Picture: Sunset light on the peaks above Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, Yosemite National Park, California
One of my photographer friends, Guy Tal, posted on his blog, er… web journal, yesterday that he was perhaps one of the last people to ride the photographic coat tails of Ken Burns’ recent PBS documentary film series on the National Parks.
So as to not be the only photographer left who hasn’t made a post on the subject, here’s mine:
I thought the film was great. But as I watched it, one scene stuck out for me more than most others, in part because of my current book project on California’s history. They presented an archival photo of Hetch Hetchy Valley, that was widely considered to be the ‘little sister’ of Yosemite Valley. Last week I was at Hetch Hetchy to photography the reservoir for my book. I also hope to use the same archival shot to show what now lies submerged beneath the water.
As I walked across the dam, that archival image was etched into my brain. It was all I could do to look out over this body of water, and think to myself that what laid before me was done to feed the thirst of a city, San Francisco. It was that thirst, the need for water by a rapidly growing population, that brought men to dam and flood this beautiful haven.
There continues to be a strong environmental push to undam the lake and restore Hetch Hetchy Valley. It’s a nice thought, but I’m afraid I just don’t see it happening anytime soon. The cries of a thirst-ravaged city makes for a powerful political lobby Besides, where else would San Francisco get all of it’s water from? It’s too bad the technology for desalination of ocean water doesn’t exist yet. Oh wait, it does. Must be dollars and NIMBY-ism that keeps Hetch Hetch a flooded shell of it’s former, and natural beauty.
Comment on this post:
Copyright info for using or linking to the pictures.