Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, Washington

Author:
Updated:
Original:

A plan to protect fish, timber and wildlife in the city's Cedar River watershed is under legal attack from the tribe. In a complaint filed recently in King County Superior Court, the tribe said the state Ecology Department overstepped its authority by approving the city's 50-year plan, which governs water rights and regulates stream flows. A lawyer for the agency, said state officials agreed not to impose new stream-flow requirements as "the trade-off for the city agreeing to provide certain (minimum) flows in the river" to aid dwindling salmon runs. The Muckleshoots and some environmental organizations have questioned whether the proposed stream flows are adequate. City officials say the plan would preserve 90,500 acres and protect 83 species of fish and wildlife in the river basin, the source of water for 60 percent of Seattle's 1.3 million city and suburban water customers. If the court invalidates state commitments under the agreement, the plan would be unaffected but the state agency might be less likely to go along with future Cedar River watershed management decisions. The tribe could sue to block federal permits for the habitat plan. A lawyer for the tribe said May 29, the lawsuit against Ecology is "only one component of the tribe's concern with the habitat conservation plan."