The Trinity River
Trinity River, California
See C-WIN's Trinity River Press Room here.
Byron Leydecker, founder of Friends of Trinity River passed away peacefully with his family on May 12, 2011. You can see our tribute to Byron and Friends of Trinity River here.
The Trinity River is the largest tributary of the Klamath River, which drains from Northern California and Southern Oregon. The Trinity joins the Klamath at Weitchpec about 44 miles upstream of the Pacific Ocean. With its headwaters deep within the remote and rugged Trinity Alps of northwestern California in Trinity County, the Trinity drains a complex network of more than 1,600 miles of tributaries that comprise the 2965 square mile Trinity River watershed. Historically, the Trinity River produced abundant populations of Chinook and Coho salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and lamprey that fed Native Americans for thousands of years. Old timers used to talk about walking across the Trinity River on the backs of salmon. Historically, the Klamath-Trinity rivers produced the third largest run of salmon in the lower 48 states, behind only the Columbia and Sacramento-San Joaquin rivers.
The Hoopa Valley Tribe's homeland is in Humboldt County along the banks of the lower Trinity River in the Hoopa Valley. The Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation is the largest Indian reservation in California at 144 square miles. The river is central to Hupa culture, society, economy, and language. The Trinity River is also important to the Yurok Tribe. The Yurok Tribe’s reservation extends from the Pacific Ocean along the lower Klamath River and into the Trinity River Basin. The Yurok Tribe has always depended on the fish, water and other resources of the Trinity and Klamath Rivers. Numerous court rulings have established that an important “Indian purpose” behind creation of the Hoopa Valley and Yurok reservations was to reserve the right to take fish from the Trinity and Klamath Rivers, rights that were confirmed as part of the 1988 Hoopa-Yurok Settlement Act. Federal courts have also recognized that sufficient water is reserved to achieve the purposes of Indian reservations and that the tribal right to the water for fish dates back to “time immemorial.”
The Trinity River watershed generates an average annual water runoff of approximately 1,250,000 acre-feet at Lewiston. Since completion of the Trinity and Lewiston Dams in 1963 by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, as much as 90 percent of the Trinity’s flow at Lewiston has been diverted from the Trinity River Basin to the Sacramento River and the federal Central Valley Project for hydropower production and delivery to irrigation districts primarily in the western San Joaquin Valley. Fish populations in the Trinity Basin immediately plummeted to extremely low levels as a result of the flow reductions from the dams combined with historic mining, excessive erosion from poor land use practices on sensitive soils, and overfishing.
Chinook salmon Trinity River
Since the mid 1990’s Friends of Trinity River has worked to “revive the once premier Trinity River, its entire ecosystem, and the economies of the Trinity River Basin and North Coast of California.” However, Friends of Trinity River Chairman Byron Leydecker recently announced his retirement and the closure of the non-profit organization. In addition, Tom Weseloh, former regional manager of California Trout took a job working for Assemblyman Wes Chesbro and as a result had to resign from the Federal Advisory Committee the Trinity Adaptive Management Working Group.
The result is a gap in the ability of fisheries and environmental advocates to reform and participate in the Trinity River Restoration Program (TRRP). Problems have arisen within the Trinity River Restoration Program and there is still a need for active participation by fisheries advocates. C-WIN has been designated by the FOTR Board of Directors as the beneficiary of any remaining FOTR funds. C-WIN and FOTR Board member Tom Stokely will fill in the gap left by the closure of FOTR.
The links below will provide you with the history and current status of the Trinity River Restoration Program, information about FOTR’s accomplishments, as well as C-WIN’s Trinity River Work Program and information about the Trinity River.