Seattle Times editorial: Honor treaties with Native Americans, restore salmon

The Seattle Times puts it pretty well this morning:

Fix it, pay for it, get it done. A federal judge is virtually that blunt in telling the state of Washington to repair culverts that block passage to salmon habitat.

U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez reminded the state it has a narrow and specific treaty-based duty to ensure Northwest tribes access to healthy fish runs.

“The Tribes and their individual members have been harmed economically, socially, educationally and culturally by the greatly reduced salmon harvests that have resulted from state-created or state-maintained fish-passage barriers,” Martinez wrote in his ruling.

The judge put the state departments of fish and wildlife and parks, which have done some work, on a path to fix culverts by 2016.

The state Department of Transportation has a 17-year timeline for an extensive to-do list.

Martinez said the state has the capacity to accelerate work because of expected growth in transportation revenues in years ahead. Separate budgeting for transportation and the general fund, the ruling notes, prevents harm to education and social programs.