Tribes win federal suit against state over salmon

SEATTLE – Indians will have a much greater role in deciding how and where the state and other governments build culverts that impede salmon migration, following a federal court ruling Wednesday siding with the Tulalips and many other Washington tribes.

In their federal lawsuit, the tribes said that state and local government has an obligation under the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliot to protect salmon habitat by not hindering fish passage with narrow or blocking culverts.

“This is a clear step for the tribes to enter into discussions with the state in terms of the impact to our tribal culture,” Tulalip fisheries commissioner Terry Williams said this afternoon.

The tribes alleged in their lawsuit that fish don’t have access to 249 miles of streams that they should have, preventing the production of potentially 200,000 fish for tribal harvest.

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