Open the SF Watershed to Hikers, Cyclists & Equestrians
This petition had 643 supporters
Less than ten miles south of San Francisco lies what would be to the SF Peninsula what the Point Reyes National Seashore or Mount Tamalpais is to Marin, an open space so vast and wonderful that is almost unimaginable. I believe that an effort to open the SF Watershed to public access is not only a worthy goal, but an obtainable one. To do this we first need to spread the knowledge of what the SF Watershed is, what’s in it, and its historical significance to the public who owns it.
The official reasons provided by the SFPUC why the public is excluded from this land are to protect water quality and wildlife. Yet, these arguments against public access seem strange and logically inconsistent. There are public trails on the western shore of Crystal Springs Lake and San Andreas Lake a stone’s throw from the water. The trails in the closed watershed start a thousand feet up and a mile away from the reservoirs.
The wildlife protection argument is equally perplexing. Hikers share Pt. Reyes National Seashore with herds of Elk and Mountain Lions. There has been no connection between public access and wildlife destruction on Mount Tamalpais, Sweeny Ridge, Purisima Creek Redwood Open Space, San Bruno Mountain, or any other of the parks on the San Francisco Peninsula. The residents of the area who visit these parks have proven to be respectful of the wildlife for decades. The roads in the watershed are maintained by large weed whacking machine and are routinely used by service vehicles.
The SF Watershed has some of the most important historical sites in the Bay Area, and because it has been closed for so long much of this history is forgotten from public consciousness. The untold history inside the watershed is as important as the Bay Area discovery site, Mission Dolores, the Barbary Coast Trail, or any of our historically important places.
Pilarcitos Dam was completed in 1867 right after the civil war. Designed by master engineer Herman Schussler it was a marvel of engineering for its time. The dam created the first reliable water source for San Francisco, Pilarcitos Lake. Water was shipped to the city via a redwood flume powered by gravity. Before this development water in San Francisco was sold by the barrel. Without water the city would not have grown, when you consider how much the San Francisco Bay Area has shaped the history of the world, it puts into perspective how important this dam is to our cultural history. There is at plaque at Pilarcitos Dam placed in 1967 at the one hundred year anniversary of the dams construction. It is a plaque paid for with public money, on public land, that no one in the public is allowed to see.
So the question remains, if water quality and wildlife protection are not the real reason the SF Watershed is closed, what is the real reason. Tom Steinstra, writer for the SF Chronicle has long speculated that the SF Water department is trying to hide from the public view, the homes and infrastructure that it has built in this place. Mr. Steinstra has been inside the watershed many times both legally and illegally and is amazed by the amount of areas for relaxation that are apparently only for SFPUC employees or privileged visitors to the watershed. All of this, built with public money on public land.
The fact remains however that this is public land and we (the public) have an interest to access it. Access to the SF Watershed for activities as simple as hiking, or mountain biking would make this an even more wonderful place to live.
Today: Open the SF Watershed is counting on you
Open the SF Watershed needs your help with “San Francisco Public Utilities Commission: Open the SF Watershed to Hikers, Cyclists & Equestrians”. Join Open the SF Watershed and 642 supporters today.