Saving salmon city-style: a double standard?

Commentary by Joel Kretz
Okanogan Farm Bureau


Last week the Seattle Times reported that a King County Superior Court judge threw out an initiative aimed at “daylighting” Seattle’s creeks.

The initiative was designed to improve salmon habitat in the creeks by “daylighting those that have been buried in drainage pipes, removing fish-passage barriers, banning pesticide use near creeks and not allowing development within a certain distance of creeks”.

The judge concluded that the initiative “would go far beyond restoring Seattle’s creeks and would have a sweeping effect on jobs and development in Seattle”.

He also concluded the measure would preclude “meaningful public participation”, didn’t use “best available science” and that it would likely not “do anything for salmon”.

The Municipal League concluded that the initiative “would place an unfair and potentially enormous burden” on owners of properties located “on or near historic creeks”.

The Times also reports that the initiative would have “violated constitutional rights”.

Strong language, and clearly illustrates a blatant double standard. In rural areas property owners are saddled with streamside buffers that are often several hundred feet wide, all for the “public good”.

But in Seattle you can bury your creek, pave it and spray pesticides over the whole thing.

Fish passage barriers, no problem. Wouldn’t be reasonable to restrict “jobs and development in Seattle”.

The solutions lie somewhere in the middle, balancing the legitimate needs of fish with the need to keep communities economically viable and avoid trampling the private property rights of the individual.

But the real issue is the need to apply whatever solutions are reached in a consistent and fair manner for both rural and urban landowners.

How far do you think a rural landowner would get by taking the position that buried creeks and fish-passage barriers wouldn’t impact salmon?

I guarantee taking that position that would get you somewhere, but I doubt that it would be a place you’d want to go.

In fact I doubt you’d even make it to the hoosegow. An enraged but “enlightened” mob of Seattelites would probably be looking for you with a long rope and an air of moral superiority.

Plenty of level places in Seattle to build the gallows, say a paved creek bed?


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