Saturday, April 4, 2009

Snow Plant: Hetch Hetchy Before and After, Flooding Yosemite With Visitors

Here's Hetch Hetchy valley, near Yosemite valley, before it was flooded in the mid-1920s:

And here's Hetch Hetchy valley after it was flooded to create a reservoir of water for California:

It's filled by the Tuolume river. Naturalist and environmentalist John Muir fought mightily against the filling of this extraordinary valley as a water resource. The guardians of Yosemite lost this battle.

From "Hetch Hetchy Valley" entry in Wikipedia -

"In 1906, after a major earthquake, San Francisco applied to the United States Department of the Interior to gain water rights to Hetch Hetchy. This provoked a seven-year environmental struggle with the environmental group Sierra Club, led by John Muir. Muir observed:

Dam Hetch Hetchy! As well dam for water-tanks the people's cathedrals and churches, for no holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart of man. [3]

Proponents of the dam replied that the valley would be even more beautiful with a lake. Muir predicted (correctly) that this lake would deposit an unsightly ring around its perimeter, which would be visible at low water. Because the valley was within Yosemite National Park, an act of Congress was needed to start the project. The federal government ended the dispute in 1913, with the passage of the Raker Act, which permitted flooding of the valley.

Construction of the dam was finished in 1923. Water from the dam serves 2.4 million Californians in San Francisco, San Mateo, and Alameda Counties, as well as some communities in the San Joaquin Valley, and generates electricity for San Francisco. Environmental groups (including the Sierra Club) advocate removing the dam.

For more information on the controversial history of the dam and reservoir, see the O'Shaughnessy Dam article."

Here's John Muir writing about Hetch Hetchy -

I wonder how to plan for, say, the next 200 years ahead in California and on the West Coast to 'control' development, and modernity, in kind of Taoist ways.

{Hetch Hetchy is the Miwok word for a grass that's found there}.

And Yosemite is now flooded with visitors, and it might be fun to walk into the Hetch Hetchy backcountry ...

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