It’s hard to view the recent actions of some big agricultural operations in California’s San Joaquin Valley as anything but hostile to the state’s wildlife. Some of the biggest growers are refusing to take an overflowing allotment of irrigation water as enough and are cluttering up the court system with lawsuits aimed at wringing every last drop of water for themselves, no matter what damage that causes native fish species.
What’s at Stake
In a case that lasted seven years, Earthjustice succeeded in maintaining Endangered Species Act protection for Central Valley steelhead.
Steelhead once returned from the ocean in the millions every year to the Sacramento and San Joaquin River systems in the Central Valley. Today, these fish have been lost from 95% of their historic habitat, and they continue to face threats from unchecked water use, blockage by dams, urban sprawl, and polluted rivers.
A group of irrigation districts filed suit to strip Endangered Species Act protections from steelhead trout that spawn in rivers that flow through the Central Valley in California.
Earthjustice represented fishing organizations and conservation groups trying to maintain the protections.