Protect Our Wild and Scenic Rivers from Big Oil

  • by: Sierra Club
  • target: USDA Undersecretary Robert Bonnie and USDA Deputy Undersecretary Butch Blazer
Tar sands mining is destroying the pristine boreal forest in Canada, but America's forests are being threatened by this exceptionally dirty source of oil as well.

For years, Big Oil has been working to spoil a scenic stretch of Highway 12 that twists through forests alongside the Clearwater and Lochsa Rivers in Idaho. Their goal: turn this Wild and Scenic River corridor into an industrialized "megaload" transport route to Alberta's tar sands.

Tell the U.S. Department of Agriculture to protect the Wild and Scenic Lochsa-Clearwater from industrialization by oil companies!
Dear Undersecretary Bonnie & Deputy Undersecretary Blazer,

October marks the 45th year the USDA has upheld the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, passed by Congress in 1968 to protect our pristine, scenic, and culturally and historically important river corridors. Since 1968, the USDA and the American people have wisely invested significant amounts of taxpayer money enhancing and protecting what are now 156 Wild and Scenic river corridors.

However, multinational oil corporations are now attempting to industrialize the corridor along the Lochsa and Clearwater Rivers in north central Idaho -- which were among the original eight rivers protected by the Wild and Scenic Rivers act -- by turning its single narrow and winding highway (U.S. Highway 12) into a megaload truck route to the Canadian tar sands in Alberta.

Oil corporations have proposed sending hundreds of massive transports -- which can be up to 29 feet wide, 29 feet tall, 250 feet long and weigh 650,000 pounds -- through this protected area. These slow-moving mountains of metal would travel in 15-20 vehicle convoys of bright lights and noise, disturbing the native wildlife and causing continuous rolling roadblocks for recreationists, travelers and emergency vehicles.

The U.S. Forest Service has publicly expressed opposition to megaloads, but failed -- until ordered by a Federal court -- to use USFS authority to close the road to these disruptive megaloads. Even now, while engaged in a study of megaload transport impacts, the USFS is challenging the court's order alongside a tar sands corporation.

The industrialization of two Wild and Scenic river corridors would disregard and weaken the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and put all 156 Wild and Scenic rivers at risk. Furthermore, the U.S. Forest Service will have abandoned its congressionally-mandated responsibility to protect the remarkable intrinsic values of Wild and Scenic river corridors.

[Your comments will go here]

I urge you to ensure that the USFS takes a proactive leadership role in permanently protecting these pristine Wild and Scenic rivers by closing the Lochsa-Clearwater U.S. Highway 12 corridor to all megaloads.

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