of no fixed subtitle
August 31, 2004
. It's time to
bring it back
17 years ago
Wow, what a beautiful place. Typical of us humans to destroy. I doubt that the proper decisions will be made to do the right thing. Especially given who's in charge right now.
Yes, Yosemite valley is spectacular, but way overcrowded. It takes at least a year to get a camping reservation there. But, in a way, I'd like to see all camping cut off in the valley, itself. When I first went there in the 1960s, entering through a tunnel which exited into the incredible view of water falls and nature at its best, I thought that what I saw, that took my breath away, must have been almost like the place appeared to the first people who entered the valley. There were relatively few people, so I felt that there was room to move around and wallow in enjoyment of the meadows and mountains. I haven't been willing to go back in the last 20 years since the picture I have in my mind is of people everywhere. Opening up Hetch Hetchy might take some of the pressure off Yosemite valley, but then, does Hetch Hetchy become the trailer park just below the main attraction? It appears to have its own spectacular places. It seems apparent that Hetch Hetchy could go back to its original ecology, and that Bay Area water could be provided by different dams. I'm not sure why anyone is against that.
Especially given who's in charge right now.
Schwarzenegger might not be so bad on the environment, actually (especially if he can stand up to Bush,
who recently screwed him
It's because Southern California, specifically Los Angeles County, sucks up water without regard to replenishment or conservation, and charges Northern California for pipleline usage while the latter's usage is appropriately moderate [unlike LA's]. I think. I will look for supporting websites tomorrow. This has been a huge issue in San Francisco, which does tend to think of itself as the center of the universe. Also: it's kinda sick that Los Angeles demands so much water for its copious, wasteful lawns.
, is there any serious talk out there yet on desalinization?
am i the only human on earth not overly impressed by nature? i mean, this place here is very nice, gorgeous in fact. but it just kind of HAPPENED. glaciers moved, the earth burped, canyons and mountains were made. but the eiffel tower, or a skyscraper, or a piece of art -- those things were created by human hands. to me, that's far more amazing. starting from nothing, a human being crafted something of lasting beauty. so i'm always more overwhelmed by a city than by, say, the grand canyon.
There's beauty in both, I think. I find it difficult to understand how people cannot be struck with some awe at the grace and audacity of the Empire State Building, or St.Peter's Basilica or [fill in here with any of 1000s - the Great Wall, Pyramids, those gargantuan buildings in Kuala Lumpur, Angor Wat, etc.] At the same time, natural beauty has an energy that is so outside of human control that I find it startling -- humanity is entirely irrelevant to it, yet butterflies are brilliant, snow peaks strong and powerful and rivers blinding with energy. What strikes me about these things is they, in fact, literally started from nothing and became something of true lasting beauty without interference by human hands. That it *just happened*, and happened so beautifully and with such fitness for purpose, is what is most amazing to me. though, admittedly, the Grand Canyon is not in my top 10 sights at all, and that's even before the coach tours arrive.
I realise that doesn't explain *at all* why I find nature beautiful; as well that I've been conditioned to think certain things are beautiful and others not (brightly coloured plastic bags littering Long Beach, eg.) So, yeah. "I like nature!" is about all I really have to say, I guess. "SideDish, you're a freak" being the subtext, of course. (I kid)
I don't think you're alone, SideDish, in being a bit less impressed by nature than by human accomplishment and endeavors. It stands to reason, really, as being people-monkeys, we most easily apprehend what's involved in human work. I'm a total city-dweller who also feels a strong innate tug of extended familial pride in great and wondrous human-built accomplishments. It's mind-boggling to look at the sky and see infinity, or as close as this Universe gets to it. So mind-boggling that the scale of it is usually lost on us. I have a much more visceral "wow" feeling when I see things like the Eiffel Tower, but the part of my brain that loves BIG abstractions also goes numb with the sheer pleasure of pondering the age of a universe which ponders its very shape over billions of years, of our galaxy where, near this point in the Solar System's last orbit around the galactic center, the Permian was just starting to wind down and the greatest mass-extinction our tiny planet's ever seen was starting to heat up. How can I really feel that scale? I can feel the scale of the Space Needle in Seattle, but feeling Alpha Centauri 4.3 light-years away... wonderful, beautiful, but of necessity a lot less visceral to me, a poor monkey who, like most, hasn't ever been as much as a light-second from home.
