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sierra club policy on hetch hetchy


AS ADOPTED BY THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS

27 September 1987

HETCH HETCHY AND THE GRAND CANYON OF THE TUOLUMNE

In 1907, a committee of Directors of the Sierra Club (authorized by the full Board and chaired by John Muir) adopted a detailed Sierra Club policy statement about the reservation of the Hetch Hetchy Valley, within Yosemite National Park.

Muir and his colleagues found Hetch Hetchy to be "a counterpart to Yosemite [Valley] and a great and wonderful feature of the Park, only next to Yosemite [Valley] in beauty, grandeur, and importance..."

Having walked there -- and no one has since 1923 -- these Directors said "the floor of Hetch Hetchy, like that of Yosemite [Valley] is a beautiful landscape park diversified by magnificent groves, gardens, and flowery meadows in charming combinations especially adapted for pleasure-camping..."

Of the then-threat of the damming of the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, the Directors said "no greater damage could be done to the great National Park, excepting the damming of Yosemite [Valley] itself..." The committee put the Sierra Club on record as "opposed to the use of Hetch Hereby Valley as a reservoir site ..."


That Hetch Hetchy was dammed, after passage of the Raker Act in 1913, was an event of profound impact on the Sierra Club and the nation's then - young conservation movement.

That this wild, superlative National Park canyon would be forever dammed is unthinkable. Rectifying this disastrous error of the past and allowing the forces of nature to restore the "magnificent groves, gardens, and flowery meadows" of Hetch Hetchy, would be the act of a wiser, more sober society, proving itself better aware of the true values of wilderness, and exhibiting a clearer vision of the needs of the future.

Therefore, the Board of Directors of the Sierra Club, meeting early 90 years after the Hetch Hetchy battle erupted, reaffirms the commitment of the Sierra Club to continue its battle for Hetch Hetchy, remembering the words William Colby wrote to Gifford Pinchot in 1909:

"Let me assure you that we have only begun fight, and we are not going to rest until we have established the principle 'that our National parks shall be hold forever inviolate,' and until we have demonstrated to the satisfaction of every one, including yourself, that the American people stand for that principle. We are going to keep up the good fight without fear or favor, 'if it shall take until doomsday.'


Policy Resolution

The Sierra Club reaffirms its policy adopted in 1907 and 1910, and continues its historic and fundamental opposition to the damming of the Tuloumne River in Yosemite National Park, We welcome initiatives toward the restoration of the free-flowing Tuolumne River and Hetch Hetchy Valley.

Specifically --

  • We urge Secretary of the Interior Donald P. Hodel to undertake immediately a feasibility study leading to a recommendation for draining Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and restoring Hetch Hetchy Valley.
  • We call upon all interests to take an open-minded, long view of this issue, and to study and assess alternatives to meeting their needs and concerns through alternative sources of water, power and revenue.
  • Acknowledging our many and serious disagreements with Secretary Hodel and with this Administration, we salute this initiative, but call upon Secretary Hodel to demonstrate the seriousness of his public proposal by assuring that a feasibility study (funded by discretionary fund already available to him within the Department of the Interior) is concluded, and his official recommendation made, within the term of this Administration in office. We pledge our cooperation in this effort."


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For information about this website, e-mail: harold.wood@sierraclub.org


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