Adoption of I-976 would cut habitat work to save orcas

Passage of Initiative 976, reducing car tabs to $30 would cause radical cuts to transportation funding and further endanger the health of our struggling Southern Resident Puget Sound orcas.

I-976 fiscal impact statement estimates a loss of $4 billion over six years to state, county and city transportation. This includes funding for road and ferry maintenance/upgrades.

These budgets include culvert repairs, habitat corrections and ferry upgrades to cleaner, quieter hybrid-electric technology both of which affect the health of the Sound and our orcas.

Reduced salmon numbers, marine vessel noise and pollutants are linked to the state of our transportation infrastructure.

Our orcas are suffering from lack of food, specifically chinook salmon, trauma from marine vessel noise and road/vessel pollutants. National and state orca task forces report steadily declining numbers. Just today another Southern Resident orca was listed as missing.

To increase salmon populations, the U.S. Supreme Court obligated Washington state to fix or replace hundreds of culverts that block fish passage and impede critical salmon migration. The state Department of Transportation has 992 remaining fish passage barriers on state highways to correct. Local governments relying on license tab fees have 4,400 culvert fish blockages to repair.

Even before I-976 there was a significant funding gaps for the correction of fish barriers and vessel noise/pollution.

If I-976 becomes law, it is one more nail in the coffin of our iconic and beloved Southern Resident killer whales. Is that what you want?

Karen Hart

Snohomish

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