Guess I'm just your opposite in this,
. Find cities grim and hideous places, with condoms in oil-slicked puddles and candy wrappers blown into chainlink fences, homeless people hiding under bridges, drunken people urinating in the streets, passersby afraid to meet one another's eyes, car fumes and car horns and sirens non-stop, gangland graffitti and broken windows, and always far too hot in summer. So, to me, the average large city seems a tragic place, where I witness individual alienation and dysfunction, social breakdown, severe overcrowding, and experience a vastly diminished quality of life.
well, i feel the same way about nature -- and all the stinging insects (present company excluded, of course) and humidity and mud and prickly plants and mysterious brown goo that sticks to shoes. heh. i'm talking more about the buildings themselves. *that*'s what's amazing to me. that humans can take an empty chunk of land, envision a skyscraper, engineer it, build it, and make it a
thing of overwhelming beauty and power
am i the only human on earth not overly impressed by nature? i mean, this place here is very nice, gorgeous in fact. but it just kind of HAPPENED. glaciers moved, the earth burped, canyons and mountains were made. but the eiffel tower, or a skyscraper, or a piece of art -- those things were created by human hands. to me, that's far more amazing. starting from nothing, a human being crafted something of lasting beauty. so i'm always more overwhelmed by a city than by, say, the grand canyon
Geez, SideDish, I don't even know what to say. I don't think I've ever heard anyone with that kind of point of view. I really find it somewhat bizarre. Freak would be putting it mildly (it's all out of love, though, intended as a light-hearted jab.) If I had the money, you can bet your ass, I would buy a large hunk of property,
off the beaten path and create my own little self-sufficient world. Energy efficient, re-useable everything, gardens galore, lot's and lot's of green all around me. And it would be heaven. Cities are nice to visit, the energy level is fun for awhile, but it is extremely draining and eventually exposes itself for what it is....oppressive. And the air.....horrible. But you know, whatever makes you happy........I guess.
beeswacky, desalinazation is more expensive than draining the rivers, aqueducts, etc. Until that changes, I don't think you'll see many cities adopting the technology. My town bought a desal plant during the last drought, but couldn't afford to keep it and ended up selling it about two years later.
, that leaves me cold, sorry. I don't see it as beauty, I see the light-spill as wasteful and an affront to those of us who enjoy watching the stars, I guess. Excellent you live where you do and are happy, and I live where I do and am content. Be a poorer world if we all relished the same things.
Heh. And every person who loves a city and lives there means one fewer to come and clutter the soon-to-be-asphalted countryside!
yes, bees, i'm glad there are very different places in which to live. i've always had a very intense "sense of place." i grew up in a suburb, and one of my earliest emotional memories is KNOWING that i HAD TO GET OUT OF THERE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. then i felt cozy in a rural area for college. moved to a small midwestern town and felt restless and bored; moved to kansas city and felt that i SHOULD be happy there -- but something didn't feel right. moved to the DC suburbs, felt anxious and out of sorts. two years ago moved to my current old brownstone in the middle of all the noise and grit and dogs and panhandlers and bikes and traffic -- and finally, FINALLY, felt utterly, supremely, contentedly .... home. and it only took 42 years!
Darshon spoke my mind in every regard, so no need to repeat it. SideDish, the only thing I'll add here is that cities seem like momentary, transitory things, here one century and remade the next, compared to the gradual rhythms of nature over millennia. The Eiffel Tower and works of art are certainly spiffy, but the natural world will hardly notice when they eventually turn to dust.
but the beauty of architecture (at least for me) also lies within its transitory nature.... oh, well, never mind. i'm weird, i know.
oh and sorry for the de-rail!
