Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hetch Hetchy and Salmon

In Saturday's Fresno Bee, columnist Bill McEwen opines that "the dam in Yosemite's Hetch Hetchy Valley must come down if salmon are to thrive again in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta". He cites numerous dam removal and reoperation efforts underway to accomplish salmon restoration across the country as well as the historic importance of spawning grounds within the Tuolumne watershed.

Let's be clear that there is no evidence that salmon ever spawned as far upstream as Hetch Hetchy. All dams and diversions from rivers do, however, have downstream effects. We at Restore Hetch Hetchy support management of the Tuolumne and other rivers in a way that sustains healthy fisheries downstream and provides for urban and agricultural water needs as well.

Restore Hetch Hetchy has not previously considered salmon restoration as a primary reason for restoring Hetch Hetchy Valley. Instead we have focused on the benefits that would take place upstream in Yosemite National Park, where the spectacular valley has been unavailable to human visitors, as well as to fish and wildlife, since completion of O'Shaughnessy Dam in 1923. We look forward to developing a plan to restore the valley that improves conditions for salmon as well.

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