following is a C&P of a article from the Olympian. Pretty much lays out the
issue on culvert repair mandated by the courts. This budget dance for the
coming biennium is going to be a dance for the ages!
you are driving on the freeway, returning from a long trip, longing with all
your heart just to be home. Suddenly you are forced to a complete stop because
the freeway is broken and you are facing a 10-foot cliff. There’s no way
forward, and as cars pile up behind you, no way back.
pretty close to what a salmon experiences when, returning to its native stream
from its long journey out to sea, it confronts an impassable culvert under a
highway. Every cell in its body is consumed by the desire to go upstream; that
is the life goal of every salmon. If it can’t go upstream to spawn, it can’t
perpetuate its species.
to the Washington Department of Transportation, there are 1,987 barriers to
fish passage in the state highway system. As of 2013, 285 fish passage projects
have unblocked 971 miles of potential upstream fish habitat. But a U. S.
District Court injunction has mandated that 1,014 more be corrected by 2030.
to correct culverts that block fish passage violates the treaty rights of
tribes whose way of life depends on healthy salmon runs. Treaties are, by
definition, the supreme law of the land. We like to think that the days of
breaking treaties with Indian tribes are in the past, but the sad fact is we’re
stilling doing it – and the result is the same as it has always been: broken
treaties threaten the survival of tribal culture and livelihood, as well as the
extinction of wild salmon.
repair is part of the state’s transportation budget – or would be, if the
legislature could muster the political will to actually pass a transportation
budget, which it has repeatedly failed to do. And even if and when a
transportation budget is passed, there will be intense pressure to put the
transportation needs of people ahead of the needs of fish and treaty rights.
Washington Department of Transportation estimates the cost of complying with
the federal court injunction – which applies only to tribes in Western
Washington – at $2.4 billion, or $310 million per biennium. In the current
biennium, they will spend $36 million. At this rate, it will take centuries,
not decades, to complete this work.
of WSDOT Lynn Peterson wryly describes the federal court injunction as
“Transportation’s McCleary decision,” a reference to the state Supreme Court
order for the Legislature to fully fund public education, even if it means
taking truly drastic action, such as closing down other state agencies. When a
federal court orders the state to do something – in this case, obey treaties –
the state surely ought to heed the injunction.
understand the Legislature’s dilemma. Voters hate taxes. Legislators like to
get re-elected. But when both state and federal courts rule that we’re not
meeting our obligations to the next generation of children or of salmon, it
ought to be a wake up call. Both legislators and voters must recognize that
it’s time to move beyond our own self-interest, and to do what’s right for our
children, the tribes, and the salmon.
Read more here: COURTS
Posted on Fri, August 22, 2014
by Dave Hamilton