Hetch Hetchy - Issue Guide (Downloadable PDF)
This issue guide was developed by the Autry Museum of the American West in collaboration with the Kettering Foundation as part of the Historic Decisions series. It is designed to stimu- late deliberation about a complex historical issue by examining the difficult choices Americans faced at the time.
The guide is set in 1913 as the U.S. Senate was preparing to vote on the Raker Bill, a legislative
proposal that would grant San Francisco the right to construct a reservoir in California’s Hetch Hetchy Valley along with infrastructure to transport the water. The plan sparked a nation- wide debate—the first of its kind—about the costs and benefits of resource development. It also exposed tensions between competing views about environmental stewardship and our relationship to nature—views still deeply held and widely debated today.
The actions presented in the text are based on ideas or proposals actively considered in 1913. But the ideas were generated at a time when many Americans were excluded from public dis- course and democratic decision making. For the purposes of dialogue and deliberation, the guide explores a broad cross-section of views—including those less widely heard in 1913 as the nation struggled to decide the fate of Hetch Hetchy.
This Historic Decisions issue guide presents the following three options for deliberation:
Option 1: Protect the valley against development
Option 2: Direct resources to where they are most needed
Option 3: Give control to the local people of Hetch Hetchy