The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

March 28, 2012
Feinstein sees Hetch Hetchy in its natural state - in a painting

Hope springs eternal. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, it appears, deeply appreciates Hetch Hetchy Valley in its natural state -- at least in a painting.

Behind the senator's desk is a painting of Hetch Hetchy Valley -- with beautiful trees and the Tuolumne River meandering through. No dam or reservoir. Communications Director Brian Weiss writes that, "Senator Feinstein is a fan of 19th century art, particularly paintings that depict California landscapes. She has also hung scenic paintings of Yosemite and San Francisco in the Washington office."

The painting is "The Hetch Hetchy Valley On The Tuolumne River, California" (1878) by Frank Henry Shapleigh, a Boston artist who was the first to paint the Hetch Hetchy Valley. Shapleigh had spent six weeks in Yosemite and met John Muir, who wrote about a July 1870 visit: "Oh, what a world is there! I passed, no, I lived another night there two weeks ago, entering as far within the veil amid equal glory, together with Mr. Frank Shapleigh of Boston. Mr. Shapleigh is an artist and I like him. He has been here six weeks, and has just left for home."

This is the same Sen. Feinstein who has written, "There is simply no feasible way to replace the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, return the valley to its original condition and still provide water to the Bay Area."

The Hetch Hetchy Valley, however, does not have to be a "lost" landscape, appreciated as one might appreciate a painting of the extinct Labrador Duck. Seven major studies since the 1980s have said Hetch Hetchy Valley could be restored without adversely impacting San Francisco's water supply.

It may be wishful thinking, but perhaps the painting behind the senator's desk might inspire a new Feinstein vision of what Hetch Hetchy Valley could be in the future -- with the reservoir drained and the river allowed to take up its winding path again.

About Comments

Reader comments on are the opinions of the writer, not The Sacramento Bee. If you see an objectionable comment, click the "report abuse" button below it. We will delete comments containing inappropriate links, obscenities, hate speech, and personal attacks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. See more about comments here.

What You Should Know About Comments on is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)

Here are some rules of the road:

• Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "report abuse" button to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.

• Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.

• Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.

• Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand. If you want to discuss an issue with a specific user, click on his profile name and send him a direct message.

• Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.

• Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.

• Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.

• Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.

You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "report abuse" button to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.

If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them, but you may ask our staff to retract one of your comments by sending an email to Again, make sure you note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us your profile name.

hide comments

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.

About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

October 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31    

Stuart Leavenworth on Twitter

Follow "SacBeeEditBoard" on Twitter