Peter Grubb, co-owner and operator of the Riverdance Lodge and ROW Adventures, a whitewater rafting and fishing outfitter, is the next witness called at this morning's contested case hearing on the 200-plus proposed megaloads that Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil wants to haul across U.S. Highway 12 in north-central Idaho. Grubb said he's been a Forest Service licensed outfitter on the Lochsa River there since 1984, and purchased the Riverdance Lodge property in 2002, opening it as a resort with eight custom log cabins, each with its own hot tub, in 2005. Between 1,200 and 2,000 people a year go on his company's outfitted river trips, Grubb testified.
Grubb said, “We made the largest tourism investment in Idaho County in at least 20 years when we built that lodge. … This was certainly the biggest financial gamble, risk that my wife and I ever took.” He said people come to his lodge because “it's a beautiful place, primarily.” Asked about the importance of Highway 12 to the business, he said, “Highway 12 is the lifeblood of our entire operation.”
He said his firm and three other river outfitters use turnouts along the highway to access the river, as do fishermen, other whitewater rafters, campers, hikers and others. “There's no way around these loads when they're on the road,” Grubb said. He said he has a permit to use turnouts along the route for his river outfitting trips, but the ITD's permit terms for the megaloads would allow the giant loads to pull off and sit in turnouts for as long as 24 hours, blocking them.