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Shut Out of Nez Perce Turf, Mega-Loads Rumble Through Montana

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Missoula, Montana has become the latest battleground against so-called mega-loads trundling gargantuan hunks of equipment destined for the oil sands of Alberta, Canada.

Three women were arrested over the weekend as about 80 protesters blocked the oilfield equipment on a street in the city just east of the Idaho border. Carol Marsh, Debbie Florence and Gail Gilman were protesting along with members of a group called Indian Peoples Action, Northern Rockies Rising Tide and the Blue Skies Campaign, the Missoulian reported on March 14.

“We are standing in solidarity with our cousins of the Nez Perce tribe, the Umatilla and the cousins to the north whose lives are being drastically affected by the destructive nature of the needless extraction of tar sands,” said Indian Peoples Action in a statement. “This is leaving the land uninhabitable and our people with no place to go.”

The Nez Perce fought successfully to keep the mega-loads from being transported along the more northerly scenic Highway 12, which runs 50 feet from their creation site. A federal judge ordered that route closed late last year, ending years of court battles and protest.

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The 750,000-pound (375-ton), 450-foot-long load of equipment was only delayed for about 20 minutes, the Missoulian said. It was scheduled to turn northeast from Missoula and then north, KBZK News reported.

The load was the third, and last, piece originating in the Port of Umatilla in Oregon, the Missoulian said. Members of the Umatilla Tribe have protested the loads’ transport through their territory as well.

RELATED: Umatilla Tribe Battles Mega-Loads Headed for Alberta Oil Sands