People of Northwest Public Radio
Mon March 31, 2014
Oregon Railroad Defies State Order To Stop Work In Salmonberry River
The state of Oregon has ordered a company to stop rebuilding sections of the Port of Tillamook Bay railroad because it doesn't have a state permit. The company isn't stopping and says it doesn't need a state permit.
Many sections of the Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad washed into the Salmonberry River in a 2007 storm. The railroad has been out of commission since the washout.
The Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad used to carry passenger trains along the rail line. It leases the tracks from the port. And it recently started repairing damaged sections of the railroad.
Chris Knutsen is a fish biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. He says the company is doing work in the Salmonberry River without a permit while wild steelhead are spawning. The Oregon Department of State Lands has issued a cease and desist order to stop the work.
"The railroad has claimed that they had federal preemption status and they don't have to comply with state laws," says Knutsen.
The railroad company responded to the cease and desist order by filing a lawsuit in federal court.
The lawsuit asks the court to invalidate the state's order. It says under federal law, the company doesn't need a state permit to rebuild the railroad.
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