What is wrong with this picture?
Would we dam the Grand Canyon? Would we install a steam turbine at Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park to harness its geothermal energy? Would we clear cut the giant redwoods in Sequoia National Park? The answer to these questions is a resounding "NO!". Why then, ...
... do we permit San Francisco to continue its domination of Yosemite's Hetch Hetchy Valley at the exclusion of the public.
William Mulholland, the engineer who developed infrastructure to deliver Owens River water to Los Angeles, wanted to dam Yosemite Valley as well. If it were left up to him, he would have had Yosemite Valley carefully photographed and would then "build a dam from one side... to the other and stop the goddamned waste."
Yosemite Valley is popular year round with Americans and visitors from around the world, but less crowded during winter months (left). How Yosemite Valley would look if Mulholland had had his way (right).
Fortunately, Mulholland's view did not prevail. Today, Yosemite Valley continues to be protected and is one the most famous and desirable natural settings in the world.
Hetch Hetchy was not so lucky. In 1913, after a crusade of more than 20 years, San Francisco was permitted to clear cut, dam and flood Hetch Hetchy Valley. It was the only time in American history that such destruction has been allowed in any of our national parks.
Hetch Hetchy Valley before and after the O'Shaughnessy Dam was built.
"For over one hundred years the Hetch Hetchy Valley of Yosemite National Park has known neither summer nor winter, nor the breath of spring nor autumns' sigh. A wall stands between the valley and its seasons, and a greater wall stands between our good intentions and our willingness to change mistakes of the past".
We want San Francisco to continue to rely on the Tuolumne River for most of its water supply -- but we do not believe that its water should be stored in a national park, and especially not in an iconic glacier-carved valley in Yosemite.
On April 21, 2015, Restore Hetch Hetchy sued San Francisco - alleging that the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir violates the California Constitution. We won the first round - that the trial be held in Tuolumne County where the damage has been done. We are looking forward to getting past legal preliminaries and presenting evidence that Hetch Hetchy is worth more as a valley than it is as a reservoir.
Thanks to our donors, we have a solid foundation of support that has enabled us to file this legal challenge. However, we will need additional financial support to see this case to its conclusion. Please contribute what you can.
It is time to make Yosemite National Park whole once again.
Images: Grant Poznick