Federal court injunction for fish passage

Learn about the federal court injunction for fish passage on this page.

Court injunction affected area in highlighted portion

Map of Washington state showing court injunction affected area highlighted.

WSDOT has been working for many years to remove fish passage barriers. Twenty-one northwest Washington tribes asked the U.S. District Court to find that the state of Washington has a treaty-based duty to preserve fish runs, and sought to compel the state to repair or replace culverts that impede salmon migration.

The court ruled in favor of the tribes and declared that the right of taking fish, secured to the tribes in the Stevens Treaties, imposes a duty upon the state to refrain from building or operating culverts under state-maintained roads that hinder fish passage and thereby reduce the number of fish that would otherwise be available for tribal harvest.

The court further declared that the state of Washington currently owns and operates culverts that violate this duty.

A federal court injunction, issued March 2013, requires the state to significantly increase the effort for removing state-owned culverts that block habitat for salmon and steelhead by 2030.

The U.S. District Court injunction affects:

  • Washington State Department of Transportation
  • Washington State Department of Natural Resources
  • Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission

WSDOT has 1,002* culverts that apply to this injunction, with 818* of them having significant habitat.
* These numbers are subject to change as new information is collected regarding these culverts.

The injunction will require the state to maintain and monitor culverts for fish passage.

14 fish passage projects were completed in 2020

improving access to 54.2 miles of upstream habitat.

11,959 incidents responded to

by WSDOT’s incident Response teams during second quarter of 2021, 15% more than same quarter in 2020.

41 Pre-existing Funds Projects Advertised

during the eighth quarter of the 2019-2021 biennium.