Posts Tagged ‘endangered species’

Save The Historic Olsen Barn: Campaign by Feather River Land Trust

August 13th, 2015

Olsen Barn and Meadow Campaign

A Number of Photographers and Other Local Artists Including Jan Davies, Betty Bishop, Sally Yost, Sally Posner, David Leland Hyde and Many Others Have Donated Rights to Use Photographs, Originals and Prints to Feather River Land Trust to Help Save A Northern Sierra Legacy

October 23, 2015 Update:

Individual donations were up to $413,467 as of 10-1-15. This more than met the amount necessary to complete the land transaction. On September 23 Feather River Land Trust Executive Director Paul Hardy exercised the option to purchase the 107 acre property and Olsen Barn. Formal Closing took place October 23, 2015. As of October 1, Feather River Land Trust received 541 donations from 439 individuals from as far away as Alaska and New York. The total raised for the land transaction through October 1 was $798,000. Funds already raised for taking care of the land and barn total $15,467. A land and barn stewardship committee, including David Leland Hyde, has formed to establish land use, maintenance and restoration strategy. David Leland Hyde in particular is researching the viability for this property of joining the National Register of Historic Places.

 

The Imminent Demise of the Olsen Barn, a Plumas County Cultural Treasure

Cloudy Sunset, Olsen Barn, Lake Almanor Near Chester, California, Sierra, copyright 2015 David Leland Hyde. This photograph has been actively used by Feather River Land Trust in the Olsen Barn Campaign.

Cloudy Sunset, Olsen Barn, Lake Almanor Near Chester, California, Sierra, copyright 2015 David Leland Hyde. This photograph has been actively used by Feather River Land Trust in the Olsen Barn Campaign. (To see large click on image.)

Barns die in many ways: they are crushed by falling trees, blown down by high winds, dismantled for wood, demolished, set on fire and sometimes pushed over by bulldozers. However, the majority of barns don’t burn out, they just rot slowly away.

More barns give up the ghost each year than people build in the US. Around the West and Midwest dismantling barns is big business, but fortunately for historic barns there are also many friends of barns who are in the business of preservation.

One historic structure already falling apart is the Olsen Barn on the East edge of Chester, California on the shores of Lake Almanor where the Northern Sierra meets the Cascade Mountains. This cultural and community icon is one of the largest barns in Plumas County and the surrounding counties. For many years it has been restored in fits and starts, but mainly left to decay and crumble away if significant reconstruction does not occur soon.

Olsen Barn, Chester and Mt. Lassen Near Lake Almanor, California, copyright 2015 David Leland Hyde. (To see large, click on image.)

Olsen Barn, Chester and Mt. Lassen Near Lake Almanor, California, copyright 2015 David Leland Hyde. (To see large, click on image.)

Besides stunning views of Lake Almanor and Lassen Peak, the 107-acre Olsen Barn property includes lush stands of trees and a riparian creek corridor where the North Fork of the Feather River flows through from Chester into Lake Almanor. Norwegian pioneer settler and carpenter, Peter Olsen, originally built three barns for his dairy farm, of which today’s Olsen barn is the last one standing, but it is getting more shaky all the time. One major beam has fallen destabilizing one end of the structure. Also, many windows and doors are open and in other places the wooden walls are wearing thin, disintegrating and in danger of collapse.

Feather River Land Trust Tour Group, Interior Olsen Barn Near Chester, California, copyright 2015 David Leland Hyde. (To see large, click on image.)

Feather River Land Trust Tour Group, Interior Olsen Barn Near Chester, California, copyright 2015 David Leland Hyde. This photograph has also been used in the Olsen Barn Campaign. (To see large click on image.)

Still, several owl species continue to live in the barn. The meadow around the barn provides habitat for many species of wildlife and wildfowl, including a number of endangered species. Collins Pine owns an old railroad grade that runs through the property West of the barn and connects the fields around the barn to other areas of Chester Meadow. Collins Pine plans to restore the old railroad trestle crossing the North Fork Feather River and convert the railroad grade into a walking, hiking and possibly a biking trail. This will improve public access if the property owner is cooperative to such land use. A developer could wipe out the barn and fill the land with houses, as has been done so many times all over the west.

