Trinity River Ranked as One of the Most Endangered Rivers in America

The Trinity River, a vital tributary of the Klamath River, has been ranked #7 on the list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2024 by American Rivers. The river faces threats from excessive water withdrawals and rising temperatures, endangering both the ecosystem and the communities relying on it.

With the removal of the Klamath River dams, efforts toward watershed-wide restoration have commenced. The Trinity River, renowned for its cold, clean water crucial for salmon, holds immense significance in this restoration endeavor.

“Rivers cannot be harvested for their parts and remain healthy, just like we can’t divert excessive volumes of blood from our body without experiencing systemic failure,” said Ann Willis, California Regional Director of American Rivers. “We need to stop thinking of the Trinity as a piped tributary to the Sacramento River and recognize that its natural value to the Klamath far exceeds any single Central Valley user’s benefit.”

The Trinity River serves as a lifeline for indigenous communities like the Hoopa and Yurok Tribes, providing essential resources for sustenance, ceremonies, and cultural heritage.

“Local people, especially the Hoopa and Yurok Tribal members, have been fighting for water to be released from the Trinity reservoirs for the Trinity and Klamath rivers for salmon generations,” said Regina Chichizola from Save California Salmon. “These fights led to real solutions like the Lower Klamath long term plan, which stopped large scale Klamath River fish kills, and Record of the Decision of the Trinity River, which restored some flows, but we still have no protections for our reservoir storage, or from new diversions on the Central Valley side or voluntary agreements. We need the Trinity River water to stay in the Trinity River if we are to restore the Klamath salmon and live up to the agreements to the Tribes.” 

The annual Most Endangered Rivers report highlights rivers facing critical decisions, with public influence crucial in shaping their future. The Trinity River’s inclusion shows the urgent need for sustainable water management practices to safeguard ecosystems and indigenous livelihoods.

Here is the full list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2024:

#1: Rivers of New Mexico – Threat: Loss of federal clean water protections

#2: Big Sunflower and Yazoo Rivers (MS) – Threat: Yazoo Pumps project threatens wetlands

#3: Duck River (TN) – Threat: Excessive water use

#4: Santa Cruz River (AZ, Mexico) – Threat: Water scarcity, climate change 

#5 Little Pee Dee River (NC, SC) – Threat: Harmful development, highway construction 

#6 Farmington River (CT, MA) – Threat: Hydro dam

#7: Trinity River (CA) – Threat: Outdated water management 

#8: Kobuk River (AK) – Threat: Road construction, mining 

#9 Tijuana River (CA, Mexico) – Threat: Pollution 

#10: Blackwater River (WV) – Threat: Highway development 

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