Monday, April 1, 2013

Federal Judge Rules on Expediting Removal of Culverts and Other Passage Barriers

The state of Washington has 17 years to remove or replace all of the culverts blocking salmon passage in the state.

In a landmark decision last week US District Judge Ricardo Martinez sided with the the 21 Treaty Tribes of Western Washington in ruling that the failure of the state to provide passage violated treaty rights. The state spent $23 million on culvert removal and repair in 2011, but that's far short of the $1.9 billion the state department of transportation previously estimated it would take to repair all of the impassable culverts in Western Washington.

Fish biologists have estimated that culvert removal in Western Washington could restore access for anadromous fish to more than 1000 miles of habitat. Culvert removal is particularly beneficial to coho salmon which return to freshwater anytime from September to January and often use small tributaries for spawning and rearing, but culvert removal would potentially benefit steelhead, sea-run cutthroat and other species as well.

Thanks to our friends at the Wild Fish Conservancy for bringing this story to our attention.

More information in the Kitsap Sun:

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