Fundraising Video Shows Historic and Natural Values

In a YouTube video raising funds to acquire the property for preservation, Paul Hardy, Executive Director and Founder of Feather River Land Trust said:

The property and barn are for sale on the open market and the right to public access could be lost forever. The barn has survived fire, floods, heavy snows, but most of all, development. Feather River Land Trust will keep the space open to everyone who wants to enjoy nature right outside their door. We also want to ensure that the Olsen Barn is standing for another 150 years.

Olsen Barn Across North Fork of Feather River and Riparian Area, Chester, California, copyright 2015 David Leland Hyde.

Olsen Barn Across North Fork of Feather River and Riparian Area, Chester, California, copyright 2015 David Leland Hyde. (To see large click on image.)

Since before the arrival of White settlers, the Chester Meadow has been a resource for people of the community to fish, picnic, explore and enjoy access to the shore of Lake Almanor. Originally the open grassland around the barn was part of the Maidu settlement now under Lake Almanor called Big Meadows. The area is now the last remaining remnant of Big Meadows, a Maidu trading and cultural center.

“Development of the Olsen Barn property would permanently erase an important village site of the Mountain Maidu people,” said Kenneth Holbrook, Maidu Summit Consortium Director, also in the Olsen Barn Campaign fundraising video.

Lenticular Clouds, Mt. Dyer and Chester Meadow Near Olsen Barn, Chester, California, copyright 2015 David Leland Hyde. (To see larger click image.)

Lenticular Clouds, Mt. Dyer and Chester Meadow Near Olsen Barn, Chester, California, copyright 2015 David Leland Hyde. (To see larger click image.)

The property is for sale for $798,000. The total Save Olsen Barn Campaign with pre-acquisition costs, restoration and management of the property will total about $1.2 million. Partly by meeting an early fundraising deadline, the project received $400,000 from Plumas County through California Proposition 50 on behalf of the Chester River Parkway. The current total fundraising from Feather River Land Trust private donors, as of August 4 is $243,108. This amount added to the $400,000 from the Prop 50 Grant makes a grand total to date of $643,108, leaving $154,892 needed by September 26 to successfully complete the purchase.

October 23, 2015 Update:

Even though the land transaction is now complete, funds are still much needed for ongoing land stewardship and barn restoration.

How You Can Make A Difference

Olsen Barn Through The Willows Across The North Fork Feather River, Chester, California, copyright 2015 David Leland Hyde. The Mountain Maidu used willows to make baskets that were unique in all the world. (To see larger click on image.)

Olsen Barn Through The Willows Across The North Fork Feather River Near Lake Almanor, Chester, California, copyright 2015 David Leland Hyde. The Mountain Maidu used willows to make baskets that were unique in all the world. (To see larger click on image.)

Time is running out on this gem of the Sierra. Here are some ways you can be part of this historical restoration project and support the Feather River Land Trust Olsen Barn Campaign:

Help Out By Check: Please make checks out to FRLT or Feather River Land Trust and Mail to: FRLT, P.O. Box 1826, Quincy, CA 95971 or take to the Chester branch of Plumas Bank.

Online Contribution: Go to Olsen Barn Fundraising page, scroll down, click on the large orange link button and under Donation Type choose Olsen Barn Campaign.

Stock or Mutual Fund Donation: Call Karen Klevin at 530-283-5758. It’s easy to make a stock donation and it is particularly beneficial if you have appreciated stock.

FRLT is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and all donations are tax-deductible.

To find out more about the Olsen Barn Campaign and the Feather River Land Trust directly from Paul Hardy, Executive Director and Founder, attend The Common Good Community Foundation hosted talk and dinner (optional).

Almanor Legacy, a Talk by Paul Hardy
August 13, 2015
Lake Almanor Tavern (Next to Dollar General)
384 Main Street, Chester, CA   96020
530-258-2100
Hors d’Oeuvres, No Host Bar: 5:00 pm
Talk: 5:30 pm
Dinner: 6:00 pm
(Call to make reservations for dinner by August 11, 2015)

Art, Earth And Ethics 1

May 22nd, 2014

Art, Earth And Ethics, Part One

National Forests, Spotted Owls, Environmentalism, The Abuse Of Nature And Our Future

The Earth will survive, but will man survive on the Earth? – Philip Hyde
Secret Cove, Ponderosa Pine Trees, Lake Tahoe, Sierra Nevada of California in the distance, copyright 2014 David Leland Hyde. The water quality that gives Lake Tahoe its natural clarity and deep blue color were declining until environmental reforms in the Tahoe Basin turned the situation around. Lake Tahoe is clearer today than it was five years ago.

