Yosemite National Park may soon expand by another 1,500 acres, bringing it closer to what John Muir imagined more than a century ago.
A plan to add additional land to the park–an area currently the size of Rhode Island–has bipartisan support, and bills to adjust Yosemite’s boundary have been introduced in the House and Senate.
The future protected area is located on the western side of the park, about 11 miles southwest of Glacier Point. It surrounds the Yosemite West Subdivision, which would not be included in the expansion. Click here to download a map of the proposed addition.
About half of the land is owned by the Pacific Forest Trust. The trust acquired the acreage in 2004 with the mission to protect it from development until it could be added to the park. The remaining property belongs to a group of private investors who are willing to sell.
The expansion would help create more jobs and reduce the threat of substantial development in the area.
In the Senate, Senators Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer co-sponsored a bill called the Yosemite National Park Boundary Expansion Act of 2013. In a statement, Feinstein explained her support and reasons why the expansion is important.
"...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 [by Congress] to allow the National Park Service to acquire these adjacent lands."
Within the House of Representatives, Jim Costa (D-Calif) introduced another bill.
“Yosemite holds a special place in the hearts of all Californians, and that’s why we have had broad bipartisan support line up behind this proposal,” Costa said. “As we approach Yosemite’s 150th anniversary, there is no more fitting tribute than recommitting ourselves to protecting the park and restoring it to John Muir’s original vision.”
To learn more about the project, visit National Parks Traveler.