Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Another environmental crime
I wrote a while back about Los Angeles' theft of water from the Owens Valley a hundred years ago. Unfortunately San Francisco also had a darker side to its development and growth. After the 1906 earthquake, when much of the city burned in part due to lack of water, the city set out to secure a source of water and lighted on Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park. It is inconceivable today, but San Francisco managed to get a bill passed in Congress allowing them to dam the "other Yosemite Valley" and create a reservoir. Wrote John Muir: "I have always called it the 'Tuolomne Yosemite' for it is a wonderfully exact counterpart of the Merced Yosemite, not only in its sublime rocks and waterfalls, but in the gardens, groves and meadows of its flowery park-like floor." This valley was inundated with hundreds of feet of water and is still the source of drinking water for millions of people in the Bay Area. There has been a small movement to drain Hetch Hetchy and restore a second Yosemite Valley, but that is unlikely to gain general approval. Our visit included a short hike to massive Wapama Falls and lovely views of the surrounding cliffs.