Insult On Top Of Injury: Protecting The Minidoka Internment National Monument

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Aerial view of Minidoka during WWII (

This is just insane to me - but let me catch you up to speed.

Last month the Jerome County Board of Commissioners in Idaho approved an application for a business which is referred to as a CAFO, or a confined animal feeding operation, for a 13,000 animal dairy/feedlot.

That in itself isn't a big deal - but think about it for a moment too - a 13,00 animal dairy - that's a lot feces, stench, and noise.

And while there has to be businesses like this (no one's disputing that) guess where the newly approved CAFO is slated to be put?

1.2 miles away from the Minidoka Internment National Monument site which was the largest of the 10 detention camps used during WWII, was designated as a National Historic Site earlier this year by Congress, sees thousands of visitors a year, and in May, a bill was signed by Bush for the monument to be refurbished and added too.

They can't find any other place to put this? They have to put it next to a National Historic Site which is used to teach people about Japanese internment?

Why not just put portapotties on Mt. Rushmore and call it day?


If you don't think people voiced their opposition - they did - but because of a law that says only those within 1 mile of a proposed feedlot have a legal say to offer information or an opinion about it - that left anyone from the Minidoka Interment National Monument about .2 miles out of the technical process.

But they thought people would still listen, so they were shocked when the CAFO got approved:

The decision to approve the confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) stunned many former Minidoka internees and descendants who have long opposed the facility fearing odor, waste management and airborne pathogens.

"Friends of Minidoka is very disappointed," said Momohara. "We support agriculture ... but the feedlot is in the wrong location." [...]

"It is shameful that politics were more important than community welfare in the Jerome County decision to approve the feedlot," said JACL National Director Floyd Mori. "It is clear that the commissioners turned a deaf ear to the Minidoka community. While on one hand they have given lip service to the historical and tourist importance of Minidoka, they are allowing a contamination of the actual site itself as well as the spirit of the basic purpose of this national monument." [...]

Friends of Minidoka - a national organization working to preserve Minidoka's legacy - will continue to work with preservation groups and local residents to determine what their next legal step will be [...]
Lawsuit Filed

As of yesterday, October 22nd, a lawsuit has been filed to prevent the massive animal feedlot from being built near the historic site including the Japanese American Citizens League, Preservation Idaho, Idaho Concerned Area Residents for the Environment, the Idaho Rural Council and several local families:

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is part of a coalition of groups and individuals that filed suit Tuesday in 5th District Court, seeking to stop the planned 13,000-animal dairy.

"It doesn't make any sense," said Charlie Tebbutt, an attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center, which represents the groups. "It's a lot like putting a hazardous waste facility next to a hospital." [...]

The groups also allege the commissioners violated their own zoning ordinances by approving the feedlot.

"I think it's unfortunate that we had to file this petition," said the chairwoman of the Friends of Minidoka, Emily Momohara, noting two of her grandparents and two great-grandparents were held at the internment camp. "But we are dedicated to preserving Minidoka."

The groups also contend that commissioners didn't fully consider the negative effect on the monument that could be produced by the feedlot, called a confined-animal feeding operation, or CAFO.

"It will severely detract from the monument and the desire of people to go to a place that is full of foul odors and flies and other potential pollution," said Tebbutt. "In Idaho, the laws are not fully developed or fully enforced when it comes to the CAFO industry."
That's Rich

And what did one of the commissioners who approved the feedlot have to say on the issue?

Commissioner Charlie Howell, who voted to approve the feedlot both times, said he expected the lawsuit.

"It's quite ironic that the people who had their rights taken away and who were put in that internment camp are now trying to take away the rights of people who live near the site," Howell said.
I wonder if Howell would say the same thing about anyone from the Jewish community if this was a Holocaust site or museum?

Give Some Support

Here are some places to check in with to see if you can help out (general list right now):