John Muir


John Muir


Richard A. Ballinger


NATIONAL PARKSCALIFORNIA BRANCH302 MILLS BUILDINGSAN FRANCISCODirectors of California BranchMR. JOHN MUIR, President, MartinezDR. WM. F. BADE, Vice-President, BerkeleyMR. W. S. GOULD, OaklandMRS. JAS. B. HUME, BerkeleyMR. CHAS. KEELER, BerkeleyPROF. J. N. LE CONTE, BerkeleyMRS. KATHARINE MILLER, BERKELEYPROF. W. C. MORGAN, BerkeleyMR. E. T. PARSONS. San FranciscoREV. WM. T. PATCHEL, San JoseMR. WILLOUGHBY RODMAN, Los AngelesMR. GEO. EDWARDS, Secretary, 302 Mills Building, S. F.MRS. R. V. COLBY, Treasurer, 302 Mills Building, S. F.MR. ALLEN CHAMBERLAIN, BostonMR. ASAHEL CURTS, SeattleMR. HENRY E.GREGORY, New-YorkMR. ROBERT UNDERWOOD JOHNSON, New-YorkMISS HARRIET MONROE, ChicagoMR. J. HORACE MCFARLAND, Harrisburg, Pa.MR. JOHN W. NOBLE, St. LouisMR. ALDEN SAMPSON. New YorkMR. C. H. SHOLES, PortlandMR. Edmund A. WHITMAN, BostonSan Francisco, April 20, 1909.Honorable Richard A. Ballinger,Secretary of the Interior,Washington, D.C.Sir:-The Society for the Preservation of National Parks, representing a national sentiment that has already-powerfully expressed itself in no unmistakable terms through the medium of the public press, and composed of thousands of adherents living in every State and Territory of the Union, respectfully petitions you to reopen and review the decision of your Department of May 11, 1908, whereby the City and County of, San Francisco was granted a permit to flood the Hetch Hetchy Valley in the Yosemite National Park, and we base our petition upon the following grounds:-1. In making said grant said Department' exceeded its jurisdiction, and said grant is null and void, because it violates the provisions of the Act of Oct. 1, 1890 (26 Stat. L. 650), which directs the Secretary of the Interior to make regulations "for the retention in their natural conditions of all ... natural curiosities or wonders within said reservation".2. In making said grant said Department did not take into consideration the fundamental question involved, to-wit: The necessity for making said grant; but in the terms of the very decision itself, the then Hon. Secretary stated: "In "considering the reinstated application of the City of San "Francisco, I do not need to pass upon the claim that it is "the only practicable and reasonable source of water supply "for the City."3. The exparte statements of the Hetch Hetchy advocates decided the question with the former Secretary, who said in his decision, "It is sufficient that after careful and "competent study the officials of the City insist that such "is the case". He did not have before him the data as to other available sources, with one or two exceptions, and hence could not by any possibility have passed on the vital and primary question involved, to-wit: The necessity for granting the destructive privilege.4. That there are many other sources of supply available for the City of San Francisco, and which are economic possibilities, and the evidence of the existence of which will be furnished if this petition be granted:5. That the whole question was treated as though the rights of ninety millions of citizens of the United States to one of its greatest National Parks were not involved. They should be given an adequate hearing where their sentiment and voice in the matter may be heard.6. The whole question was already res.judicata on May 11, 1908, for a former Secretary of the Interior had,on Dec. 22, 1903, on a rehearing, denied this same application.7. That the Hetch Hetchy Valley is, next to the incomparable Yosemite Valley, the greatest scenic feature of the Yosemite National Park, and the use of the valley as a reservoir for a municipal water supply will utterly destroy the Valley as a place of resort, and will, as a sanitary precaution, involve the withdrawal of the finest half of the Yosemite National Park from that free and unrestricted travel by the people of the Nation, to which it was dedicated by Congress in 1890.WHEREFORE, your petitioners respectfully pray that your Honor reopen, review and reconsider said decision of May 11, 1908, with a view to revoking said grant of the use of Hetch Hetchy Valley for the purpose therein described, and in furtherance of said object we respectfully request:1. That the opinion of the Hon. Attorney General of the United States as to the validity of the grant of May 11, 1908, be secured;2. That your Honor hold additional hearings at which your petitioners may have opportunity to present new and additional evidence of the availability of other sources of water supply for the City of San Francisco, and new and additional evidence as to the sentiment of the people of the United States in relation to this disposition of a National property, and also new and additional evidence as to the effect of such grant in operating as a practical withdrawal of one-half the National Park from the use of the Nation.3. That if a hearing be ordered in the City and County of San Francisco, that all persons andassociations possessing available sources of water supply be invited to present evidence indicating such availability, and the terms on which they may be acquired by the City of San Francisco;4. That a Board of competent, disinterested engineers be appointed to represent the United States, and consider such evidence presented by such persons and associations, and to make independent investigation. of the various available sources of supply, and to render an opinion as to the practical and economic necessity of the use of Hetch Hetchy Valley by the City of San Francisco;5. That the sentiment of the people of the Nation as to the desirability of sacrificing the Hetch Hetchy Valley to a use so foreign to the purposes set forth in the Act of Congress of Oct. 1, 1890, and in subsequent congressional action of Feb. 7, 1905 and June 11, 1906, be expressly determined, as suggested by the Honorable E. A. Hitchcock in his opinion of Feb. 20, 1905, rendered at the request of the President "through further legislation by Congress"Respectfully submitted,[illegible]President.[illegible]Secretary.April 28, 1909.Letter to Mr. John Muir.


San Francisco

Date Original

1909 Apr 20


Original letter dimensions unknown.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 18, Image 0378

Copyright Statement

The unpublished works of John Muir are copyrighted by the Muir-Hanna Trust. To purchase copies of images and/or obtain permission to publish or exhibit them, see

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The Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley. Please contact this institution directly to obtain copies of the images or permission to publish or use them beyond educational purposes.

Copyright Holder

Muir-Hanna Trust

Copyright Date



3 pages



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