Monthly Archives: July 2018


Washington Water Watch: July 2018 Edition

In this issue, a recap on Celebrate Water, a tribute to former CELP Board President and Ralph W. Johnson Water Hero Award Nancy Rust, an update on the Culvert case, an introduction to CELP’s summer legal intern, Meredith Bro, and more. Read the July 2018 issue of Washington Water Watch here.

Join CELP at the Southwest Washington Fair!

Since 1909, the Southwest Washington fair in Chehalis has drawn crowds from all over the state to play, compete, eat, and learn. Whether you want to rock out to the all-female AC/DC cover band “Hells Belles,” test your luck on the carnival rides, feast on a variety of fried breads, admire the livestock and harvests from farmers all over Washington, or learn from a variety of informational and fun exhibits, we would love to see you there!

The fair runs from August 14 to 19, and CELP will be operating a booth in the exposition building Thursday, August 16 to Sunday, August 19. We will be talking with folks about protecting their water resources and building support behind establishing instream flows in Southwest Washington (more information on instream flows can be found under “water programs”). There are 11 free tickets available for anyone who would like to volunteer to come down and help with the booth, as well as parking passes and camping spots.

If you would like to help promote sustainable water management while also experiencing one of Washington’s most iconic gatherings, please email Nick Manning at nmanning@celp.org. We hope to see you there!


Culvert Case Update: A Victory for Tribal Treaty Rights

by Dan Von Seggern

On June 11, an equally divided United States Supreme Court affirmed the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in Washington v. United States (the “culvert case”). This long-running case, filed in 2001, involved fish passage-blocking culverts under roads owned by the State of Washington (or “the State”). The United States and a group of Indian Tribes filed suit seeking an injunction requiring the State to repair culverts under its control to restore access of fish, including salmon and steelhead, to more than 1,000 miles of upstream habitat. Restoring passage is expected to result in production of several hundred thousand more adult fish annually. This will be a significant boost for the State’s ailing salmon runs and for those who depend on the runs.

In 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Martinez found for the Tribes and ordered that the culverts be repaired. Judge Martinez held that the 1854-5 Stevens Treaties, by which the Tribes ceded vast amounts of land for settlement, would have been understood by the Tribes at the time as a guarantee that there would forever be salmon available to them. He further held that the fish-blocking culverts were an impermissible infringement on the Tribes’ treaty rights. The State appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed the decision.

The Supreme Court (without the participation of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who had been involved in an earlier aspect of the case) affirmed the decision without a written opinion. This decision means that the Order requiring the culverts be removed or repaired will stand and fish will again have access to the habitat which they need to recover and thrive. This decision is also a significant victory for Tribal treaty rights, in that the right to fish is now understood to include the right to habitat suitable for fish production.