A Fight Over Salmon-Killing Roads Is Now A Supreme Court Case About Native Rights – KUOW

Well, it’s coming down to a Supreme Court showdown over how fast we have to replace the culverts, which have been proven to be keeping returning salmon from getting to spawning streams. This is part of 100 years or more of destruction of salmon habitat and the Tribes are pretty hard core about us getting this done sooner than later, given returning salmon numbers.

Seventeen years ago, 21 tribes sued the state of Washington to fix those culverts. On April 18, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to take on the case. The question is whether or not state taxpayers should have to dish out billions to dig up roads so salmon can get through. And the court’s decision will have repercussions for tribes all over the West and Midwest. Eilis O’Neill reports. (KUOW)


License to kill: how Washington may lose its right to wipe out salmon – Crosscut

Good to hear that the three judge panel is not buying the wildly overinflated State cost estimates.  The need to move forward and replace these culverts is critical. The Tribes are not buying the State’s argument either.

…. (The) 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has decided the state must do more toward fixing its hundreds of culverts. The court affirmed a lower court decision ordering the state to replace its worst salmon-killing culverts that block passage upstream for the fish. A unanimous three-judge panel held that the culverts violate federal treaties signed with Washington tribes. When the 9th Circuit ruled for the feds and tribes on appeal, it scathingly rejected the state’s arguments and even its math. For one thing, the court found the state’s cost estimates — running to $1.9 billion — were “dramatically overstated.” This case really goes back to issues raised nearly half a century ago, and its legal underpinnings stretch back more than a century before that.  Daniel Jack Chasan reports. (Crosscut)


Analysis on Federal Ruling Forcing Culvert Repair -NWIFC

Want to more fully understand last Friday’s landmark ruling that forces the State to accelerate it’s timetable for replacing fish-blocking culverts? Here’s a good place to start: Billy Frank Jr and Ron Allen comment for the NW Indian Fisheries Commission.

OLYMPIA – The state of Washington must fix fish-blocking culverts under state-owned roads because they violate tribal treaty rights, federal Judge Ricardo Martinez ruled on Friday, March 29.

“This is a historic day,” said Billy Frank Jr., Nisqually tribal member and chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. “This ruling isn’t only good for the resource, but for all of us who live here. It will result in more salmon for everyone. This is a great victory for all who have worked so hard to recover wild salmon.”

Read the whole article at:

Roundup of other culvert coverage:

How Logging and Agriculture Affect Water Quality – Earthfix Podcast

Podcast: The Next Act II – How Logging And Agriculture Affect Water Quality –

Good podcast on the issues related to the problems (all fixable) of logging and agriculture. This is an ongoing tug of war with those engaged in the both, vs. what needs to be done to allow the activities to continue with minimal if any harm to streams that provide us with salmon.


Puget Sound Chemistry Transformed by Climate Change and Runoff – Scientific American

Puget Sound is becoming more acidic thanks to a combination of agricultural runoff and rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere

A combination of carbon dioxide emitted by human activities and nutrient runoff is transforming the chemistry of Washington state’s Puget Sound, according to a new study.

Read the whole story at Scientific American:


-This threatens our entire shellfish industry, as well as other possible life forms. Runoff is one of the major causes, a reason that we value better shoreline management to slow or stop shoreline runoff. Also, stormwater runoff is another cause, which comes from roads with improperly created storm sewers.  Getting funding at the state level to correct these as quickly as possible is key.

While I have your attention: It may be a good time to review the map, commissioned by People For Puget Sound, done by the UW GIS group. It shows the exact locations of every one of the 4500 manmade storm sewers that empty to the Sound, along with 2123 natural drainages, and 297 DOT created drainages, including bridges.


Restoring Snyder Cove

What does it take to undo an old fashioned culvert keeping endangered salmon from going a mile or more upstream? Take a look at the three minute time lapse video from near Olympia, where a coalition of environmental organizations pushed for and achieved the reclaiming of a salmon stream. Now only a few thousand more to go!

Where’s Snyder Cove/Creek? If you use Google Earth, it’s here:

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