Monday, October 15, 2012

FORGET IT, IT'S CHINATOWN . . . the loss of the gorgeous Hetch Hetchy Valley forever

There used to be two separate Yosemites. The above composite photo circa 1900 depicts the Hetch Hetchy Valley that was flooded under waters to a level of half way up those majestic mountains and waterfalls, drowned by the O'Shaughnessy Dam built in the 1920s. Southern California was not the only water pirate in our state's history: this one is entirely the infamy of Northern California. 

Hetch Hetchy Valley by Albert Bierstadt, oil on canvas, some time before 1902

John Muir, who considered this valley even more beautiful than Yosemite, and his nascent Sierra Club fought the municipal project for seven years and lost, as did we all. Dammed and damned (my headline refers to another water rights squabble ending badly in the film Chinatown.) Click the top photo to see a panoramic enlargement of the full, beauteous valley floor.

 Multiple waterfalls visible in John Muir's photograph
Post script: San Francisco voted against planning even to consider restoration of the Hetch Hetchy Valley in their November 2012 civic elections despite many proposed, realistic plans on file that would retain the exact same amount of S.F. civic water. Too bad for our entire planet that S.F. still called the shots on an entire park that was, after all, inside actual Federal, not State, lands.

Below, beginning the destruction with clear cutting of the entire forest... 

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