California senators introduce St. Francis Dam Memorial Act

Dan Watson Crosses and flowers stand as a memoriam to the 341 confirmed dead at the base of the "pyramid", a large piece of the St. Francis Dam that was rolled hundreds of yards downstream when the dam broke. 030615

To honor the 431 people who died in the St. Francis Dam Disaster, California’s two U.S. senators introduced a bill on Thursday that would memorialize their lives.

The St. Francis Dam Disaster National Memorial Act, coauthored by Senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein, would create a 440-acre memorial funded by private donations in remembrance of the 1928 disaster in San Francisquito Canyon.

“We should not forget the hundreds of lives lost during one of the worst tragedies in California’s history,” Harris said in a statement. “And while this monument will serve as a reminder of the consequences of a failure of infrastructure, it offers a lesson going forward.”

In terms of the number of lives lost, the St. Francis Dam Disaster is California’s second-largest tragedy.

“This monument will honor the more than 400 lives lost and serve as constant reminder of how critical investments in dam and infrastructure safety are to our communities,” Feinstein said in a statement. “That message is just as true today as it was when this horrible event occurred.”

Harris and Feinstein’s legislation is a companion bill to Congressman Steve Knight’s St. Francis Dam Memorial Bill. The new senate bill was done in coordination with Knight’s office.

“Although the St. Francis Dam Disaster directly affected our local Santa Clarita community, the heartbreak spread throughout state of California,” Knight said in a statement to The Signal. “Our community has been waiting long enough to see this terrible disaster recognized and I thank Sen. Feinstein and Sen. Harris for taking this legislation one step closer to becoming law.”

Knight’s bill, coauthored by Julia Brownley (D-Westlake Village), passed unanimously in the House of Representatives in July after it was reintroduced in April. The representatives introduced a similar bill the legislative session before, but time ran out before the Senate could vote on it.

If the Senate bill passes, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture would establish the memorial and the U.S. Forest Service would manage it.

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