WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court seems unlikely to allow Washington state to get out from under a court order to restore salmon habitat by removing barriers that block fish migration.
The justices heard arguments Wednesday in a long-running dispute that pits the state against Indian tribes and the federal government.
At issue is whether Washington state must fix or replace hundreds of culverts. Those are large pipes that allow streams to pass beneath roads but can block migrating salmon if they become clogged or if they’re too steep to navigate.
Twenty-one tribes and the federal government sued Washington in 2001, arguing that the pipes have caused a reduction in salmon. The tribes say they have been deprived of fishing rights guaranteed by treaty.
The state says the work could cost $2.4 billion.
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