Protect America's Environment: For Our Families, For Our Future
"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." - John Muir
"Hetch-Hetchy Valley," Sierra Club Bulletin, January 1908, page 220.
With these electrifying words, John Muir rallied support for preserving the aesthetic beauty and biological integrity of Hetch Hetchy Valley -- a place Muir compared most favorably to Yosemite itself.
Imagine having another place on Earth like Yosemite Valley. Imagine being able to walk among Hetch Hetchy's granite cliffs and waterfalls. Imagine being able to hear the "gurgle and splash" [Wallace Stegner's words] of the Tuolumne River again in Hetch Hetchy Valley.
John Muir died of a broken heart when Congress sealed the fate of Hetch Hetchy by approving the construction of a dam and reservoir there in 1914. In 1935, Hetch Hetchy Valley was inundated by O'Shaughnessy Reservoir, supplying water and electric power to the city of San Francisco.
In Muir's time, better locations could have been selected for water supply without destroying a pristine second-Yosemite in Yosemite National Park. Even today, other alternatives exist.
It is still not too late to think about restoring Hetch Hetchy Valley. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan's Secretary of the Interior, Donald Hodel, announced his support for the removal of the O'Shaughnessy Dam in Hetch Hetchy Valley. In the July/August 1997 edition of Sierra, editor Joan Hamilton stated: "Another of our fond hopes: removal of O'Shaughnessy Dam in Yosemite National Park to restore the magnificent Hetch Hetchy Valley." As David Brower wrote in his 1995 book, Let the Mountains Talk, Let the Rivers Run "Many dams on many rivers have been made unnecessary by new systems of energy generation and distribution. Let's take out those superfluous dams, beginning with Yosemite's Hetch Hetchy, which never should have been dammed."
The Sierra Club's California/Nevada Conservation Committee recently established a Hetch Hetchy Restoration Task Force to coordinate the Sierra Club's effort to RESTORE Hetch Hetchy Valley by removing the O'Shaughnessy Dam and Reservoir from Hetch Hetchy Valley. The Sierra Club's previous Hetch Hetchy Task Force, chaired by Sally Reid, was a national committee created by the Board of Directors, and responded to Secretary Hodel's proposal.
A campaign to eliminate the O'Shaughnessy Dam (a battle intimately part of the history of the Sierra Club and John Muir) still deserves attention today.
To learn more, visit the Restore Hetch Hetchy Home Page.
To get involved in the effort to restore Hetch Hetchy, contact the Hetch Hetchy Restoration Task Force Chair, Ron Good, at: firstname.lastname@example.org, P.O. Box 289, Yosemite, CA 95389-0289. Telephone: (209) 379-9334.