Lorraine Loomis, chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, wrote in the Seattle Times that the clock is ticking to save salmon from being killed every year by bad culverts:

The state argues that the treaties do not explicitly prohibit barrier culverts. But treaty rights don’t depend on fine print, they depend on what our ancestors were told and understood when the treaties were signed. They would never have understood or agreed that they were signing away the ability of salmon to get upstream.

 

The state claims that fixing its culverts is a waste because there are other barriers on the same streams and other habitat problems that need attention. But state biologists testified that passage barriers must be removed if salmon are to recover. State culverts are often located on the lower reaches of the rivers, and are the key to restoring whole watersheds.

How big is this culvert problem really? While this particular lawsuit only covers culverts under state-owned roads (ignoring thousands of city, county and privately owned culverts), the problem is pervasive across western Washington. The state Department of Transportation maintains a database of culverts that need to be fixed. These culverts are everywhere.

You can explore the map here.

Central Sound:

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Western Snohomish County:

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