Happy 75th birthday, Kings Canyon National Park! | High Sierra Topix  

Happy 75th birthday, Kings Canyon National Park!

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Happy 75th birthday, Kings Canyon National Park!

Postby ERIC » Wed Mar 04, 2015 8:46 pm

Happy 75th birthday, Kings Canyon National Park!

Woody Smeck
Visalia Times Delta
12 a.m. PST March 4, 2015

On March 4, 1940, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed legislation creating Kings Canyon National Park. The new park encompassed 454,000 acres of pristine Sierra Nevada wilderness.

Kings Canyon National Park absorbed lands once part of General Grant National Park (established in 1890; abolished upon designation of Kings Canyon National Park) and was quickly expanded by Presidential Proclamation to include Redwood Canyon and its magnificent giant sequoia groves.

Today, one-half million people find solace within this wild and scenic setting. Largely forgotten is the 60-year struggle at the turn of the 20th century to create the park. Powerful hydroelectric interests from Los Angeles were battling irrigation and agriculture interests from the San Joaquin Valley for water storage and diversion licenses in the Kings River watershed.

Early assessments prepared by the Federal Power Commission showed the potential for 19 dams and reservoirs on the south fork of the Kings River. Cedar Grove and Tehipite Valley would be inundated – similar to Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite.

When these assessments proved unreliable, tourism and preservation interests seized an opening and began lobbying for preservation. A compromise negotiated by Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, under the direction of President Roosevelt, led to development of water storage facilities in lower stretches of the Kings River, thereby preserving the pristine upper watershed as a national park.

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