Megaload lawsuit forces Idaho Rivers United to back out of Clearwater collaborative

Idaho Rivers United’s decision to sue the U.S. Forest Service to force it to used the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to stop megaloads along the Clearwater and Lochsa rivers has already cost them.

The Boise-based group, which just celebrated 20 years protecting Idaho’s rivers, suffered a setback in its efforts to expand the miles of rivers designed as a wild or scenic river. The lawsuit against its partner in the Clearwater Basin Collaborative angered other partners and it has stepped down temporarily from the widely represented group convened by Republican Sen. Mike Crapo to forge agreements on everything from logging to wilderness designations.

“I offered to step away from the group for six months or until the Forest Service lawsuit is resolved,” said Bill Sedivy, Idaho Rivers United executive director.

Sedivy had gone to the co-chairs of the Clearwater group seeking to put the megaload issue on the agenda. But Alex Irby, co-chair from Orofino, said the issue was too controversial for the group.

Sedivy’s group sent the Forest Service two letters and got no answer before it decided to go to court. Idaho Rivers says in the suit the agency violated the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act and other federal laws by allowing the Idaho Transportation Department to issue permits for hundreds shipments that temporary close the road through the Wild and Scenic corridor of the Clearwater and Lochsa rivers.

“It startled all of us,” said Irby, a retired timber mill executive who co-chairs the group with Dale Harris, a wilderness advocate from Montana.

A subcommittee of the Clearwater group had already approved proposing Wild and Scenic protection for several tributaries in the watershed. They had not yet gone to the full group for approval and realistically legislation generated from the group isn’t likely to go to Congress until 2012 at the earliest.

“At this point it’s going to make the discussion a little sticky about new Wild and Scenic rivers going forward,” Sedivy said.

He doesn’t apologize for filing the lawsuit. He believes the Forest Service has forsaken its duty to protect the river corridors that are among the most beautiful along a highway in the United States.

Instead of challenging ExxonMobil plans for 207 200-foot high and 24-foot wide shipments that will block the highway temporarily, the Forest Service cooperated with the state and authorized modifications to the right-of-way.

“We’re the river people and this is a special place," Sedivy said.

Crapo has developed a strong relationship with Idaho Rivers United and Sedivy. They were a partner in the Owyhee Initiative that resulted in a bill that protected wilderness, hundreds of miles of new Wild and Scenic river stretches and helped ranchers.

In 2003 when Idaho Rivers was joining the regional lawsuit against federal dams to protect endangered salmon, Crapo tried but failed to negotiate a deal between salmon advocates and Idaho water interests. But Crapo came back in 2009 and offered to host talks again with everything on the table including breaching dams, seeking a wider collaborative process.

He has become perhaps the strongest advocate in Congress for replacing the adversarial form of federal land management with a collaborative approach. The Clearwater Basin Collaborative serves as the best example.

So he was disappointed when he also learned of the lawsuit in news reports.

“It’s very hard to litigate at the same time you collaborate,” Crapo said.

Sedivy said he has since apologized to the Clearwater Collaborative for not giving telling them about the lawsuit before it was filed.

“If I had to do it all over again I would have,” he said.

1301601133 Megaload lawsuit forces Idaho Rivers United to back out of Clearwater collaborative Idaho Statesman Copyright 2014 Idaho Statesman . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Might not matter.

With the commishes in Missoula County finally waking up, seeing what MTD did when they approved the loads and now filing suit against them for it it'll just get more interesting. EM has got to see that this is just gonna get more and more spendy and do something else. Kinda like breaking the loads down for transportation on the Interstate which they're doing in Lewiston right now.


the some 60 loads which had been scheduled to be moved upriver to Lewiston have not moved but are slated to cross Washington via interstate highways and thus eliminating any use of US 12 as originally planned. Now that the dams are open and barging has resumed, it will be interesting if any of the stored transports at Lewiston return back down the river. The problems encountered by the 2 Conoco loads demonstrated US 12 was never designed, engineered and constructed for rolling roadblocks besides the Wild and Scenic Rivers federal designation was made for a reason and that reason did not incorporate rolling roadblocks.

All things environmental aside ....

It's just not possible to move these mega loads down HWY 12 like they wanted to. Physically it's a great challenge, and not even taking into account the Wild and Scenic River, it's just not feasible. Whoever said it could be done to begin with needs their head examined, or maybe their head needs to first be discovered, then examined.

Idaho Rivers United (IRU) does us a service,

by calling a spade a spade when the US Forest Service fails to defend premier, federally-protected Wild and Scenic Rivers like the Clearwater and Lochsa from huge, oversized, unnecessary industrial shipments.

There's no inconsistency in IRU's action, and no apology needed for taking strong action to defend the Clearwater & Lochsa. It might be considered inconsistent for IRU to continue "collaborating" over protection for new W&S rivers, at the same time the USFS is participating in the degradation of existing W&S rivers.

But a better analysis tells us that these two issues are apples and oranges. There's no reason at all why the USFS could not continue talking with ALL stakeholders, while their duties and responsibilities for W&S management are clarified in court.

It appears to me that some are just whining.

yes you are just whining

and so is this guy, He screwed over his partners and trust is hard to come by.

Nobody screwed anybody...

The Clearwater Group was asked to take-on the megaload issue, they refused.

thanks for the quote Rock.

The Rock writes:
Sedivy said he has since apologized to the Clearwater Collaborative for not giving telling them about the lawsuit before it was filed.

“If I had to do it all over again I would have,” he said.

Would have what?
I would have gone home?

If I had to apologize all over again I would have waited?
Tell them about the lawsuit?
File the lawsuit again anyway?

Rocky's Message

So what Rocky, the "journalist" who worships at the throne of collaboration, is saying here is that you better not get out of line or I'll write a story telling the world that you've lost the respect of anyone who might be inconvenienced by it.

Yes Rocky, we know that it's hard for you to accept that the courts exist for people or groups to be heard when those who won't listen to them should. It seems that you think that the collaborative process is the end all, be all and that stepping out of it's bounds are the ultimate sin. The problem lies in the fact that collaboration is just being used by industry etc to bypass the law and avoid using the best available science for many decisions.

You have confused the collaboration seen here and in many other processes with that being used in the Snake River salmon and steelhead issue which is overseen by a judge who doesn't allow the nonsense of political pressure and bad or nonexisting science.

Megaloads on the Clearwater

I, for one, am donating ASAP to Idaho Rivers United. You go, guys!!!!!!!!!!!