2006 Student Research Conference:
19th Annual Student Research Conference

Social Science

Why We Should Give a Dam: The Hetch Hetchy Controversy
Elizabeth M. Ryan
Dr. Thomas Zoumaras, Faculty Mentor

Naturalist John Muir led the environmental campaign to prevent the damming of the Tuolumne River to create the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir to provide San Francisco with a needed source of water. The Progressive ideology of Chief Forester Gifford Pinchot and President Theodore Roosevelt supported the construction of the dam in order to shift the municipal water supply from private power to public power. The Hetch Hetchy controversy illustrates the permanent split between conservationists and preservationists in the United States. The environmental controversy also involved city leaders consciously violating the Raker Act, the mandate to construct the dam that prohibited the sale of any water or hydroelectric power to a private company. The controversy associated with the damn project lives today as Muir’s environmental heirs have been working to restore the valley to its original state within the Yosemite National Park.

Keywords: History, Conservation, Environmentalism, Progressive

Topic(s):History

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 28-4
Location: VH 1232
Time: 10:30

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