Secret Cove, Ponderosa Pine Trees, Lake Tahoe, Sierra Nevada of California in the distance, copyright 2014 David Leland Hyde. New Addition to David Leland Hyde’s Sierra Portfolio. The water quality that gives Lake Tahoe its natural clarity and azure blue color were declining until environmental reforms in the Tahoe Basin turned the situation around. Lake Tahoe is clearer today than it was five years ago.

(See the photograph large here in David Leland Hyde Sierra Portfolio.)

My father, American landscape photographer Philip Hyde, and my mother Ardis bought 18 acres in 1956 for a few thousands dollars in Plumas County in the Northern Sierra Nevada of California. Plumas National Forest borders this land where I grew up, on two sides. Plumas National Forest also happens to be the top lumber producing national forest in the Lower 48 United States.

While my father was an artist and my mother a schoolteacher, my childhood friends were sons and daughters of loggers in Plumas National Forest and farmers in nearby Indian Valley. I remember conversations on both sides of the environmental equation. A good example of the nature of these discussions occurred recently. It was more of a one-sided rant than a dialog. A retired logger, who I consider a friend, and one of his friends, a claim gold miner, were raving about “those damn enviro’s.” Their comments were vaguely directed toward me, though also more general, offered in protest of all the injustices in the world and their own lives.

“I can’t believe the Feather River Land Trust won’t let us hunt ducks on the Heart K Ranch in Genesee Valley any more. We’ve been hunting ducks there for 50 years. Rich city people come up here and they don’t know anything about our way of life.” They were on a roll, fueled by beer and who knows what else. I did not intervene at first.

“There are no jobs left because of the enviro’s,” One of them said. “Yeah, and the damn Spotted Owl,” the other said. “Just because of one tiny bird, whole forests are closed to logging. What’s more important: one stupid little bird, or the economy? I’d like to take every one of those damn Spotted Owls and strangle them. People are the endangered species.”

I started to respond, but the old logger interrupted me, “We know what you’re going to say. You’re in cahoots with the wealthy Bay Area crowd. Don’t talk any of that rubbish in this house. I’ll throw you out.”

I rode my bike home and pondered how the above conversation has not changed for 50 or even hundreds of years either. What these hard working old guys fail to understand is that the Spotted Owl is only a symptom, just the tip of a very large iceberg. The ecosystems are breaking down and these few species that are dying are like advance warnings. Depending on your perspective, a few bees are not so important. “We can just get beehives to pollinate the crops,” another local said. Neither is it vital whether the local frogs can still reproduce, or whether any other single species, or single population of a species lives or dies. However, when you stop and think about how many human fertility clinics there were 30 years ago and how many there are now in every town, when you start to connect the dots, you begin to get the bigger picture.

The Earth is a web of all life. Everything is connected to everything else. You destroy one part of the web of life and you eventually destroy yourself. People reading this blog perhaps will say this is a “no-brainer,” that I’m not pointing out anything new here. True, but why are we as a collective not getting it? Not doing enough to change our perspective and our ways? Greed? Corruption? Selfishness? Lack of vision? Denial? Laziness? Pessimism? Resignation? What is your excuse for still driving a traditional car? …For burning fossil fuel? …For using plastic products? …For not recycling? Even hybrid and electric automobiles have a tremendous impact on the environment just through their manufacture and the mining extraction of the materials that go into them.

Is it really the environment that we need to save, or ourselves? When we act in ways that have less impact, carpool, ride a bike, is it truly on behalf of the environment? Is that the primary concern? Or is environmentalism really self-preservation? My father used to say that we do not need to worry about the Earth. It will be here long after we are gone. It is our own survival for which we need to be concerned. Therefore, are environmentalists in reality interested in protecting the environment at the expense of people, or precisely because it is our own future that is in jeopardy.

