Success and failure in Yosemite

Engineer William Mulholland, head of the Los Angeles Water Department, wanted to build a dam in Yosemite National Park's eponymous Yosemite Valley "from one side... to the other and stop the goddamned waste." 



William Mulholland

(As a concession to people who care about the natural world, Mulholland would have "carefully photographed" the valley first, so we would all know what had been destroyed.) Mulholland failed.  


MIchael O'Shaughnessy

Engineer Michael O'Shaughnessy, at the behest of city leaders in San Francisco, wanted to build a dam in Yosemite's Hetch Hetchy Valley. After a struggle that lasted more than two decades, San Francisco succeeded and O'Shaughnessy was able to build a dam that would flood Hetch Hetchy Valley.

Failure for Mulholland meant success for Yosemite, and success for O'Shaughnessy meant failure for Yosemite - so far. 


Yosemite National Park, and especially Yosemite Valley, are more popular than ever. During the first four months of 2015, visitors have come in record breaking numbers. If the trend holds, more than 4,000,000 people will visit Yosemite in 2015. 


Yogi Berra

Yosemite Valley can get pretty crowded indeed, especially during July and August. Apparently not everyone got Yogi Berra's memo which advised:"Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded."

A restored Hetch Hetchy will provide an alternative experience to that in Yosemite Valley - one that will draw visitors from throughout California, across America and around the world. 

We don't think of a restored Hetch Hetchy as a mechanism to reduce overcrowding in Yosemite Valley. 

When Hetch Hetchy is restored, there will an unprecedented opportunity for the American people to work with the National Park Service to determine how to manage the restoration process and visitation to the valley. There are sure to be different points of view, but we are confident that a plan can and will be developed that accommodates visitors and protects the valley's natural geologic features as well as its flora and fauna. 

Inspiring as it is to think about how a restored Hetch Hetchy would best serve the visiting public while protecting natural resources, we have a lawsuit to win first. Presently, we are waiting for a hearing on whether the case will be heard in Tuolumne County where it was filed, or in San Francisco. We hope to resolve this venue and other issues quickly and move forward with an evidentiary hearing.

Contributions to help with legal fees and expert witness costs are most welcome.