SideDish, you're not alone. I grew up in a small town and couldn't wait to leave. First trip to NYC we stayed with a friend who lived a block off the Williamsburg bridge at the corner of Allen and Delancey. Incredible traffic, big trucks rumbling by and setting off car alarms every 15 seconds, the crazy guy on the corner doing kung-fu moves at the cars, the indescribable aroma of Chinatown on a warm day, big honking rats... I felt at home immediately and slept like a baby every night. When we returned, I had problems sleeping because it was too quiet.
Don't get me wrong, rural and wilderness areas are wonderful and suburban sprawl should be stopped. I love nature, but I'll never feel at home there. Maybe it was growing up in the middle of nowhere. Doesn't matter how beautiful it is, it still feels empty. Even in gorgeous surroundings, camping usually bores me to tears.
(Except if there's a place to swim. I can stare at/be in water for hours. Either I'm descended from urban sea sloths or I need to move someplace like Honolulu or Sydney.)
, thanks for the information -- was curious in view of the report this week on how climate change is projected to affect California.
Eh, I'm with the city folk on this one. Of course, having grown up in the city I'm a biased. But by city, I do mean CITY, not the giant stretches of bedroom minicities like Queens or Lansing or Boston. When I take my weekly walk up Broadway (or even my morning commute from Brooklyn) and I see the Empire State Building off in the distance, it amazes me. I'm anywhere from 3-6 miles away, and yet there it is. Even coming in from New Jersey on the Turnpike, you can see that lighthouse in the sky calling you home. And then I marvel. I'm seeing a mountain, a hollow man made mountain (built in less then 2 years to boot) that lights up at night and entertains tourists all day (Note to tourists, it is WINDY at the top. They don't show you that in the movies.) And it makes the surrounding city, a veritable collection of smaller hollow man made mountains, look tiny. Not that they are, if you've ever seen the city from the palisades of New Jersey, where this island of hollow mountains rivals the cliffs a 3 mile thick glacier took hundreds of years to make. And it's full of life, of people, all making do without cars or lawns or large moderately insulated houses. I think we should all love cities. We should all move to cities, and leave nature the well enough alone. Everybody loves the countryside, they want to live in the countryside, they move to the countryside. And soon enough, they subdivide the farms and forests, drive their poor gas mileage
trucks long distances for
soda, complain about sprawl, and let their spoiled poorly dressed kids come into the city unattended to shout at the hotel/restaurant/theatre paying conventioneers to "Go Home". [/rant]
OK, maybe not the last bit, but I still would rather people move to the city and stop loving the countryside to death.
:: And as far as the actual topic of the post, resurrecting the valley, I think it is not a bad idea. However, a rich resource such as a reservoir is hard to replace. And a reservoir's great strength lies in it's sheer scale, which I don't see being matched at any other locations in the near future. It's reserves allows a buffer in your water supplies, eases a bit of uncertainty, and allows a city to reasonably flourish. While I feel very bad about the valley, it's one of those sacrifices you make to have a city like San Fransisco. [edit: OK, I read a couple of the links more closely. If San Fransisco has the chance of swapping one reservoir for a pair with multiple increases in capacity, the city would have to be full of adleheaded idiots to turn that kind of a deal down, no matter the present day costs. Let's bring back Hetch Hetchy! (Or at least rename it to something more inspiring to match Yosemite.)]
Oh, no! Hetch Hetchy has a long history. If we called it Luminous Water Place, or Secondary Yosemite, or somenthing similar, it would ignore that fact that Hetch Hetchy is a Miwok indian name which predates the discovery of the valley. It's probably a more authentic name than "Yosemite". And, I do like saying "Hetch Hetchy."
The redundant nature of the name is just what gets me. And the fact that "Hetchy" sounds like an abbreviation of something much more complex. Miwok actually doesn't sound too bad to my ear.
Next, let's rebrand Dayton, OH. I like LuminousWaterPlace as a good substitute. Maybe SecondaryColumbus.
The Miwok Indians of Yosemite
Toss away 'Hetch Hetchy' = throw away some history, losing ties to the past. Besides which, it is a handsome mouthful to say.