This paradox still escapes the majority of people in our culture. What do we do about it? I was lucky to grow up with both an environmental ethic and an art aesthetic. Care for the planet and beauty as a telltale of balanced health are ingrained in my psyche. Unfortunately, most people do not grow up as fortunately. To put in perspective how blindly oblivious and unaware some can be, take for instance one extreme case: this video of former Boy Scout leaders destroying an ancient rock formation in Goblin Valley State Park in Utah.

When I first saw this video of young men responsible for leading others into nature having no respect for nature, I was dismayed, not only about those committing the crime and their kind, but also about whether there is any hope for our civilization. What we fail to realize is that we are all taking actions much like these ignorant young men. Not only are there just enough clueless people like them running around that it is easy to fall into thinking we are doomed, but we are all clueless to a much greater degree than we understand. In the realm of photography, even many nature and landscape photographers seem to have no respect for nature or other photographers, as landscape photographer Sarah Marino reported in her photoblog post, in which she suggested a field etiquette for landscape photographers.

Regardless of misguided deeds and a destructive approach to nature by our whole civilization, I believe there is still hope. I am writing this new series of blog posts precisely because I believe there is something we may not yet know, something we have not yet discovered, some new information or new action that will save us. This does not mean we can sit back, relax, watch TV, play video games, surf Facebook and not worry. It means that we need to put all of our synergistic efforts and pooled resources into finding a solution. But are we likely to do that? That is the question.

A New Yorker article, Scientific American and Grist Magazine report that even many leading scientists believe it is already too late to do anything about Climate Change. Wow, that went fast. Many people still doubt and wonder whether it is reality or myth, truth or fiction. Those of us who have been reading the science know that it is based on much more than mere computer modeling. We know that the science of Global Warming is based on mountains of hard evidence and real measurements that are hard to misread.

The abuse of nature has gone on for thousands of years. It is even sanctioned in the Bible. Genesis says our role is to conquer and have dominion over the Earth. Fortunately, today large numbers of Christians are not taking the Bible literally. More moderate Christians are in favor of applying the passages in the good book that tout taking care of Earth.

In the recent winner of the Colorado Book Award, Dam Nation: How Water Shaped the West and Will Determine Its Future, author Stephen Grace covers the devastating state of water and drought in the Western US today. Water laws, originally developed in the much wetter East, protect the use of water channeled away from rivers and streams at the expense of in-stream ecological, aesthetic and recreational values.

As economies across the West surged, streams were dammed, ditched, and diverted until their beds were nearly bare. Many rivers became toxic trickles because they didn’t carry enough volume to dilute poisons and flush themselves clean. And each diversion for an offstream use, whether to grow crops, make steel or send drinking water to city taps, reduced the amount of instream flow available for supporting fish and wildlife populations, nourishing riparian vegetation, and promoting recreational pursuits such as boating, camping, fishing, and bird watching… To some, especially those profiting from raising beef on irrigated pasture—these uses seemed ridiculous at best, a threat to their way of life at worst.

Hoover Dam on the Colorado River helped supply the power to win World War II. After the War Hoover Dam was one of the underpinnings of the US rise to world power. Damming and diverting rivers has become as American as apple pie and as loved as baseball in the political arena, but the effects on watersheds, the durability of our limited fresh water supply and ultimately the health of the arteries of life on Earth is at stake.

On a larger scale, we are treating nature with the same abusive disdain across the globe. Are we lacking ethics or taste? Is it simply in our nature to be a parasite on the face of the Earth? Can we change? These and other questions, answers and ways out of the trap we have set for ourselves will be the subject of this new blog series.

(Continued in the blog post, “Art, Earth And Ethics 2.”)

Please comment, email or write me through the Contact Form above what environmental issues, ecological concerns and related psychology and philosophy you would like to read more about.

What Is An Environmentalist? What Is A Conservationist?

March 19th, 2010

“Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.” –Albert Einstein

Foliage Illuminated, Big Basin Redwoods State Park, California, 2009 by David Leland Hyde. Camera Raw. Photoshop used only for resizing. Nikon D90, hand held.

Without letting our minds complicate or judge these words, here’s a simple definition: an environmentalist is anyone who likes to breathe, drinks water and does not want either one polluted. A Conservationist cares about maintaining the quality of wilderness, the same way everyone else cares about the quality of air and water.

