“Despite stubborn heat and wind over the Labor Day weekend, firefighters battling the Rim fire burning into Yosemite National Park tightened their grip around the historic blaze and turned their focus to what caused it. …
“Full containment isn’t expected for two weeks — the area burned is larger than Dallas or San Diego — and investigators aren’t sure what started it.
“For nearly two weeks, the nation has been transfixed by wildfire spreading through Yosemite National Park, threatening to pollute San Francisco’s water supply and destroy some of America’s most cherished landscapes. As terrible as the Rim Fire seems, though, the question of its long-term effects, and whether in some ways it could actually be ecologically beneficial, is a complicated one.”
“As the Rim fire has burned into Yosemite National Park and into the record books, it has been watched around the world. From Washington, D.C., National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis said he monitored the blaze’s progress daily as flames threatened Sierra Nevada communities, ancient sequoia groves and the reservoir that holds San Francisco’s water supply.
“On Saturday, he went to see the blaze firsthand.”
“As the Rim Fire continues to roar in and around Yosemite National Park, a debate is buzzing over how much political gridlock in Washington is affecting the ability to prevent and fight wildfires across California and beyond.”
From the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), dated August 28:
“Water — There is no change or impact to the delivery of high quality water from Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. As a precautionary measure, and consistent with normal system operations, we have increased the amount of water delivery from Hetch Hetchy to our local reservoirs in the Alameda and Peninsula areas. We continue to meet all our customer needs for water. Turbidity levels remain at 0.2 NTU, unchanged since before the fire began.
“Power — All of San Francisco’s municipal electric customers continue to b
“The giant wildfire burning in and around Yosemite National Park struck the shores of the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir Tuesday, threatening the famously pure mountain water that feeds the taps of 2.6 million Bay Area residents.
“San Francisco water managers, who operate the reservoir, reported that water quality had not been compromised.
“With an enormous wildfire in the Sierra Nevada posing a potential threat to San Francisco’s water supply, city officials were busy planning Monday how to divert water from other sources in case their main reservoir — the Hetch Hetchy, which sits 170 miles east of the city and serves about 2.6 million people — were to grow clouded with falling ash.”
From the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC):
“There continues to be no change or impact to water quality or delivery from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. …
“On Monday morning 70 crew members were dispatched to Cherry Oil Road and the Kirkwood Power House to continue assessment and repair work along the roadway and at the powerhouse. … All of San Francisco’s municipal customers continue to be fully supplied; there will be no interruption in electric service.
“Last month, the National Park Service was granted a five-month extension of the Merced River Plan by a federal court. This is the third attempt to finalize the Merced River Plan for Yosemite National Park since the flood of 1997, which heavily damaged facilities and structures in Yosemite Valley.”
The National Park Service’s proposed Merced River Plan was the forum topic with KQED Host Michael Krasny and these guests: Greg Adair, director of Friends of Yosemite Valley; Paul Rogers, environment reporter for the San Jose Mercury News and managing editor of KQED’s science and environment unit; Ron Sundergill, senior director of the pacific region at the National Parks Conservation Association, which supports the Merced River plan for Yosemite; Tom McClintock, representative of the 4th District of the U.S.
“A National Park Service plan to remake Yosemite National Park aims to restore meadows, reduce traffic congestion and scale back human activity. But it is igniting a fierce debate among environmentalists, campers and state officials about whether these lands are meant to be nature preserves, tourist destinations or both.
“Yosemite National Park‘s long-running effort to finish a protection plan for the Merced River will take a little longer.
“The U.S. District Court in Fresno Thursday granted a delay in the controversial plan until Dec. 31. It was supposed to be completed by July 31 — a date set by a previous request for a delay. Yosemite needs time to process more than 30,000 comments received this year on the draft.”
“The Merced River, which runs through the heart of the mile-wide Yosemite Valley, is at the core of the planning process for the future: How to deal with recurring flood issues – remember the flood of winter 1996-97? How to deal with the potential of significant rock falls – remember the 2008 Glacier Point rock fall? How to preserve and restore wild and scenic features of the river.”