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Megaload fight headed to federal court

A court hearing that could decide the future use of U.S. Highway 12 by shippers of megaloads has been set for Aug. 27 before Judge B. Lynn Winmill in Boise.

Last week, the Nez Perce Tribe and Idaho Rivers United filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service for not stopping transport company Omega Morgan from hauling a 21-foot-wide, 255-foot-long, 644,000-pound evaporator across the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest via the twisting highway that also passes through the Middle Fork of the Clearwater-Lochsa Wild and Scenic River corridor.

The tribe and environmental group have asked Winmill to issue an emergency injunction that would compel the Forest Service to enforce its jurisdiction over megaload shipments across the forest and through the Wild and Scenic River corridor. Read more.

Any predictions as to the ultimate outcome?

Protesters Can’t Stop H12 Megaload

Nez Perce tribal police arrested and cited 19 people for disorderly conduct in connection with the protest of an oil refinery equipment shipment traveling via megaload truck through tribal lands. The truck resumed its journey along U.S. Highway 12 around 2:30 this morning after members of the Nez Perce Reservation and other activists attempted to halt its progress. Helen Yost, a spokeswoman of environmentalist group Wild Idaho Rising Tide that joined tribal members in their protest of the shipment, monitored activity on social media and through media reports. She also spoke with several protesters at the scene as they returned to their homes around 4 a.m. About three-quarters of the assembled protesters were tribal members, Yost said.  (Steve Hanks' Lewiston Tribune photo: Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee members (from right) Dan Kane, Albert Barros, Brooklyn Baptiste, Silas Whitman and Leotis McCormack take turns speaking at a protest of megaloads Monday night at the Clearwater River Casino)


No harm in hatchery salmon having wild time

FISHERIES — Recent reports from a new fisheries study goes against the grain of previous science by suggesting there's no harm in hatchery salmon spawning with wild salmon — at least not the first time.

See Columbia Basin Bulletin's detailed report.

Sacred Salmon Ceremony set for May 26

SALMON FISHING — Dorey boat fishing guides and elders of the Nez Perce Tribe will row around a big eddy on May 26 and pray for a safe return of spring chinook to the Salmon River during the 11th annual Sacred Salmon Ceremony and Friendship Feast near Riggins, Idaho.

The event will be based out of the Spring Bar Campground, 10 miles upstream from Riggins. The ceremony starts at 2 p.m. A circle ceremony will be followed by a potluck dinner, said Gary Lane, owner of Wapiti Outfitters.

By the way, the spring chinook are moving into the salmon on their upstream migration, with fish showing up in the Rapid River Hatchery traps.

Read on for details on the colorful Sacred Salmon event.

AP: Billion-dollar fed-tribal settlement includes three Idaho tribes…

The federal government has agreed to pay more than $1 billion to settle a series of lawsuits brought by American Indian tribes over mismanagement of tribal money and trust lands, resolving claims brought by 41 tribes from across the country to reclaim money lost in mismanaged accounts and from royalties for oil, gas, grazing and timber rights on tribal lands. The AP reports that negotiations continue on dozens of other cases. The settlement, announced today by the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. Department of the Interior, includes nearly $34 million for Idaho's Nez Perce Tribe. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Shannon Dininny in Yakima. According to a Justice Department news release, the 41 tribes covered by the settlement also included the Coeur d'Alene and Shoshone-Bannock Tribes in Idaho, and the Spokane Tribe in eastern Washington.

Coeur d'Alene Tribal Chairman Chief Allan spoke at the White House announcement today, and called the settlement long overdue; the Coeur d'Alenes will receive $18 million. “Today is a great day because it is a new day – a day when tribes across this nation can close the door on many wrongs of the past and open the door to a future of mutual respect and cooperation,” Allan said. He said the North Idaho tribe receives the money in exchange for dismissing its lawsuit against the United States to reclaim millions that were lost due to the federal government’s mismanagement of the tribe’s trust accounts and trust resources like timber, grazing and crop proceeds.


Two Idaho tribes get U.S. Justice Dept. grants for law enforcement, safety

The U.S. Justice Department has awarded $1.9 million in grants to the Coeur d'Alene Tribe and Nez Perce Tribe in Idaho to "enhance law enforcement practices and sustain crime prevention and intervention efforts." The grants are for eight specific aims: Public safety and community policing; methamphetamine enforcement; justice systems relating to alcohol and substance abuse; corrections and correctional alternatives; programs targeting violence against women; programs targeting elder abuse; juvenile justice; and tribal youth programs. U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson, who announced the grants today, said, "I am pleased to see such significant federal grant support to these two Idaho tribes. The U.S. Attorney's office is committed to working closely with and supporting public safety in Indian country." You can read the full announcement here.

Idaho chinook season to close Aug. 10

SALMON FISHING — The Idaho Department of Fish and Game will close the Chinook salmon season across Idaho on the evening of Wednesday Aug. 10 at the end of fishing hours.

The closure affects waters of the Mainstem Clearwater River, the Middle Fork Clearwater River, the South Fork Clearwater River, the Lochsa River, the Snake River downstream from Hells Canyon Dam, the Little Salmon River and the Upper Salmon River.

“This has been one of the longest Chinook seasons we’ve had in recent years,” said Pete Hassemer, Idaho Fish and Game’s salmon and steelhead manager. “By this time of year, most of the Chinook have passed through the areas open to fishing on their way to hatcheries and spawning grounds and the success rate is slowing down.”

“At one point we had Chinook salmon fisheries open in the Clearwater drainage, parts of the Snake River, lower and upper Salmon Rivers, the South Fork Salmon River and Little Salmon River, all at the same time.”

Some tribal fisheries will remain open and those fisheries are managed by the tribes.

Nez Perce Tribe: Bighorn collaborative killed by legislation

The Nez Perce Tribe today notified Gov. Butch Otter that, in light of new bighorn sheep legislation sponsored this year by sheep producer Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton, and signed into law by Otter, the tribe can no longer participate in the governor’s Idaho Bighorn/Domestic Sheep Collaborative. Samuel N. Penney, chairman of the tribal executive committee, said, “The Nez Perce Tribe is disappointed the state has suspended the collaborative process in favor of a legislated solution. We appreciated Governor Otter’s efforts to convene the Idaho Collaborative, but we are frustrated that Senator Siddoway’s legislation has undermined the Governor’s effort by legislating a political fix instead of allowing the collaborative process an opportunity to work.” He added, “Legislating wildlife management has never resulted in lasting solutions.”

Brooklyn Baptiste, vice chairman for the tribe, said, “I assume that Senator Siddoway did not see the value of collaborating with the Nez Perce Tribe or with Governor Otter to aid him in developing his legislation. As I understand it, Mr. Siddoway pushed this legislation through because he was concerned about the effects of introduced bighorn sheep in Hells Canyon on domestic sheep producers. However, his legislation doesn’t just target Hells Canyon. It protects all domestic sheep grazing at the expense of bighorn sheep in close proximity to their operations, including the Salmon River population, the last remnant native population in Idaho.”

Otter vetoed an earlier version of Siddoway’s legislation, but then accepted a modified version. He signed SB 1232a into law on May 7.