The Supreme Court, in a 4-4 deadlock, let stand a lower court’s order that the state of Washington make billions of dollars worth of repairs to roads, where the state had built culverts below road channels and structures in a way that prevented salmon from swimming through and reaching their spawning grounds, that had damaged the state’s salmon habitats and contributed to population loss. The case involved the Stevens Treaties, a series of agreements in 1854-55, in which tribes in Washington State gave up millions of acres of land in exchange for “the right to take fish.” Implicit in the treaties, courts would later rule, was a guarantee that there would be enough fish for the tribes to harvest. Destroying the habitat reduces the population and thus violates these treaties. This decision directly affects the Swinomish Tribe (“A Victory For A Tribe That’s Lost Its Salmon” by John Eligon, The New York Times, June 12, 2018).

Back to Timeline

You may also like