Under a mandate by a federal court, the state of Washington must fix or replace over 800 barriers under state roads that block migrating salmon.
After an injunction by federal Judge Ricardo Martinez citing the landmark 1974 Boldt decision, which acknowledged the rights of native Northwest tribes to catch fish, the state may have to fix an estimated 30-40 culverts, pipes, and steel structures a year until 2030. This potentially cost the state up to $2 billion.
Brian Cladoosby, chairman of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community was quoted as saying, "Tribes ceded the entire state of Washington to the federal government. In return, we asked that we have salmon forever."
Julie Henning, state Department of Fish and Wildlife habitat division manager, agrees with the ruling saying that the issue is "a big, big problem."
When the culverts are removed or widened, the effect can be immediate and widely beneficial. As large areas of streams are opened up, and flow improved, critical habitat upstream can again be accessed by migrating salmon during their fall run.
Without access to their primordial streams, salmon runs slow and fish numbers dwindle. Though the streams around the state flow through public and private lands, officials are working with all parties to rectify the problem.
Fish passage is really important work. We're not just doing it because of the lawsuit. It's something that needs to be done.
All photos via Yahoo News