NWIFC Chairman Billy Frank Jr. surveys a state-owned culvert in need of replacement near the North Fork of the Nooksack River. The culvert on Department of Natural Resources land blocks salmon passage because it is too high above the stream bed.

NWIFC Chairman Billy Frank Jr. surveys a state-owned culvert in need of replacement near the North Fork of the Nooksack River. The culvert on Department of Natural Resources land blocks salmon passage because it is too high above the stream bed.

Tim Klass from the Associated Press covered the first day of trial to fashion a conclusion to the culvert case:

A federal judge should order Washington state to drastically increase the pace of fixing culverts that block salmon passage because nothing else will get the job done in a reasonable amount of time, a lawyer for Native American tribes said Tuesday.

John C. Sledd, representing nine of the 19 tribes in the case, asked U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez to order repairs to end salmon blockages caused by all state highway culverts within 20 years and those caused by culverts under the jurisdiction of other state agencies within six years.

Two tribal fisheries managers, Charlene Krise of the Squaxin Island reservation near Shelton and Lorraine Loomis of the Swinomish reservation near La Conner, told the judge their people have been hard-hit spiritually as well as economically by the depletion of salmon runs that is at least partly the result of bad culverts.