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Hetch Hetchy Quotations 

"[Hetch Hetchy] valley, carved out of the Sierras by glaciers and the Tuolumne River, had become part of Yosemite National Park in 1890 and been designated a 'wilderness preserve.' . . . But as early as the 1880s, San Francisco's water board and politicians had discussed the possibility of constructing a dam at the narrow end of the Hetch Hetchy Valley, creating a much needed reservoir. [Gifford] Pinchot [head of the Forest Service] assured the secretary [of the Interior] that the dam would not 'injure the National Park or detract from its beauties or natural grandeur,' an assurance that amazed Muir. "I cannot believe that Pinchot, if he really knows the valley, has made any such statements," he wrote. . . ." Char Miller, Gifford Pinchot and the Making of Modern Environmentalism (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2001), pp. 138-139.
"Hetch Hetchy is a grand landscape garden, one of nature's rarest and most precious mountain temples. As in Yosemite, the sublime rocks of its walls seem to glow with life . . . while birds, bees, and butterflies help the river and waterfalls to stir all the air into music. . . . These temple destroyers, devotees of ravaging commercialism, seem to have a perfect contempt for Nature, and, instead of lifting their eyes to the God of the mountains, lift them to the Almighty Dollar. . . . 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, "The Yosemite," Century, 1912, pp. 249-62.
"On June 25 [1913] the House Committee on the Public Lands opened hearings on the Hetch Hetchy issue, with Gifford Pinchot as the star witness. Pinchot simplified the question into 'whether the advantage of leaving this valley in a state of nature is greater than using it for the benefit of the city of San Francisco.' He admitted that the idea of preserving wilderness appealed to him 'if nothing else were at stake,' but in this case the need of the city seemed 'overwhelming.' Explaining his reasoning, Pinchot declared that 'the fundamental principle of the whole conservation policy is that of use, to take every part of the land and its resources and put it to that use in which it will serve the most people.' Roderick Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind, rev. ed. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1973), pp. 170-171.
"With the passage of the Raker Act by Congress in 1913, the city of San Francisco won its long battle for a public water supply. The women of the conservation crusade had worked hard to preserve the valley as an integral part of the park. . . . Soon after a city of San Francisco referendum in November 1903 favored construction of the dam, John Muir had taken the Hetch Hetchy issue to the nation. Preservationists rallied to support its retention in the park through letters and telegrams to the House Committee on Public Lands which held hearings in January 1909. Among them were women who had camped in the valley, who were members of the Sierra Club or Appalachian Mountain Club, or who were opposed to the commercial use of such a scenic wonderland. . . ." Carolyn Merchant, "The Women of the Progressive Conservation Crusade, 1900-1915," in Kendall E. Bailes, ed., Environmental History: Critical Issues in Comparative Perspective (University Press of America, 1985) pp. 153-170.
"On Oct. 24, 1934, the first water from the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park poured into the Pulgas Water Temple near Interstate 280 on the San Francisco Peninsula. The giant system supplies water for San Francisco, San Mateo County, and parts of Santa Clara and Alameda counties and is the biggest water supplier in the Bay Area. . . . It is a 150 mile-long network of pipelines, tunnels, and aqueducts that takes water from the Tuolumne River in the Sierra down from the foothills, across the San Joaquin Valley, through the Coast Range and under San Francisco Bay, all by gravity. There are no pumps. . . . In January of 1934, Michael Maurice O'Shaughnessy [S. F. city engineer and architect of the dam], by then 70 years old, was on hand for the completion of the 28-mile Coast Range water tunnel, then the longest in the world. . . . Hetch Hetchy, the second largest municipal water system in the state and an engineering marvel, is his monument." Carl Nolte, "Hetch Hetchy at 60 is Still Causing Controversy," San Francisco Chronicle, October 27, 19994, ppl. A19, A24.
"There are two ironic footnotes to the Hetch Hetchy struggle. One is that despite the progressives' arguments for public power, the electricity from the Hetch Hetchy hydro plant was sold by San Francisco to PG&E [Pacific Gas & Electric], which still distributes it. The other footnotes dates from 1987, when President Reagan's secretary of the Interior, Donald Hodel, for reasons that are not entirely clear, astounded nearly everybody, including members of his own department, by suggesting removal of the dam at Hetch Hetchy and restoration of the valley to nature. The Sierra Club's directors, true to the Muir tradition, endorsed the proposal, well aware that it was not likely to be acted on in the near future, if ever." Harold Gilliam, "The Sierra Club's First Century," This World, San Francisco Chronicle, April, 19, 1992, pp. 11-12.