A century-old fight over a dam in Yosemite National Park is headed to a California appeals court on May 30.
The campaign to restore the once lush Hetch Hetchy Valley is among the country's oldest environmental debates, widely credited with giving birth to environmental activism in this country.
For some environmentalists, the dam is an abomination, desecrating the valley's natural beauty and wildlife, submerging it under 300 feet of water. San Francisco officials say the dam serves as a crucial water supply to millions of people in the San Francisco Bay area. U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, the former mayor of San Francisco, has called the reservoir the city’s "birthright" and slammed efforts to remove it as "dumb, dumb, dumb."
The lawsuit, filed by nonprofit Restore Hetch Hetchy, will be heard in the 5th District Court of Appeal in Fresno. The group says the dam has been rendered obsolete by newer reservoirs and water treatment technologies. The dam, they argue, violates California's Constitutional law regulating water distribution, which prohibits any “unreasonable method of diversion.”
The Birth of a Campaign