Earthjustice: Because the earth needs a good lawyer.
Mineral King: The Foundation of Modern Environmental Law

Connected Ecosystems

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.

Earthjustice At Work, Featured Cases

River Protection

Cleaning Up Mercury
Protecting River Herring
Restoring the San Pedro River
Preserving Hawaiʻi's Public Waters
West Coast:
Protecting Salmon
More at

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:

See Also:

The Wild Future

Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen discusses how to manage and protect wild ecosystems in a warming world.

Photo of Trip Van Noppen.. > Watch Video Interview

Atop The King Of Wild Places

One summer, Sam Edmondson and Chris Jordan-Bloch backpacked through Mineral King. This is their story.

Closeup of Black Kaweah and Red Kaweah from Black Rock Pass in Mineral King Valley. > Read Feature

Hell Trail to Paradise

Read the behind-the-scenes story of the journey to gather the video and photo materials for this website.

Sam stocks up on water at the last stream they would see before heading up to the impassable summit. This river cut right through the rocky slopes that it scrambled down. It was a perfect high alpine stream.. > Get Behind the Scenes
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