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Posts published in “Day: March 10, 2011”

Another approach

The megaload shipments across northern Idaho on Highway 12 are going to be a never-ending source of conflict (even after they're over, the prospect of more will persist). Some of those could punch out in unexpected directions. So this new U.S. District Court filing, today, will be interesting.

The plaintiff is Idaho Rivers United, which is not surprising, but the defendant is a little unexpected: The U.S. Forest Service.

From the complaint (evidently not yet available online), here's the core issue:

"Specifically, IRU challenges the U.S. Forest Service’s determination that, because the Forest Service previously granted an easement to the Idaho Transportation Department to maintain and operate U.S. Highway 12 across the Clearwater National Forest, it lacks jurisdiction or authority to enforce federal laws within the corridor, as set forth in a September 2010 final decision by the Clearwater National Forest Supervisor. IRU also challenges the Forest Service’s refusal to enforce the terms of the easement and other federal laws to prevent expanding the uses of Highway 12 to include the transport of “mega-loads” beginning in 2011 and continuing into the future. Contrary to the Forest Service’s position, the agency not only retains jurisdiction and authority over the Highway 12 right-of-way, but also has a mandatory duty to enforce applicable federal laws and regulations — including the Highway Easement Deed, the Forest Service’s regulations, and the Clearwater Forest Plan — in order to “protect and enhance” the outstandingly remarkable values of the Middle Fork Clearwater/Lochsa Wild and Scenic River corridor."

In other words, the argument is that the Forest Service is abrogating its responsibility by not taking a role in the mega-load situation.

The outcome of this could have implications far afield from the megaload issue.