More money might not speed salmon culvert fixes

By Tim Klass
Seattle, Washington (AP) 11-09

A Washington state transportation official has testified that more money would not speed up the process for fixing culverts that block migrating salmon.

Paul J. Wagner, environmental services biology branch manager in the state Transportation Department, told U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez that it takes about four years from scoping to replace a salmon-blocking culvert. Scoping is the process of determining which actions, impacts and concerns will be addressed in a project.

Wagner says more money would mean more projects could be scoped and contracts awarded, but the overall process would still take about four years to complete for each culvert.

He testified in an action brought by 19 Native American tribes that want the judge to order faster repairs to salmon-blocking culverts in Washington state.