A historic bid for limited boating at Hetch Hetchy Reservoir

A historic bid for limited boating at Hetch Hetchy Reservoir

San Francisco Chronicle, September 29, 2019


Today's San Francisco Chronicle includes a supportive full-page article on our request, submitted jointly with CalTrout, to allow environmentally friendly boating on Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. The article is authored Tom Stienstra, the Chronicle's award-winning outdoors writer, and is posted online.

As we explained three months ago, there are two principal reasons for supporting boat on the reservoir:

·     Boating will allow visitors to see the entire Hetch Hetchy canyon, as well as disembark to fish, climb, hike or picnic in locations that are presently inaccessible.

·     Second, boating will be a great educational tool in support of restoration. Visitors to Hetch Hetchy will have the opportunity to learn about the greatest destruction ever allowed in any of our national parks and the opportunity to bring the valley beneath back to life.

There was much response after we and CalTrout sent our initial proposal to Secretary Bernhardt and Mayor Breed. Most restoration supporters were enthusiastic. "Why didn't I think of this earlier? Why didn't you think of this? Why didn't any of us?", wrote one former board member.

A few supporters have, however, expressed the concern that allowing boating will create a constituency of people who like the reservoir, and will thus make restoration more difficult. We ask these people to bear mind that nobody will be water skiing or even bringing in their own boats. They will be taking a slow but wonderful ride in a concessionaire-run ferry or possibly renting a canoe or kayak. We are confident support for restoration will be increased - significantly.

There has been no official response from Interior. Stienstra, however, is among those who are optimistic. He wrote: "In my conversations with Zinke and Bernhardt, each were friendly, upbeat and emphasized that improving public access, reducing litter and enhancing the quality of experience at national parks in the future were priorities at the Department of the Interior."