Thursday, July 16, 2020

Sierra Club officials ‘don’t know what to make’ of Hetch Hetchy measure

From the days of John Muir, the Sierra Club has lobbied to restore Hetch Hetchy, an alpine valley in Yosemite National Park inundated by a reservoir in the 1920s.

But the club’s San Francisco Bay chapter says it doesn’t know what to make of Proposition F, a measure on the San Francisco municipal ballot in November.

Chapter Director Michelle Myers said in a phone interview today that the club is taking no position on the measure, which is sponsored by the environmental group Restore Hetch Hetchy, which its founder describes as a Sierra Club spin-off.

The measure would require the city to develop a plan for draining the reservoir, which provides water and electricity for millions of people and returning the valley to the U.S. Park Service for restoration.

The idea is opposed by most San Francisco officials, who claim that it would leave the city vulnerable to blackouts and water shortages.

Myers declined to discuss the local chapter’s concerns about the measure, saying she would release a statement on the topic later.

Spokesman Mark Westlund said the national Sierra Club organization still supports restoring the Hetch Hetchy Valley, which Muir said was nearly as lovely as Yosemite itself.

The club is taking no position on the San Francisco measure because “the local chapters are in disagreement” about it, he said.

On its website, the Restore Hetch Hetchy group lists the Sierra Club and 13 chapters as among supporters of the idea of draining the reservoir.

In an email, Mike Marshall, executive director of the Restore Hetch Hetchy group, wrote that the local club chapter had not endorsed the measure.

“The Sierra Club has not changed its longstanding position of support for restoring Hetch Hetchy,” he wrote. But he said that “a minority of the voting members have been arm-twisted by our opponents.”

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