Rivers like the Kaweah, which runs through Mineral King, are part of a mighty set throughout California that foster fish populations and provide drinking water to millions of people.
Close to their source, they flow unimpeded, providing sustenance to natural and human communities alike. But further down, many are choked by dams, with grave impact to fish, or threatened by toxic pollution.
Across the United States, mercury contamination is widespread in our nation's streams, wetlands, reservoirs and lakes. Even tiny amounts of mercury lead to toxic levels in fish and can cause neurological and developmental problems in people who eat fish. Earthjustice has made fish from our rivers and oceans safer to eat through legal pressure, forcing some of the nation's biggest mercury polluters—power plants, cement kilns and incinerators—to cut their mercury emissions.
Atlantic (sea) herring, river herring and shad are critical components of the ocean and coastal ecosystem, providing a significant source of food for a variety of fish, birds and mammals. Since 1985, there has been more than a 90 percent decline in river herring populations, according to recent data. Earthjustice and fishermen and river herring advocates are challenging the government for failing to protect the fish from New England's industrial Atlantic herring fishery.
Flowing north from Mexico to Arizona, the San Pedro is one of the Earth's most biologically diverse ecosystems. Nevertheless, the river is drying up due to unsustainable sprawl and groundwater pumping. In 2011, a federal judge rejected a "legally flawed" plan by the government on the grounds that it failed to properly analyze groundwater pumping's effect on imperiled wildlife species. Earthjustice has provided legal services on this issue since 2002.
Water in Hawaiʻi is a public trust resource, but for years plantations diverted many Hawaiian streams to water sugar cane and pineapple fields, drying out and destroying the native life and Hawaiian communities connected with those streams. Now that plantations are in decline, the water can be restored to the native streams. Earthjustice, representing community groups, is working in the courts to uphold the public trust and stop wasteful water diversions.
In 1994, California's winter run king salmon were protected under the Endangered Species Act, making it the first fish given ESA protections. Earthjustice went on to win ESA protection for two dozen other West Coast salmon species by gaining increased water releases from West Coast dams; guaranteeing minimum flows in the Klamath; compelling removal of a salmon-killing Oregon dam; forcing emergency measures to rescue salmon in the Sacramento River; and gaining protection for California's Garcia River.
… And More: From dam removal on Washington's Elwha River to algae outbreaks in Florida's waterways, visit our website to learn about the diversity and breadth of Earthjustice's work to protect river systems: earthjustice.org