Supreme Court tie favors tribes, salmon recovery in Washington state

Sockeye salmon jumping up falls during the annual migration. Culverts, large pipes, can block this migration.

Vincent Schilling

Supreme Court holds in place a court order forcing Washington state to restore salmon habitats by removing barriers

The Supreme Court is leaving a court order as it stands that will force the state of Washington to remove barriers to salmon habitats. The culverts set in place by the state block fish migration.

The Supreme Court justices were divided in a 4-4 vote, that has put Washington state tribes and the state itself as well as the federal government. According to the Associated Press, Justice Anthony Kennedy stepped aside from the case because he participated in an earlier stage of it when he served on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The issue at hand is whether the state of Washington must fix culverts -- large pipes that allow waterways, yet block migrating salmon if they become blocked or clogged.

One estimate for the state claims repairs could go as high as $1.9 billion.

Stay tuned for updated coverage.

Comments (1)
No. 1-1

Working at the NCAI in 1989; I remember a current case against a native man in WA state because he'd fished, and I guess sold 2-3 fish... The 'barriers' tell a bigger story - and that by disrupting the NATURAL COURSE of nature, it not only has caused DAMAGE to the eco-system at large, but the economy (obviously) and more importantly ....a means and way to keep the NATIVES from enjoying a culture that they have enjoyed for thousands, hundreds of thousands of years in that area. It may be to the State of Washington's advantage to HIRE NATIVEs to monitor the culverts/streams for blockages; saving themselves a potential 1.9B in the process and making jobs ... sounds like WIN-WIN to me...