the tribe, which said that talking, collaboration and diplomacy had failed to stop the industrial assault of the tribal homeland. The load is headed for the Nez Perce/ Clearwater National Forest, where the forest supervisor has clearly said the load may not pass. “The companies shipping this load have disrespected the Nez Perce Tribe, the Forest Service, a federal judge and the law, and it will not stand,” said IRU Conservation Director Kevin Lewis. “Despite clear direction from the Forest Service that these loads are not authorized for movement through the Highway 12 corridor, Omega Morgan manufactured this confrontation, and IRU is exploring all of its legal options.”

The shipment that departed the night of August 5—an evaporator owned by General Electric Corp. and bound for the tar sands mines in Alberta —is 21 feet wide, 255 feet long, 23 feet high and weighs 644,000 pounds. The Forest Service sent letters Monday to Omega Morgan and the Idaho Transportation Department making clear that the company’s megaload was not authorized to travel across national forest land or through the Clearwater-Lochsa Wild and Scenic River corridor.

Omega Morgan will not enter the national forest, however, until it passes Kooskia at approximately milepost 74 on Highway 12. The company’s decision to truck the megaload sets up a pending confrontation when the load departs Kooskia. “The decision by Omega Morgan and General Electric to ship this megaload is a direct affront to the Nez Perce Tribe and to the people of the United States who own these national forest lands and for whom the Wild and Scenic River corridor is protected. IRU stands firmly with the Nez Perce Tribe and others in defense of this unique and special place


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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

6 Responses to Idaho conservation group looks for legal ways to stop the illegal megaload

  1. I foresee a contingent of Nez Perce Tribal and USDA Forest Service police officers, reinforced with officers of the US Marshal Service, turning away the megaload and its escort force of Idaho State Police officers and members of the Idaho County Sheriffs Office as it approaches the Nez
    Perce Clearwater National Forest.

    I find it hard to believe that, even as ‘crazy’ as some in Idaho are, that either of the state or county agencies involved in this escort effort are headed by individuals who actually believe in the supremacy of Idaho state statues on Federal land.

    Once the caravan attempts to enter land controlled by the Federal government, and onto which a Federal Court has already ordered that the shipment may neither enter nor cross, both Idaho agencies will surely cease this foolish effort to defy a Federal Court order, and withdraw.

  2. Richie G. says:

    I know it’s early for you guys I wish you the best of luck and again thanks Ralph for this update. You will never find this on MSNBC, nor CNN , and for sure fox news. Just like what Russia with Snowden I heard most Americans side with Snowden on our rights being violated. What is really going on with both parties and Larry Summers he is a Washington insider , we are in for real trouble. P.S. IF NOT THEIR ALREADY

  3. WM says:

    ++The Forest Service sent letters Monday to Omega Morgan and the Idaho Transportation Department making clear that the company’s megaload was not authorized to travel across national forest land or through the Clearwater-Lochsa Wild and Scenic River corridor.++

    What EXACTLY does the letter say? Is the letter precisely written to note that travel would be in violation of federal law, or does it use the same bureaucrateze language of the letter months ago that said the FS “could not support authorization at this time” without further study. It seems to me there is a difference.

    I also think there is a difference between what are “symbolic” perceived damages of sending the load on a legal hiway easement through the Nez Perce Reservation without permission and a Scenic (as opposed to Wild) River segment designated under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, AND what is ACTUAL damage both temporally (a few hours of inconvenience for travelers) and to the roadway itself (weight, if these things are heavy can be distributed on more and fatter tires to avoid damage to the road surface/bed). And, if I recall correctly whatever vegetation trimming, utility realignments or pullouts, I think have already been completed.

    Footnote: A Scenic or Recreational River as designated under the Act allows some of this trimming/utility alignment, etc., to a degree. I bet the DC lawyers on retainer for Omega and related contractors have researched the law, including the legislative history, and there is a memo addressing all this and more sitting on the desk of the suits that made the decision to go ahead with the move. I also think Supervisor Brazell’s “let’s study this some more from a social science perspective.” was evaluated against what is in the memo and the cost of delays. Just write the ticket if you have to officer. Asking forgiveness in this instance rather than permission is the expedient route, and may even have political backing at high levels. There is no way to stop this juggernaut.

    This has all the elements of a big business/big government vs. the little guy/tribe movie, written and directed by Ronnie Howard, and done in the early 1980’s, except the ending will be different.

    • WM says:

      Correction to above comment:

      The Middle Fork Clearwater and Selway River, designation is as a “Recreational” river for purposes of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. This is the lowest of the three designations (Wild, Scenic, Recreational), and allows for more flexibility in FS approval/permission of various activities within the designated corridor. A Recreational River already has roadways and railroads along its course at the time of designation, and those agencies responsible for that infrastructure apparently presume maintenance and improvements are permissible. It would seem there is an argument the FS through Supervisor Brazell would have the burden of showing why these expanded mega-load activities should not be permitted on a Recreation designated river. Distinction as among the three classifications is important here, as are how the corridor has been treated in any final (not draft) forest management plans.

      • WM says:

        Geez, Lochsa (not Selway, which is designated as Wild under the Act, but not on the mega-load route).

    • Immer Treue says:


      “This has all the elements of a big business/big government vs. the little guy/tribe movie, written and directed by Ronnie Howard, and done in the early 1980′s, except the ending will be different.”

      Same thing going on up here with all but set in stone proposed sulfide mining of copper, nickel, gold, palladium, platinum and a few others at the headwaters of the BWCA.

      $$$$ Makes the World go round.



August 2013


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey