POD 30 Section Three Cover
Section Three Cover (and backcover) – Florence Hutchings

Florence Hutchings was "the first white woman to be born in Yosemite" back in 1864. She really did hang out (at seven) with John Muir when he was there. OTL, she died at seventeen while leading a group of tourists around. Basically, a big rock fell on her.

Seeing someone born in Yosemite, and friends with John Muir, grow up to become involved in the conservation movement is really not all that much of a stretch – it'd be a surprise if she didn't at least have a passing interest in such.

This is about the time that Tulare Lake starts getting drained – mostly because irrigation water is diverted away from it, but also because the big land owners in the San Joaquin Valley want to use all that nice land currently underwater. This is the era where "improve land" and "drain it" are synonyms, after all.

I honestly don't know if there was much more than minor interest by any conservation group in saving the lake – it was pretty much gone by WWII on OTL. But it's quite possible that one person – here, Florence – could whip up a major movement towards preserving it. Now, how successful this would be is another thing all-together – on the whole I'd say "not very." But for the purposes of a more interesting ATL, the dice fell double-six and Tulare Lake – the largest body of water in California – was saved and later became centerpiece of a National Park.

Possible butterflies are:
Big land owners in the Central Valley get a major setback in getting their way – something that I don't think has ever happened on OTL. Things like that can get to be a habit. The California Water Project – that aqueduct I mentioned in the "Lake Cahuilla" scenario above – was built more for them than it ever was built to supply water to Los Angeles (there are still single farms in the San Joaquin that use more water than all of San Diego...). Maybe in an ATL where they don't always get their way, one of those ways they don't get is this one. And the biggest water project ever built by a state (and bigger than 95% of the Federal ones) dies stillborn.

In order for Florence to have a chance to save Tulare Lake, she has to increase the number of conservation-minded people in California big-time. That's not only going to affect the survival of Tulare Lake, but is going to affect how things are done in California (and elsewhere) right down to now.

"She's" (well, someone is going to have to – it'll probably be someone other than her, but at her instigation) going to have to do research on the importance of wetlands to provide ammo for making her case – and if she succeeds, a lot less wetland is going to be drained. Maybe a few fisheries don't collapse because of that (and they're still canning sardines in Monterey – rather than selling stuffed otter dolls out of converted canneries). Maybe a few billion less dollars need to be spent after hurricanes and floods and whatnot because fewer people are living in drainage areas (heck, even Tulare Lake can make a brief comeback here after really heavy rains – I should know, I drove through it...). Or maybe that should be a few hundred billion less dollars.

Because the San Joaquin Valley is now much more scenic, I don't drive quite as fast up and down the 5. Because of this, the exhaust problem I had on my '76 Civic doesn't happen two-hundred miles from home and I don't damage my engine. The Civic lasts another year or two, giving me ample time to save up that down-payment so that I get a much lower interest rate over a much shorter time. Thus, I have more money for things...and who knows what I'll spend that on...