The Herald: Tribes, state will return to court over salmon

The Daily Herald of Everett reports on a future court date between the tribes and state to settle the Culvert Case:

“The tribes had an expectation that this would go to trial because we weren’t seeing the responses from the state like we thought we would,” said Terry Williams of the Tulalip Tribes, which is leading Western Washington tribes in a joint lawsuit against the state.

The dispute over how the state should manage the culverts it owns emerged from a 1974 federal court ruling known as the Boldt Decision, in which Judge George Boldt decided that tribes who signed treaties with the federal government in the mid-1800s are entitled to half the region’s fish harvest.

Since then, state and tribal leaders have sparred over what the decision means. The tribes in 2001 filed a lawsuit, technically a subproceeding of the Boldt Decision, over the thousands of broken culverts that block salmon. That lawsuit is known as the Culvert Case.

Federal Judge Ricardo Martinez in 2007 ruled that the state failed to fulfill its end of the treaties, including the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott that covers tribes in Snohomish County. Federal agents negotiated those treaties with Indian leaders, but the state must act on its behalf by managing culverts and other state property.