Meanwhile, farther north:
Tribe dances to protest Shasta Dam expansion
. Clearly, now is the time for the
liberation of NoCal
The Environmental Defense Fund embarks on a national campaign to shame San Francisco into restoring the other great Yosemite valley, Hetch Hetchy. But is shame really a good political strategy?
Catch more flies with honey, 'tis said.
Been about a year
since there's been much said about Hetch Hetchy resoration project. However, the feasability study indicated it could be done. Does anyone know if there's been any followup, or is it tied up in committee? Would hate to see this idea die of neglect. Beautiful, and unusual country.
It's still very much alive here in CA, no worries there. KVIE, the local PBS station, runs pieces on it every now and then; there are quite a lot of people who aren't willing to let the issue die.
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?!sdrawkcab gnipyt draobyek ym si yhW
tihspid! Sad to say, I think we ought to just leave it. We mucked it up, and we can't fix it. Draining it won't bring it back--ecologies are fragile, and what grows there won't be the same. We've got a lot of hubris, thinking we should be allowed to change things as we will. And even more hubris thinking we can put them back the way they were.
Draining it won't bring it back
. Actually, the state's own feasability studies indicate it can be brought back.
Berek - one the best things about living in a urban area (or even a small town) is being able to visit a natural area like Yosemite, or as Hetch Hetchy was once. If they all go away... BlueHorse: I recall reading an article about a similar project on the Colorado River, where the restauration appeared to be successful, it began to come back to its original state without waiting an eternity. Think about this: it's my impression that Idaho has a large amount of relatively untouched wilderness, but, in California, so many have been "touched." Returning one to it's former glory might take longer than my remaining life, but in my childhood, California wasn't nearly as converted to the Disneylandish controlled wildness that we see now in many places (think Lake Tahoe.) Restoration of Hetch Hetchy seems like a good thing to me, even it my (non-existant) grandchildren wouldn't live to see it in at its best. Since it would be a national park, development would be under some control, much like Yosemite, where it takes at least a year to get a reservation to camp or stay in a lodge. Yosemite is somewhat compromised, and Hetch Hetchy might take some of the pressure off. All in all, I'm for the restoration.
I believe that natural areas should be preserved tp the maximum possible. I definently think that there should be a moratorium on the selling of federal lands. These lands should be held in trust for the public and future generations. I like visiting parks and wilderness areas but I have absolutely no desire to live in a rural area. Ames, where i live now, is to small for me. Of course that's all relative, my mom considers Ames to be the big city. Iowa isn't exactly known for wilderness areas but we have a few small gems. Tomorrow i thinks I'lls go outs to the
Berek, we're not asking you to move to a rural area. That isn't the point.
Oh, pllllleeeeze! We don't have much clue how jerking around with one single plant or animal in an ecosystem can ultimately do, so how could we know how the destruction of an entire valley affect things around it in the long term? Sure, we can plant some grass here, grow a few pine trees over there, import some squirrels, maybe throw a few trout in the stream... And over several decades we'll see opportunistic native species move in, but we certainly can't say that we've restored or re-created Hetch-Hetchy now, can we? Given how funding for Parks and the NSF has been gutted, given how much lip service is paid to environmental care, I'd rather see that effort and $$ go into preserving what we haven't royally fucked up already, instead of going into a big, showy, everybody-gets-a-pat-on-the-back project that doesn't affect more than a regional area. Yea, I've seen the power company and mining company advertisements on TV and read some (company produced) literature on restoration and re-forestation. I've also been in those areas. I'd sooner believe my own eyes.
But, maybe "opportunistic" native species are just what need to be there. Were they maybe what was there before the deluge? Or, would they maybe be precursors to the original flora? Aspen grow in burned out areas in the Sierras, but their lives are relatively short (maybe 20 years.) Once they've done their job, other trees take advantage of their gardening. But it isn't a short attention span theater. I won't ever see Hetch Hetchy in it's orignal state, but I still think that it can get back to it in the long term, especially since it's contiguous with Yosemite, Won't the flora and fauna of the big Y expand there over time? And I think time is the key element. The destruction of the valley took place when it was flooded. So draining it is further destruction? I truly don't understand where you're coming from. And, who knows what reforestation will look like where you go see it 50 years from now.. If it's given a chance, it might turn out to be wonderful. I'm comfortable with letting nature heal these places with a little educated help, even if it's a long term project. Or, is the alternative to not try to regain our wild spaces the preferred outcome? What becomes of them then?
