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The now-dry Colorado River delta branches into the Baja / Sonoran Desert, only 5 miles north of the Sea of Cortez, Mexico.

We’re less than a month in, but 2014 is already shaping up to be a tough year for rivers. Across the nation, from West Virginia to California, the headlines have been bleak. In the Rocky Mountain region, we’re gearing up for a long year defending the Colorado and San Pedro rivers.

Ten years ago, my family saw firsthand the power of the Endangered Species Act in action. We were backpacking in the Grand Canyon and a California condor soared overhead. The sheer size of his wingspan was awe-inspiring. As we rounded the next bend, there sat the condor at the side of the trail, a marvel to behold.

Two years ago, after a decades-long struggle that involved Native Americans, biologists, Earthjustice, and eventually Congress itself, engineers began to dismantle two century-old dams on the Elwha River on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state. The river is only 70 miles long, but most of it is in the Olympic National Park, and so is in pretty good shape, having avoided the fate of other Pacific Coast streams, that have been badly damaged by logging.

This is the time of year when Chinook salmon head back up the Klamath/Trinity River system to spawn—if they have abundant, cold water.

But this year—this week—powerful business interests are in court trying to seize that water, putting tens of thousands of salmon, and an entire generation of their offspring, in peril.

Here’s why:

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unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders. Learn more about Earthjustice.