What the Future Holds
If the State intends to correct all identified fish passage barriers by 2030, funding will need to be increased – for state-owned, private, and local barriers. Many of the state-owned fish passage barriers are upstream of locally owned barriers – making a coordinated state-local fish passage barrier removal effort essential to meeting the court’s injunction (Figure 1).
Washington State estimates the need for approximately $2.4 billion to correct hundreds of state-owned culverts by 2030 – or around $310 million per biennium. In the 2015-2017 Biennium, WSDOT spent $87.5 million on stand-alone fish passage projects. While a substantial increase over the previous biennium’s funding level of $27 million, it still falls far short of the funds needed to meet the court’s intent.
The County’s recently developed prioritization process and project list will help in pursuing additional funding over coming years. However, with around 160 local fish passage barrier culverts remaining, under current funding, and with a similar level of effort, it would take more than 60 - 80 years to address all the barriers – a conservative estimate given the list of barriers continues to grow.