SEATTLE — A U.S. Supreme Court ruling Thursday that eroded longstanding water protections might have little effect in Washington because of the state's more stringent laws safeguarding wetlands, but it could have implications for endangered species and tribal lands.

In an opinion by Justice Samuel Alito, the court ruled that water protections apply to wetlands "indistinguishable" from nearby bodies of water and are only protected if they are close to a bigger waterway and wet enough that it's hard to determine where the water ends and the wetland begins.

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