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UPDATE 10:50 P.M.: Lawsuit filed to stop megaload; big rig enters protected river corridor

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Posted: Thursday, August 8, 2013 9:56 am

UPDATE 10:50 P.M.: Carloads of protesters are driving up and down U.S. Highway 12 in an attempt to slow down the Omega Morgan megaload.

Protesters have said their goal for the night is to keep the big rig from reaching Montana. The load had made its way to the Wilderness Gateway campground by 10:30 p.m.

UPDATE 9:30 P.M.: The Omega Morgan megaload has moved by a group of protesters at Syringa and is headed upriver toward Lowell on U.S. Highway 12.

Protesters did little to stop the load as it started its journey. Bill Sedivy with Idaho Rivers United, who served the lawsuit on the rig's driver, called the situation "lackluster" after the megaload passed by. Sedivy pledged to follow the equipment upstream.

Additional protests are expected at Lowell.

UPDATE 8:55 P.M.: Idaho Rivers United and the Nez Perce Tribe have filed suit in federal court to stop a megaload from continuing its journey through the Lochsa Wild and Scenic River Corridor on U.S. Highway 12.

About 50 or 60 protesters have gathered at Syringa to protest the load, which is scheduled to begin moving at around 9 p.m.

The Omega Morgan load is in the process of starting its nightly journey despite the lawsuit filing.

ORIGINAL STORY: A controversial megaload entered the Middle Fork of the Clearwater/Lochsa Wild and Scenic River Corridor early this morning and is now parked at Syringa.

Officials with the Idaho Transportation Department said on Wednesday that the load, being transported by Omega Morgan, would attempt to make it to Kooskia and stop there before proceeding into the protected river corridor and the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest.

The load was followed by protesters as it left Orofino and proceeded to Syringa without stopping to let traffic pass. According to the ITD permit, the shipment is required to pull over every 15 minutes to let traffic pass.

The Nez Perce Tribe plans to file legal action today attempting to stop the shipment. A coalition of environmental groups had planned to hold a rally tonight near the Wild and Scenic River boundary. Kevin Lewis of Idaho Rivers United said the location of the rally would likely be moved upriver.

Forest Supervisor Rick Brazell said he and other Forest Service officials will meet with officials from ITD and Gov. C.L. (Butch) Otter’s office Aug. 16 to discuss megaload permitting.

Brazell said he still holds out hope that a resolution to the disagreement between the state and federal agency over megaload permitting can be reached through discussions. But he said his agency has not ruled out future legal action.

“If we can’t get anything resolved through our discussion that is always an option,” he said. “We have always had that as an option but we keep thinking we are going to be able to get the state to work with us and the (Federal Highway Administration) to do the permits with federal review.”

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