Swinomish tribe and Skagit farmers settle dispute

Fidalgo, Island, Washington (AP) 12-08

The Swinomish tribe and Skagit County Diking District No. 22 have settled a legal dispute by agreeing to work to restore nearly 200 acres of estuary habitat critical for salmon.

A federal judge ruled in September that the district violated federal laws when it replaced several tidegates that blocked access for juvenile chinook salmon.

The tribe had asked the judge to let it negotiate a settlement rather than impose federal penalties.

Under the settlement announced Dec. 8, the tribe will waive its right to penalties and other remedies. The district in turn has agreed to advocate for the restoration of state land in the Skagit delta that is critical for chinook salmon in Puget Sound.

Tribal Chairman Brian Cladoosby says it’s a victory for salmon and farmers.

The environmental group Earthjustice negotiated the settlement for the tribe.