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Help Pacific Forest Trust Add 1,600 Acres to Yosemite National Park for All to Enjoy!

Authored by Hannah Oakes

From the soaring granite face of Half Dome, through the Great Valley, along the meandering John Muir Trail, and across serene Tuolumne Meadows—Yosemite National Park is a geological treasure and shrine to natural beauty.

Photo courtesy of Pacific Forest Trust

As the National Park Service gets ready to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Yosemite Grant from Congress in 2014, the Park faces new challenges: Development encroaching from the western boundary of Yosemite. The Pacific Forest Trust (PFT) has been working over eight years collaboratively with the National Park Service to buffer the park’s western boundary through land protection. The Yosemite National Park Boundary Line Adjustment (BLA) will enable the Park Service to purchase additional private holdings from willing sellers and complete the original vision of John Muir.

Proposed Yosemite Expansion Will:

  • Connect Habitats: 1,600 acres will create continuous parkland between Sierra National Forest and Yosemite National Park, and protect migration corridors for wildlife.
  • Protect Biodiversity: including Pacific fisher, Sierra red fox, Goshawk and Cooper’s hawks, great Gray and Long-eared owls, wolverines, Congdon’s Woolly Sunflower, Congdon’s Lewista and the Yosemite Popcorn-flower.
  • Expand Recreation: a promising new recreation trail with views of the Wild and Scenic Merced River and the Coast Range and bouldering opportunities. (see photos)
  • Safeguard Water: the headwaters of Indian and Zip creeks, which flow into the Merced River—a National Wild and Scenic River.
  • Save Money: for the surrounding county where providing adequate services to wilderness areas is prohibitively expensive.
  • Reduce Fire Risk: for the Park, counties, and Forest Service.

Photo courtesy of Pacific Forest Trust

Pacific Forest Trust

Pacific Forest Trust speaks for the trees . . . and the water that quenches 25-million thirsty Californians . . . and the myriad wildlife that call the Klamath-Cascade region their home . . . and the local residents that depend on forests for their livelihoods and wood products. We’re a think-and-do-tank of scientists, conservationists, policy wonks, entrepreneurs and outdoor enthusiasts that have helped shape forest conservation and climate policy nationally for over 20 years. Our work has one aim: keep forests as forests for all the benefits they provide.

Successes to Date

  • Yosemite Expansion Act introduced in the U.S. Senate and House by Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Costa (D-CA 16th). Current co-sponsors include Boxer, Huffman, Cardenas, Honda, Lee, Chu, Lowenthal, Schiff, and Cartwright.
  • Republican elected officials produced a video urging support for the expansion.
  • Letters of support from the Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, the Mariposa County Board of Supervisors, Yosemite West Property & Homeowners, Inc., Yosemite West Associates, Yosemite Conservancy, and others.
  • The California State Senate unanimously approved a joint resolution supporting the expansion.
  • The Senate Energy and Natural Resource’s Subcommittee on National Parks conducted a hearing on the bill in July, and a hearing before the full committee on Energy and Natural Resources is due in 2013 or early 2014. These are necessary first steps before the bill can pass the Senate.

Challenges to Our Work

  • Although the expansion enjoys strong bipartisan support, a few remaining Congressmen do not see the urgency in the expansion bill, and are hampering forward progress.
  • Potential conversion of this forestland to development, which destructs and fragments landscapes.
  • A lack of people’s awareness of the source of their natural resources including clean air, fresh water and timber.

Call to Action

This expansion is more than an addition to Yosemite—it is a historic restoration. Adding lands into Yosemite will help to complete John Muir’s revolutionary vision that sparked much of the region’s conservation. Whether you are interested in preserving the biodiversity, expanding recreation or helping the regional economy—PFT hopes that you help us with this historic protection by supporting the Yosemite Expansion Bill or donating to PFT directly.

What People Have to Say

“[Yosemite’s] popularity is also its greatest challenge. New development in Yosemite West would increase the threat of fire, habitat fragmentation and degradation of creeks that flow into the park. Conservation efforts led by the Pacific Forest Trust have protected 800 acres west of the park, but the park’s boundary must be adjusted to allow the National Park Service to acquire these adjacent lands.” – Senator Feinstien (D-CA)

“From Yosemite Falls to Half Dome to Tuolumne Meadows, there is no debating that Yosemite is one of our national treasures that must be preserved for future generations. This legislation marks the commitment of Californians from all walks of life to protecting and building on the legacy of the last 150 years.” – Representative Costa (D-CA 16th)

“One hundred years ago, when my great grandfather Major John Bigelow Jr. was the superintendent of Yosemite, one of the great challenges of the day was management conflict with private holdings in and around California’s first and greatest park.  Subsequent boundary changes and acquisitions resolved many of those issues, with a couple notable exceptions, including this area.  I’m pleased to join Mariposa County is supporting this adjustment to Yosemite’s boundary, and I look forward to seeing this area added to the Park.” – Assemblymember Frank Bigelow (R-Jackson)

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