Attorney general appeals ruling on culvert fixes for fish

Published:

 

OLYMPIA — Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson is appealing a federal ruling ordering the state fix culverts that block salmon passages.

The state on Tuesday filed a notice of appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on the March 29 U.S. District Court ruling by Judge Ricardo S. Martinez that set up a timeline to fix hundreds of culverts around the state.

“The state remains committed to doing more to address fish passage barriers and will continue to do so as resources permit. The implications of the case, however, stretch beyond culverts. Issues of this magnitude deserve full and thoughtful appellate review,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson in a statement.

State officials have said the ruling could cost billions of dollars — money the state doesn’t have. The Martinez ruling is part of a decades-old legal battle tied to treaties dating back to the mid-1800s. Tribes say the state has blocked salmon passage and contributed to the decline of fish harvests.

Martinez ordered the state to fix approximately 180 culverts on recreational lands by 2016 and more than 800 culverts under the Department of Transportation by 2030.