The two words are sometimes used interchangeably, though conservation was the earlier version of environmentalism, with particular emphasis on land preservation. Conservation, as practiced by Henry David Thoreau and John Muir, transformed into modern environmentalism, between 1955 and 1975, when political lobbying, advertising, letter writing, grass roots organizing, book publishing and other modern methods evolved, and when activism broadened from wilderness protection into other issues such as, you guessed it, water and air pollution. Lest you doubt that the meanings are truly this simple, check a good dictionary.

Besides the obvious and logically strong argument that if we don’t protect wilderness, it will continue to disappear, why is it wise for an outdoor enthusiast, landscape photographer or anyone to care about the natural places he or she enjoys? Is there a deeper reason than just wanting to look at beautiful scenes? In future blog posts I will quote Wallace Stegner, Ansel Adams, Philip Hyde, Katie Lee, Henry David Thoreau, Edward Abbey, Rachel Carson, Anne Dillard, John Muir, David Brower, Aldo Leopold, Howard Zahniser and others on why wilderness is important. These people have some ideas. For more on Henry David Thoreau see the blog post, “Ralph Waldo Emerson On Henry David Thoreau.” For more on Edward Abbey read the blog post, “Who Was Edward Abbey?

In the meantime, let us grapple with the idea of ‘environmentalism’ and the ‘environment.’ Is it wise at this time in history, to care about the environment, particularly if you consider yourself an outdoors person, naturalist, nature photographer, or as Ansel Adams called himself and his colleagues, “a photographer of the natural scene”?

If the world is going to end anyway eventually, what does it matter if we keep it from ending sooner? If mankind’s time on this green globe is only one very small fraction of an instant compared to how long the rest of it has been around, and is likely to continue, who are we to think we can destroy or save the natural world? Why not forget about environmentalism and use everything up and trash the planet? After all, isn’t the Gross Domestic Product or GDP more important? Making a profit is what counts, right? If GDP grows a few percent, that is good for everybody, if it drops a few percent, we are all in big trouble, right?

We could also remember that at some time in our childhood, our mothers taught us to pick up after ourselves, share with others, not hoard all the toys, if you spill something, clean it up or ask mom to help you clean it up, do not just leave it, pack back inside everything you take out, and let everyone have a turn. If we just applied sandbox etiquette to the world, we might get along better and live longer.

Was the concept of the environment, as separate from Mankind and the man-made world, the idea of environmentalists? If you are an environmentalist, does it follow that you care about the ‘environment’ and not about people? Those damn environmentalists! They are the cause of our society’s woes, particularly the woes of capitalists just trying to make a living. Are environmentalists against capitalism? Heck, when you get right down to it, are environmentalists un-American? Are environmentalists terrorists? What is an “eco-terrorist”? Is he or she an ecologist-turned-bad?

I thought the term terrorist referred to someone who kills people. Do “eco-terrorists” kill people? Or do they just cause inconvenience for resource-exploiting and habitat-destroying industry? By the way, is the habitat being destroyed only that of small endangered species, or is it yours and mine?

Let’s see, Webster’s says, “Terrorism: the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coersion.” OK, then what is terror? Webster’s tells us it is,”To frighten. To cause anxiety or worry.” Under these definitions, the news media are terrorists, as are doctors, nurses, especially hospitals, ads for drugs, commercials, law enforcement, a few but certainly not all museum curators, stock brokers, bankers, credit card companies, insurance companies, airport personnel, lawyers, how could I forget lawyers, power-hungry-instant politicians who support big polluters and other big business, librarians, archivists, sometimes relatives and sometimes even neighbors. The world is full of terrorists and there is a lot to be afraid of…? Are environmentalists the worst of all? That’s what some would have you think. Are they really?

Now let’s check Webster’s again, “Eco-terrorist: sabotage intended to hinder activities that are considered damaging to the environment.” Sign me up. How do I join? OK, wait, what is the definition of ‘environment,’ “Environment: the circumstances, objects, or conditions by which one is surrounded. The complex of physical, chemical, and biotic factors (as climate, soil, and living things) that act upon an organism or an ecological community and ultimately determine its form and survival.”

