The name “Hetch Hetchy” is derived from the name of a type of grass with edible seeds that is prevalent in that valley. As late as the 1850s, Mono Lake Paiutes were still freely gathering acorns, seeds, and roots in the valley, undisturbed by outsiders. Hetch Hetchy Valley was a great food source for the Mono Lake Paiutes. Other foods were hard to come by in the upper Tuolumne area.
Muir’s March will take place September 12-19, 2009, when 24 of the fittest and most dedicated hikers will journey from Tuolumne Meadows to O’Shaughnessy Dam to raise awareness, as well as funds, for the fight to restore Hetch Hetchy Valley. There are stringent requirements that must be met by hikers, but the rest of us can still be supportive by sponsoring a hiker. To find out more about the hike or how you can pledge your support, click here.
Photo taken by Andrew Thompson and assigned to public domain.
By 1867, the first valley survey was made by the California Geological Survey. This helped to establish the Tuolumne River as a fresh water source for San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake. John Muir, leader of the Sierra Club of that period, led the fight against creating a dam and flooding the Hetch Hetch Valley. Pro-dam arguments included a statement that the valley would be even more beautiful with a lake to complement the waterfalls and rugged valley walls. In 1913, the Raker Act put an end to the bickering, and the dam was completed in 1923.
Over the past several decades, there has been much constructive dialog about the merits of restoring the Hetch Hetchy Valley. All along, there have been Americans angry about constructing hydroelectric plants and dams on public lands. Since it has been determined that there are other sources than the Tuolumne River for San Francisco’s fresh water needs, restoration of Hetch Hetchy has been thrust forward.
While you consider whether you support the restoration and how deeply you may want to contribute to restoration efforts, enjoy the many beautiful photos of the Hetch Hetchy Valley before and after the dam. Every link below contains photos and/or maps of the area. Click here to learn more about the Mono Paiutes.