Yosemite's Hetch Hetchy brochure - room for improvement

"the utter absurdity" that damming Hetch Hetchy "would exclude from its watershed tourists and campers, now or in the future, or lessen the pleasure ."

San Francisco's Freeman Report (1912)



Rangers at the kiosk at the Hetch Hetchy entrance to Yosemite National Park collect fees, just as they do at the park's other entrance stations. They also write down the license plates of all cars that pass (for "security" reasons) - something not deemed necessary at other entrances.

Visitors also receive a special brochure (page 1, page 2) when they pass the Hetch Hetchy entrance. It provides a small amount of history about the conflict over Hetch Hetchy, as well as useful information about the area. But the brochure also sugarcoats what has taken place and misleads visitors about available recreation:

·     The brochure states "the Hetch Hetchy Valley is a treasure worth visiting in all seasons". It would be more accurate to say "the Hetch Hetchy area is a treasure worth visiting in all seasons". It is not possible to visit Hetch Hetchy Valley - it is under 300 feet of water.

·     "Visitors have easy access to a vast wilderness filled with high country lakes streams and wildlife." The gate at Hetch Hetchy closes each day, and there is camping only for those beginning or ending a backpacking trip. So access is not particularly "easy" or convenient.

·     Snowy winter days give adventuresome visitors a chance to explore on skis or snowshoes." The Hetch Hetchy entrance tends to close when it snows - for "safety" reasons of course.

·     "In 1906, an earthquake and fire devastated San Francisco, adding urgency and public sympathy to the search for an adequate water supply." There is little doubt that the earthquake and fire played a huge political role in the ultimate decision to allow a dam in Yosemite. San Francisco had ample supplies in its Bay Area reservoirs, but broken pipes within the City rendered it unable to fight the fire. Why does the National Park Service perpetuate the myth that it was a lack of water supply that allowed the fire to burn?

·     "Boating" is prohibited "in order to protect a clean source of drinking water". Boating is allowed on municipal reservoirs throughout the state and is not prohibited by the Raker Act. Moreover, San Francisco promoted boating as recreation which would be allowed if it were permitted to build the dam. Once the dam was built, the City quickly changed its mind and the National Park Service acquiesced.

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The American public lost twice

when Congress allowed Hetch Hetchy Valley to be dammed. First we lost the valley. Second, our access to the Tuolumne watershed - at least its lower reaches - was largely taken away as well.

 

Restore Hetch Hetchy believes the water supply function of Hetch Hetchy reservoir can and should be replaced. We also believe that, as long as the reservoir is in place, the National Park Service needs to provide better visitor opportunities in the Hetch Hetchy area.