OK, so let me get this straight, an eco-terrorist is not interested in hurting other people, he or she is more interested in making sure that other people are not hurtful. An Eco-terrorist sabotages activities that damage the factors that determine his or her survival. I can live with that. Fair enough. And an environmentalist works on the positive side of it, an environmentalist is interested in preserving the factors that determine his or her survival. Just wanted to clear up these various meanings, so people didn’t throw around terms that they think are insulting, but are truly complementary.

For more on the environment, the fate of the Earth and the ethical questions surrounding these topics see the blog post, “Art, Earth and Ethics 1.”

What do you think? Are you an environmentalist? If not, why?

A River Will Run Through It

February 23rd, 2010

Savage Rapids Dam on the Rogue River, during removal looking upstream. Courtesy of the Bureau of Reclamation.

Grants Pass, Oregon–The momentum continues for removing dams and freeing America’s wild rivers. Dams on the Rogue River and Klamath River in Oregon, Hetch Hetchy Valley on the Tuolumne River in Yosemite National Park, California and Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River in Arizona and Utah, are just a few of the targets of dam demolition campaigns.

Nearly 90 years ago the Grants Pass Irrigation District built Savage Rapids Dam on the Rogue River to provide irrigation water for nearby farms. Farmers benefited; fish did not. Fish ladders were installed for coho and chinook salmon and steelhead, but they did not change the dams status as the biggest fish killer on the river.

A Portland, Oregon organization known as Waterwatch, spearheaded campaigns to remove Savage Rapids Dam, Gold Ray Dam, Gold Hill Dam, Elk Creek Dam and Lost Creek Dam from the Rogue River, historically Oregon’s second largest salmon spawning watershed behind the Klamath River. Projects are also in motion on the Klamath River that will eventually set the mighty river completely free, supported by the Yurok, Karuk and Klamath Tribes.

River ecosystems are the basis of all life on Earth. Not only do dams kill fish, they destroy other native species, increase the negative effects of drought as opposed to alleviating these as often publicized, increase the water’s salinity, encourage non-native trees and shrubs, remove sandbars, marshes and other habitat for small land and marine animals and waterfowl, waste more water than they save, especially in arid climates, and often lose money as they fail to produce the levels of hydro-power projected. Technologies have recently been refined that allow for hydro-power to be generated without damming rivers; by merely diverting a portion of the flow through large pipes into turbines.

Savage Rapids Dam on the Rogue River, former site immediately after breaching, looking downstream. Courtesy of the Bureau of Reclamation.

Waterwatch staff fearlessly decided three years ago that Savage Rapids Dam must go. Demolition began in October 2006, the dam was completely breached in October 2009 and one of the largest dam removal projects in the country is now almost complete. To get the project going, Waterwatch representatives argued about water rights, rallied fishermen and kayakers, and they got in touch with Earthjustice attorneys Mike Sherwood and Claudia Polsky. Earthjustice, a spinoff from the Sierra Club, started as the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund in 1971, and changed its name to Earthjustice in 1997. Mike Sherwood and Claudia Polsky recently succeeded in gaining Endangered Species Act protection for the coho salmon. They were thereby able to charge the dam operators with illegally harming a protected species. Eventually all parties agreed that the dam would come out and be replaced with pumps that divert water straight out of the river for farms, with no impoundment necessary.

American Rivers, based in Washington DC, “has led a national effort to restore rivers through the demolition of dams that no longer make sense,” said American Rivers promotional materials. “The organization’s expertise and advocacy have contributed to the removal of more than 200 dams nationwide.” American Rivers released a statement last month that in 2009, 58 dams in 16 states, were taken down.

“In the 1950s and ’60s, a dam went up in the United States every six minutes to generate electricity, provide irrigation water and protect against floods,” wrote Matthew Preusch in the New York Times. “As a result, there are an estimated 75,000 aging dams blocking rivers large and small today.”

Hetch Hetchy Valley, Field of Stumps, Yosemite National Park, 1955, by Philip Hyde, who discovered that the water level was very low and drove straight to the Sierra Club Headquarters in San Francisco to tell David Brower. David Brower dropped everything, grabbed his movie camera and they rushed back to photograph and film. To this day Restore Hetch Hetchy uses the David Brower film and Philip Hyde photographs in their campaign to restore this paradise lost. The Sacramento Bee won a Pulitzer Prize for their series covering the Hetch Hetchy debate. Philip Hyde's widely published photograph appeared on PBS Television's Jim Lehrer News Hour in a segment about the controversy in 2008.

