Tribes’ win to restore salmon habitat may go way beyond $1B in culvert repairs

Photo courtesy of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Photo courtesy of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Seattle Times reported that a federal judge has ordered culvert repairs to ensure tribes have fish to catch, as guaranteed by their treaty rights. The ruling could have broader impact on other types of development.

A long-awaited tribal fishing-rights decision by a federal judge means the state must immediately accelerate more than $1 billion in repairs to culverts that run beneath state roads and block access to some 1,000 miles of salmon habitat.

The ruling comes out of the landmark 1974 Boldt decision, which upheld the rights of tribes to fish, and could result in other court-ordered restoration work, according to tribal leaders and policy experts.

“This culvert case is a ringing of the bell, OK you got to wake up,” said Ron Allen, chairman of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe. “We have to protect and restore the environment while we continue to look creatively for ways to develop new job and industry opportunities.”

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