The Skagit Valley Herald editorializes on a plan to streamline permits for tide gate repairs:
The reality is that the tidegates impede salmon trying to navigate the labyrinth of delta sloughs, streamlets and marshes in their way between upriver spawning grounds and the ocean.
Furthermore, large segments of the estuarine habitat that fish need to strengthen themselves before heading out to sea have been diked and drained over the past several decades for farming.
The plan developed by the Western Washington Agricultural Association and the state and federal agencies after two years of patient, plodding discussions is good for fish and farms. It would allow for a streamlined permitting process through which drainage districts can make quick repairs to tidegates when the need arises.
Significantly, it would also provide for the return of some 2,700 acres of private and public delta lands to estuarine conditions. No private land would be expropriated. But officials hope that delta farmers will see the wisdom of cooperation to make the plan work.
It is a plan that deserves public support. Without it, the future of agriculture in the Skagit Valley will be fought through the courts for years to come, to no certain end.
Farms and fish can live together.