A California group, Restore Hetch Hetchy, continues to fight for the restoral of Yosemite National Park’s Hetch Hetchy Valley. Hetch Hetchy is a sister valley to Yosemite and at one time approached Yosemite Valley’s beauty, with waterfalls, rich grasslands and wildlife, verdant forests, and the Tuolumne River lazily winding through the center. However, after the 1906 Earthquake, San Francisco proposed damming Hetch Hetchy Valley to form a reliable water supply. John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, led the opposition to the dam. Many say he died of a broken heart after the O’Shaughnessy Dam flooded Hetch Hetchy Valley. Gifford Pinchot, leader of the U. S. Forest Service, who many now claim was an environmentalist, was one of the leading proponents of the dam. Ironically, modern studies show that San Francisco could obtain the same amount of water with less expense downstream.

Hetch Hetchy was the first and last time any agency built a dam on National Park lands. A coalition of environmental organizations, led by the Sierra Club and David Brower, successfully defeated two dams proposed in Dinosaur National Monument in the early 1950s and lobbied Congress to pass legislation that strengthened laws preventing such development in the National Park System. However, to save Dinosaur National Monument, the coalition of environmental groups had to endorse the damming of Glen Canyon as a better alternative. Few people had ever seen Glen Canyon. By the time wilderness proponents Eliot Porter, Philip Hyde and other Sierra Club landscape photographers published spectacular images lamenting the loss of one of the world’s most beautiful wild places in the early 1960s, it was too late. The Bureau of Reclamation had already closed the gates on the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell had begun to consume the canyon wilderness.

Glen Canyon Dam and "Lake" Powell, Utah and Arizona. Creatas Photos Royalty Free Photograph.

Today, the granddaddy dam removal proposal of them all is to redeem Glen Canyon and make it a National Park. The Glen Canyon Institute has piloted this endeavor since 1996 with support from David Brower, Philip Hyde and currently Philip Hyde Photography. Read Philip Hyde’s expression of grief over the loss of Glen Canyon and part of the Escalante Wilderness in the blog post, “Glen Canyon Lament By Philip Hyde.” “Lake” Powell, or Powell Reservoir to be more accurate, has drawn down over 100 feet in droughts several times and reached an all-time low in 2003. The reservoir was only completely full for a short time in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The sandstone bedrock leaks more water than the net storage for irrigation and the “lake” surface evaporates more water every year than the “lake” holds. Glen Canyon Dam has prevented the Colorado River from the periodic flooding that forms sandbars vital to the survival and propagation of plant and wildlife species downriver in Grand Canyon National Park. In contrast, small daily fluctuations due to power generating releases have carried away most of the sandbars and threatened endangered species, disrupting the natural ecosystem of Grand Canyon National Park. Reportedly, the soft sandstone that Glen Canyon Dam is anchored in, nearly failed in 1983 after a flood on the upper Colorado River. Glen Canyon Dam is aging and its lifespan is estimated at as little as 100 years by dam removal proponents and 500-700 years by the Bureau of Reclamation. The heavy-laden Colorado River and San Juan River are rapidly filling Powell Reservoir with silt that decreases electricity generation and can interfere with Glen Canyon Dam’s proper operation. A breach of Glen Canyon Dam could cause a floodwave that would top the downstream Hoover Dam by as much as 230 feet, resulting in a potential megatsunami disaster downstream. Much more on Glen Canyon Dam, “Lake” Powell, Edward Abbey and the The Monkey Wrench Gang in future blog posts. See also the blog posts, “Glen Canyon Lament 1 By Philip Hyde,” “Glen Canyon Portfolio 1” and “Glen Canyon Portfolio 2.” For more about who Edward Abbey was read the blog post, “Who Was Edward Abbey?

References:
Earthjustice Press Release.
The Portland Orgonian, Oregon Environmental News, “The Rogue River Dam Removal Moves Forward”
Waterwatch
American Rivers
New York Times, “Dams Go Down, Uncorking Rivers For Kayakers”
Restore Hetch Hetchy
Glen Canyon Institute
Scientists Struggle to Preserve Grand Canyon Wildlife