Tied U.S. Supreme Court decision means Washington must remove barriers to salmon migration -Various publications

This is huge.  The question is, “where will the money come from?”  Something is going to have to give from the State budget. Will it be social services? Environmental protections? Or will the State raise gas taxes to fund the work? But to be clear, if we want to save salmon runs from extinction, along with the resident orcas, we will have to continue to do costly work to protect our natural resources. There is not much time left for them, given a warming planet.

The U.S. Supreme Court is leaving in place a lower court order that forces Washington state to restore salmon habitat by removing barriers that block fish migration. The justices split 4-4 Monday in the long-running dispute that pitted the state against Indian tribes and the federal government. The tie means that a lower-court ruling in favor of the tribes will stand. Justice Anthony Kennedy stepped aside from the case because he participated in an earlier stage of it when he served on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals…. At issue is whether Washington state must fix or replace hundreds of culverts. Those are large pipes that allow streams to pass beneath roads but can block migrating salmon if they become clogged or if they’re too steep to navigate. Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times) See also: Will the state learn from another loss on tribal fishing rights?  Daniel Jack Chasan reports. (Crosscut)

Tied U.S. Supreme Court decision means Washington must remove barriers to salmon migration

State money to fix salmon blocking culverts falls far short – Seattle Times

Our legislators have again short changed legally mandated environmental funding. This one is for a critical but largely unseen problem that affects salmon spawning habitat, culverts. We likely will be fixing this through the end of the century, if global warming hasn’t wiped them out of the range.

A federal judge has told the state that it must find a way to come up with $2.4 billion to repair culverts that are barriers to migrating salmon.


State appeals demand for culvert work – News Tribune

There’s not much more to this story on line at this point. However, the back story here is that the State *is* replacing culverts, but not in an organized way to accelerate the process to make sure that it’s done quickly enough to try and reverse the downward trending numbers of wild fish. The Tribes, led by Billie Frank Jr and the NW Indian Fisheries Commission, want the process sped up. So it’s been in court, and the courts agreed with the Tribes. The State has to speed this process up in a planned way. Last fall, at the NW Straits annual conference, Billie Frank Jr. talked about his trips to Washington D.C. to meet the President and the Congress. His feeling was that “everybody is saying how concerned they are about restoring the fish, but that no one is in charge. So that means we’re in charge.”

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson is appealing a federal ruling ordering the state to fix culverts that block salmon passages. The state on Tuesday filed a notice of appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals of the March 29 U.S. District Court ruling by Judge Ricardo S. Martinez that set up a timeline to fix hundreds of culverts around the state. State officials have said the ruling could cost billions of dollars — money the state doesn’t have. The Martinez ruling is part of a decades-old legal battle tied to treaties dating back to the mid-1800s. Tribes say the state has blocked salmon passage and contributed to the decline of fish harvests.


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