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The Battle Over Hetch HetchyAmerica's Most Controversial Dam and the Birth of Modern Environmentalism$
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Robert W. Righter

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195149470

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195149470.001.0001

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San Francisco to “Show Cause”

San Francisco to “Show Cause”

(p.96) CHAPTER 5 San Francisco to “Show Cause”
The Battle Over Hetch Hetchy

Robert W. Righter (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The USGS study stated that San Francisco could meet its water needs for at least 50 years without touching the Hetch Hetchy Valley. Given the study and Secretary of Interior Richard Ballinger's own sympathies, the new secretary altered the Garfield grant, requiring San Francisco to “show cause” why Hetch Hetchy should not be removed from the grant. It was a significant victory for the valley defenders, but San Francisco did not give up. The city hired John Freeman, perhaps the best known civil engineer in the nation, to design a Hetch Hetchy water system and also “show cause” why San Francisco needed the reservoir. The city also hired Michael O'Shaughnessy, an engineer of significant reputation, to build the system. President William Howard Taft toured Yosemite Valley and consulted with John Muir. His second Secretary of the Interior, Walter Fisher, visited Hetch Hetchy and then held six days of hearings in Washington, D. C. Fisher then turned over all of the information to an advisory board, made up of three high-ranking officers in the Army Corps of Engineers. In February 1913, the officials released the long-awaited report. They recommended development of the Hetch Hetchy Valley, but also suggested alternate sources of water. In making its recommendation, the officers did not consider tourism, scenic value, or national park invasion. Secretary Fisher hesitated and delayed, finally determining that Congress should decide the fate of the valley.

Keywords:   utilitarian conservation, Richard Ballinger, John Freeman, Michael O'Shaughnessy, William Howard Taft, Walter Fisher

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