Yes, many species which were there before the flooding seem to still exist in the general area. Restoration of flooded land to conditions that obtained before it was flooded are not at all unknown, for human dams are being taken out by natural causes and by men all over North America; others may or may not be rebuilt -it is an ongoing process. And was well before Europeans arrived on the scene. Before the number of native beaver were reduced to the degree they have been today, their dams dotted the landscape of North America, eventually making many valleys and bottomlands greener and more lush. No reason it can't happen here with the removal of man-made obstacles. Critters and plants already in adjacent areas are there, ready to move back and reestablish themselves if allowed time by man. All in all, I believe 'tis a far more hopeful prospect than you seem to think,
Again, farther north:
California's Shasta Dam soars high above the Sacramento River; any higher, and the Winnemem tribe is history.
I'm just saying that it's a very high profile, expensive, and politically charged venture that should be second place to preserving large areas which we are slowly (or quickly) degrading, but with intervention (not so high profile newsworthy, rah rah, get elected stuff) they could be brought back rather quickly without the great loss HH has already experienced. Two comments: First of all, Path, see
on propagation in aspens--they don't re-propagate well if their roots have been drowned. Second of all: Native species are the animals and plants originally in the area. If there are deer surrounding the flooded area, that were originally living there, they are still a native population for that area. But deer, as all animals, need a balanced ecology to thrive. We saw mule deer herds decimated when the buck brush died back because of the drought here in ID. Not that buck brush is their only feed, but it provides year-round feed, shelter for the winter, and shade in the summer. The pressure the deer then put on other fodder when they were on high summer graze then stripped some areas to the point that high country animals like the big horn were also being impacted. Ground squirrel populations went crazy, badgers and coyotes followed, the already drought stressed ground cover was torn up, and invasive species such as cheat grass, rush skeleton reed, leafy spurge, puncture vine, sand burr, and others have surplanted the native species. The buck brush is back thanks to the rain, but there are areas that are still significantly impacted. Non-native species are opportunistic and invasive. In wilderness situations, they are exactally what you DON'T want, and they're the first things to move in. There's a lot of controversy about invasive species. Someone once said a weed (or invasive species) is only a flower misplaced, but that's looking at things very lightly. I'm using this definition of an invasive species:
Species that displace native species and have the ability to dominate an ecosystem, or a species that enters an ecosystem beyond its natural range and causes economic or environmental harm (Heutte and Bella 2003).
Cheatgrass is the
ultimate invasive opportunistic species in the West
and forever has altered our landscape. For more info, check the
Center for Invasive Plant Management
Maybe we can make something, but we can never put Hetch Hetchy back.
BlueHorse: at least in California, Aspens tend to grow a few thousand feet above the level of Hetch Hetchy. I wasn't proposing them as an introduction to HH, but merely saying that native plants can help areas come back in their zones. I think the confusion we are having is due to your mention of "opportunistic native species" in the earlier comment. I guess I should have realized that you were talking about "non-native" species, but I didn't. I wish I could find the report from a couple of years ago on the restoration of a formerly drowned section of the Colorado River - an area with waterfalls. As I recall, there didn't seem to be much human meddling in its rejuvination, but native plants that were there years ago came back. And, of course, in Cali, we really have no real native grasses, except for a few pockets way in the back country. The Spanish brought in hay for livestock feed way back when they settled California and it contained seed from European grasses which were much more aggressive than the original stuff. They're what give our hills the lion-colored summer hue that's been typical for a few hundred years. (Apparently, the real natives stayed green much longer.) Maybe those have become "native" by default since there's no one alive here who saw the grasses in their original state. But, grass is not really much of a presence at the elevation of Yosemite or HH. Once you're above the foothill level, the only grass you see is in occasional meadows. Our climate is "mediterranean" and the rainy season is November through April. The plants which can survive year round in the Sierras are mostly deep rooted trees, drought resistant shrubs and poison sumac. Another "invasive" species that's been accepted as native here is eucalyptus, primarily in the San Francisco Bay Area and Sonoma County, where it can grow in thick forests. The distinctive shape of the trees means Bay Area to me. Again, I'm sure it supplanted other flora, but they've been here since the 1860s and we've accepted them. You seem very passionate about this issue, and I've never been to Idaho, so can't comment of the results of reforestration there.
