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Coeur d'Alene Tribe of Idaho

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A group of northern Idaho landowners - Citizens Against Rails to Trails - filed a petition with the federal Surface Transportation Board July 21 to halt conversion of 71 miles of contaminated railroad right of way into a recreational trail from Plummer to Mullan. The trail plan was reached after years of negotiation between the railroad, the state, the tribe and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The trail would be co-managed by the tribe and the state Department of Parks and Recreation. A federal court must approve the project which would absolve Union Pacific Railroad of most of the contamination caused by hauling ore from Silver Valley mines. The plan calls for covering the central part of the right of way with an asphalt strip or, within the reservation, removing contaminated soil. Signs would warns users to stay on the asphalt or risk exposure to lead and other toxic metals. Property owners want the railroad to clean up the right of way and turn the property over to them. Construction was scheduled to start the week of July 24 at Mullan. Federal taxpayers will help pay for the $20 million-plus recreation area.

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