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Minidoka Coalition Files Protective Notice of Appeal

Interior of the Potato Barn, Minidoka National Historic Site, Jerome, Idaho

September 16, 2010 - Minidoka National Historic Site commemorates the Japanese American internment at the Minidoka Relocation Center during the Second World War. Located in Jerome, Idaho, in the remote high desert area north of the Snake River, the facility was in operation from 1942-45 as one of ten camps in which Japanese Americans were interned during World War II. Under provisions of President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, all persons of Japanese ancestry were excluded from the West Coast of the United States. Minidoka housed more than 9,000 Japanese Americans, predominantly from Oregon, Washington and Alaska.

The site was eventually listed in the National Register of Historic Places and was later established as a unit of the National Park System in 2001. Sadly, this vital historic resource is being threatened by a proposed large confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) facility just 1.2 miles from Minidoka.

Citing the proposed CAFO, in 2007, the National Trust for Historic Preservation listed the Minidoka National Historic Site (www.nps.gov/miin/) as one of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. We at Preservation Idaho, along with many other concerned citizens, believe the preservation of the Minidoka National Historic Site's cultural resources, national history, and its development into a visitor-friendly, relevant national park are being threatened by contaminates from the proposed CAFO. We are dedicated to fighting this threat and are therefore engaged in a legal review to stop the permitting of the CAFO facility. Following the latest judicial ruling, we need your help to continue this fight.

Please consider the investments that are being made by the Park Service and others at Minidoka and help keep the CAFO from severely contaminating the park and damaging the experience of its visitors. Minidoka’s story is too important to our nation’s history to allow visitors to be deterred by airborne pollution or safety issues. Please join us in the fight to preserve Minidoka.

The CAFO would introduce a heavy smell of feces to the entire site. A recent air quality study commissioned by the non-profit Friends of Minidoka (FOM) and the National Park Service found that the air quality would be a severe detriment to any visitor’s experience. In addition, soil and water pollutants are concerns with regard to the contamination of archaeological artifacts at Minidoka.

Original Fire Station, Minidoka National Historic Site, Jerome, Idaho

In 2008, Preservation Idaho partnered with several local and national organizations and neighboring families: Friends of Minidoka; the National Parks Conservation Association; the Japanese American Citizens League; Idaho Concerned Area Residents for the Environment (ICARE); Diamond and Sloan families (Minidoka’s neighbors); and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The coalition hired Charlie Tebbutt, formerly of the Western Environmental Law Center, and Pat Brown, a counselor in Twin Falls to spearhead its efforts.

Unfortunately, our multi-year battle of appealing the building permit for the CAFO was denied this August. Our lawyers believe we have a tremendous case for appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court. They assert that Judge Elgee took liberties with interpreting the law and events leading up to the permit acceptance.

Appeals are expensive. We need your help. Preservation Idaho is a non-profit grassroots organization with limited funds. To date, all of our funding for this endeavor has come from generous donors. The coalition anticipates future costs of the legal battle to be $34,000. Please consider contributing to this worthy cause.

All of us at Preservation Idaho are doing all we legally can to keep the CAFO from polluting the Minidoka National Historic Site. For more information or to donate to our legal fees go to www.minidoka.org/cafo.php.