A New Yosemite Emerges

by Mick Ryan Hetch Hetchy valley “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 John Muir called it”a wonderfully exact counterpart” of Yosemite Valley, and therefore “one of nature´s rarest and most precious mountain temples.” Like its neighbour Yosemite Valley, Hetch Hetchy was also sculpted by glaciers 10,000 years ago but in 1923 the O´Shaughnessy Dam was constructed and this valley flooded to provide water and power for San Francisco and the Bay area, but not without a fight. John Muir and the Sierra Club led a seven year struggle to stop the flooding of this beautiful valley but to no avail, until now.For the last 20 years various parties have supported the demolition of the O´Shaughnessy Dam and the reclamation of this valley to what Muir called a ´mountain temple´. This year however the California state government published a report of a study into the viability of restoring Hetch Hetchy and even Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has given his seal of approval on the project. It will cost nearly $1 billion to remove the dam and estimates vary into the exact cost of the reclamation of the valley itself which has been submerged for over 80 years but environmental scientists are optimistic it can be done. Various local and national environmental bodies, including Muir´s Sierra Club are mobilised and Ron Good, founder of Restore Hetch Hetchy, believes work could start on the project as soon as 2013. Sierra Club website and at Guardian Unlimited