The giant, only partially contained Rim Fire has has burned 134,000 acres in Yosemite National Park in California, and caused the closure of the White Wolf area of the park on its western side, said Yosemite spokesman Tom Medema.
Flames have already consumed 15,000 acres within Yosemite, a park known for its waterfalls, giant sequoia groves and other scenic wonders, by Sunday afternoon, up from just over 12,000 acres in the morning, he said. On Sunday, the fire moved to within 2 miles of the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, which serves 85 percent of San Francisco with water, according to San Francisco Public Utilities Commission spokesman Tyrone Jue.
Of course, there are always the terrible fire stories of homes lost, people displaced, dogs and horses lost and burned. Wild animals burned alive with their forest homes.
The water supply for San Francisco that is now threatened, is from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. That reservoir used to be a beautiful valley filled with flowers, trees and animals, but in 1913, congress took Hetch Hetechy out of the National Park system, and flooded the entire valley to create the reservoir to supply San Francisco with water.
The famous naturalist, John Muir, led a campaign, along with the Sierra Club, to protect the Hetch Hetchy Valleyfrom being turned into a reservoir. But in spite of the one of the first grassroots campaign, Congress passed the Raker Act in 1913 allowing the city of San Francisco to destroy Hetch Hetchy Valley. The City of San Franciscobuilt a dam and the reservoir, drowning this beautiful valley, even though other less-damaging sites existed.
When John Muir was on his deathbed, he said the only thing in his life that he regretted, was the destruction of the Hetch Hetchy valley.
And now it is being destroyed again, this time by fire.
Maybe John Muir had some advance knowledge of the value that water was going to
have in the American West in future years. With continuing climate change, there will be more and more wildfires, and the fires will be more and more dangerous.
The West and Southwest are headed for serious water shortages in the coming decades, according to former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. According to Salazar, the Western states that depend on the Colorado River and Rio Grande basins will see acute water shortages in the coming years due to the combination of reduced precipitation as a result of climate change and increased demand.
Recent studies from the National Academies of Science, show that climate change is
leading to higher temperatures and increased drought throughout the Southwest, over
the next century.