US Supreme Court: Washington must remove barriers to salmon migration

Photo: Melissa Erkel, a fish-passage biologist with the Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, looks at a culvert along the north fork of Newaukum Creek near Enumclaw, Wash., on June 22, 2015. (Ted S. Warren / AP)

A tie 4-4 vote by the high court upholds a lower-court decision ordering barriers to salmon migration be removed, ending a bitter decades-old controversy.

A 17-year legal battle over salmon recovery efforts in Washington has ended with the U.S. Supreme Court leaving in place a lower court order that forces state government to foot the bill for removing culverts that block fish migration.

The victory for 21 Washington tribes with treaty-protected fishing rights resulted from the justices splitting 4-4 Monday. Justice Anthony Kennedy stepped aside from hearing the case because he participated in an earlier stage of the proceedings when he served on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided court,” said the brief statement released by the Supreme Court. At issue is whether Washington state must fix or replace hundreds of culverts. Those are structures that allow streams to pass beneath roads and railroads but can block migrating salmon if they become […]

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US Supreme Court: Washington must remove barriers to salmon migration
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US Supreme Court: Washington must remove barriers to salmon migration
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Washington state must fix or replace 100s of culverts that allow streams to pass beneath roads and railroads but can block migrating salmon and other fish.
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The Seattle Times
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