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Protests Slow Megaload
A human blockade continues to slow progress for Omega-Morgan as they attempt to haul a 225 foot long load of oil equipment through the Wild and Scenic Corridor of Idaho. Protestors led by members of the Nez Perce Tribe have come out in droves to show their displeasure of this massive shipment moving across U.S. Highway 12.
No major injuries have been sustained as a result of the protest, although several protestors have been arrested and will face fines as large as $500. Protestors have tried to block the road, but Idaho State police have ordered them to “Get off the road.” They continue to walk next to the megaload as it moves slowly, barely faster than a walk and sometimes almost at a standstill.
Police vehicles led the way for the shipment and more State Police vehicles followed as protestors and other travelers were caught behind the crawling big rig.
“This is a sad day for Idaho,” said Idaho Rivers United Executive Director Bill Sedivy. “The Nez Perce Tribe has done an excellent job protesting this load’s shipment across the reservation, and now the load has entered public land and the Wild and Scenic River Corridor. This is a clear violation of the U.S. Forest Service’s order denying shipment across public land. We are consulting with our attorneys … and plan to proceed to protect the tribe’s homeland and our Wild and Scenic Rivers.”
Olga Haley, an Omega Morgan spokeswoman, said on Monday, “They’re fully permitted, that’s all I know. It’s the most efficient route.” Omega-Morgan presses on into tribal lands and arrived in Orofino early Wednesday morning, at least a day behind schedule.
This route bypasses routes to Canada that would constrain oversized loads with overpasses. However, this route follows alongside the Middle Fork of the Clearwater River which is protected by the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act of 1968.
U.S. Senator Mike Crapo has heard the concerns of the Nez Perce Tribe and deliberated with the Forest Service. “My understanding is that the Forest Service is engaging in consultation and moving forward with evaluations as the Tribe has requested,” said Idaho Senator Mike Crapo.
“We would not stop anybody from protesting,” said Idaho State Police Captain Lonnie Richardson. “But there comes a point in time when we have to allow the free and safe movement of all vehicles traveling on the highway, which includes the megaload.”