MonkeyFilter: maybe throw a few trout in the stream
MonkeyFilter: And was well before Europeans arrived on the scene.
become "native" by default
Yes, this is one of the problems in defining native and invasive/opportunistic flora and fauna. Perhaps I seem passionate because I so seldom get off the fence in so many issues here on the lavender. I'm not against the attempt at Hetch Hetchy, I'm just aghast at watching the slow ruination of so many other places, and the political hay that is made when any small or smaller step is taken. As I say, this is a pretty visible project, and I know how politicians are.
Yes, politics are what will make it or break it. Seems innately wrong to have an area of such natural beauty and one that technically belongs to the federal government given over to serving the interests of a single city (and a city which draws on eight reservoirs other than Hetch Hetchy). Time will tell how well it works, but it seems certain it will never work if folk don't get a start on it.
Sheeeeet, water is a single issue--what about mining on public lands, grazing, yada yada yada. I'm terribly torn about the grazing issue. I eat beef, and the best tasting/cheapest beef is grass-fed. Land that's grazed properly will benefit--especially because we've managed to kill off the buffalo and many other of the larger herbavores. The ranch lifestyle is one I admire greatly. Cows make great trails that I love to ride--I can get into places I'd never be able to ride otherwise, because it would be too rugged, too brushed up, etc. Mining I really have heartburn with. Companies that pay less than a penny for profits of more than a dollar suck.
Ah,yeah, pasturage. Are the California Cows (it's the cheese) commercials shown outside of California? there's a certain amount of wit in them, but they portray how dairy cows are raised today in an egregiously false manner. From BlueHorse's standpoint, it may be a good thing they they never see a pasture, but the bad part is that they never see a pasture. And, those operations bring lots of pollution to an areas which has the worst air quality in the US. Cattle raised for meat, here, do get pasturage, and some of it is on Bureau of Land Management land in the high foothills, but it's my impression that those are fairly small operations. Some are so small that you can sign up to help drive a herd out of the hills since they don't want to pay real cowboys to do it. (I always wanted to do that.) Once they're sold to feedlots, however, the cattle are not so happy. But, since the gold petered out, there's not a lot of minimg in our mountains. I guess I'd have to come to Idaho to see the damage.
Waddle Ranch in the Sierra near Truckee is being preserved
Yeah, the Nature Conservancy has bought up the
in the Owyhees. Hopefully not too little, too late, as it's been sadly overgrazed. This country is extremely fragile and is being degraded rapidly by four-wheelers. Cattle used to be the primary offenders, but you can fence cattle. You can't fence assholes that won't read signs or respect gates/fences. My son mentioned that hunting was lousy due to the ATVs that were violating the no-motorized vehicle laws everywhere he went. He normally gets a tasty little little spike buck for us by hiking in, packing out, and doing the cutting and wrapping. Not this year. I'm a big believer in having to work for your meat. Keeps you aware of lots of things, like killing and harvesting an animal is serious, bloody, hard work and should be done with respect and gratitude for the animal. If you have to eat it, you won't run it around until it tastes like shit from all the adrenaline in it's system.
If he can't hunt for meat, he could still hunt for sport. When does ATV season start?
Gotcha, Homie! good one
On a divisive dam, a snippy bit of graffiti: An anonymous band of artists paints a huge pair of scissors and a long dotted line on obsolete Matilija Dam near Ojai. The message? Tear the thing down already.
That's pretty good. Got the point across without the significant hostility that painting a bomb would engender.