The Hetch Hetchy Valley fight represented the first time the forces of development and preservation fought on a national level. Located within Yosemite National Park, the struggle signaled the opening salvo of the century-long conflict over the “highest and best use” of natural areas. It was not an issue of wilderness preservation, but rather one of water storage or nature tourism. It also represents the seminal battle over public versus private power. History does show that viable water storage alternatives existed, and San Francisco could have developed an equally fine water system built at less expense, without the invasion of a national park and the loss of a remarkable valley.
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