Tribes again head to court over fish-blocking culverts and treaty rights

Tribal leaders and lawyers gathered in Seattle on Friday to argue to the federal appeals court that opening salmon habitat is ensured under by federal treaty. Here is some media coverage of the day’s events.

King 5:

“All of the fishing tribes of the Northwest are spiritually linked to our resources and harvest of the resources,” said Timothy Ballew. “It defines us as a people.”

Ballew and other tribal leaders packed the federal appeals courtroom. They want to make sure judges uphold a verdict they fought hard to win.


“It’s been a struggle, but we’re not going to give up on the fish,” Ballew said.

Hundreds of culverts across the state serve as fish spawning obstacle courses. The state must repair 800 of them, but they need to quadruple their pace to meet a deadline of 2030.

The Seattle Times:

A court ruling requiring billions of dollars in repairs to state road culverts hangs in the balance after oral arguments Friday before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Seattle.


The 2013 injunction by U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo Martinez required the state to repair hundreds of state-owned, fish-blocking culverts over 15 years at a cost of $2.4 billion. That decision was appealed by the state of Washington.

You can watch the entire oral arguments below:

Turtle Talk has done a great job over the year’s documenting the legal back and forth in this case. You can find the original 2007 decision here and the 2013 injunction now under argument here.