Thursday, August 23, 2007

Salmon win road-crossing lawsuit

Why did the salmon cross the road? Because the road was in the way.

But now salmon have new hope for a better way to get upstream. A federal judge ruled yesterday that salmon-blocking roads are illegal and need to be fixed. The lawsuit was filed by tribes upset over a lack of salmon, and it focused on harm to salmon caused by roads that block streams.

Blockage comes in many forms, but the bottom line is that many roads were built without regard for the ability of salmon to swim upstream. In many cases culvert pipes under roads end high above streams, so high that salmon could never make the jump. It's not subtle.

This salmon victory is a major step forward in learning how to live with salmon. Now the state of Washington must get serious about fixing this well-known problem. Without the lawsuit it might have taken decades to a century to get the roads fixed.