This fall, San Franciscans will vote on a local measure that could return to the American people a flooded gorge described as the twin of Yosemite Valley.
Voters will decide whether they want a plan for draining the 117-billion-gallon Hetch Hetchy reservoir in Yosemite National Park, exposing for the first time in 80 years a glacially carved, granite-ringed valley of towering waterfalls.
|As it was. The magnificent Hetch Hetchy Valley before it was dammed. (AP Photo/University of California, Berkeley)
With its soaring granite cliffs and spouting waterfalls, Yosemite's Hetch Hetchy Valley was described by conservationist John Muir as "one of Nature's rarest and most precious mountain temples." But much of the valley now lies submerged under 300 feet of water
The city of San Francisco leases the valley for $30,000 a year.
The measure could eventually undo a controversial century-old decision by Congress that created the only reservoir in a national park. It pits Republicans and environmentalists against Democratic San Franciscans, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who are fighting for the city's pure water supply.
If the measure passes, voters would decide in four years whether to carry out the plan.
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