US District Court Judge Orders Washington Highway Culverts Opened for Fish Passage
Federal district court Judge Ricardo Martinez has issued a permanent injunction requiring the Washington State Department of Transportation (“WSDOT”), the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, and the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission to remove barriers to fish passage in hundreds of state-highway culverts over the next 17 years. The March 29 decision (“Culvert case”) is the latest in a legal case dating back to the 1970s, in which Native American tribes in Washington state have sought to enforce their treaty fishing rights. While the decision does not apply to county roads or other barriers that might exist, it provides important guidance for future actions that could broaden the ruling’s application beyond state-owned highway culverts.
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