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Eye On Boise

Nez Perce Tribe raps ITD’s proposed Highway 12 megaload rules; notes ongoing injunction, mediation

The Nez Perce Tribe has issued a statement sharply critical of the Idaho Transportation Department’s proposed rulemaking on megaloads in the scenic Highway 12 corridor in North-Central Idaho, saying the move was inappropriate, mediation is ongoing as part of a lawsuit that banned such shipments in 2013, and that ITD “made no effort to contact the Nez Perce Tribe” before proposing the rule. “At a minimum, ITD’s proposed rule is at this time ineffectual,” the tribe said.

Here’s is the tribe’s full statement:

Nez Perce Tribe is committed to preventing the Clearwater and Lochsa River from becoming an Industrial Corridor

Lapwai, ID – The Nez Perce Tribe opposes the Clearwater and Lochsa River corridor becoming an industrial corridor. The Tribe has repeatedly made this known. The Tribe peacefully protested mega-load traffic in 2013 and simultaneously pursued a successful action in federal court enjoining mega-load traffic from the wild and scenic corridor of U.S. Highway 12 within the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest. The injunction issued by Judge Winmill in 2013 remains in place until the U.S. Forest Service completes an impact study and consults on a government-to-government basis with the Nez Perce Tribe.

ITD’s proposed rule is no different from the agency’s position prior to the 2013 federal court injunction. It does not alter the reality that the legal issues at stake are federal in nature, are the subject of a federal court lawsuit that resulted in a federal court injunction, and are subject to ongoing federal court mediation. At a minimum, ITD’s proposed rule is at this time ineffectual.

ITD made no effort to contact the Nez Perce Tribe or the U.S. Forest Service before unilaterally proposing this rule. The Forest Service, the Tribe, and Idaho Rivers United are engaged in mediation under the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ mediation program. The Forest Service, the Tribe, and ITD – which was invited into the mediation in 2015 – are all bound by confidentiality from disclosing those discussions. However, the Tribe strongly disagrees with ITD’s characterization of the mediation in its FAQ accompanying this rulemaking.

The Tribe is committed to continuing to protect the Clearwater-Lochsa river corridor and to working with the U.S. Forest Service and others regardless whether ITD chooses to do so or not.

The Tribe will not comment at ITD’s hearing on the proposed rule. It will submit comments on the proposed rulemaking in writing by October 14. 

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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