Yosemite park buys 400-acre property on its western border, the largest expansion in nearly 70 years

California’s Yosemite National Park just got bigger by 400 acres, the largest single addition it’s seen in the last 70 years.

Image credits Adam Kool.

Yosemite National Park is the third most visited national reserve in the U.S., featuring strikingly beautiful waterfalls and the towering relief of the High Sierras. And it just got a whole lot bigger with the acquisition of Ackerson Meadow, a 400-acre property of wetlands and rolling hills teeming with endangered wildlife on the park’s western boundary. The area was bought for the park by conservation group Trust for Public Land (TPL) for US$2.3m (£1.7m).

The land was previously used for logging and grazing cattle. TPL says that the land is “a gentler landscape than the imposing granite cliffs of Yosemite Valley, a dozen miles to the east,” with a thriving ecosystem that will be carefully preserved by park authorities. The area is known to house at least two endangered species, including North America’s largest species of owl, the great grey owl.

The land was previously owned by Robin and Nancy Wainwright, who acquired it in 2006. Mr Wainwright said that he received other offers for the land, most notably a lucrative offer from a developer which planned to build a resort on it. But, he says, you can often see bears strolling through the meadow or owls flying over the fields in spring — and he hadn’t wanted that experience to be available only to visitors who could afford to stay in a resort.

“To have that accessible by everyone, to me is just a great thing. It was worth losing a little bit of money for that,” he added.

Park spokesman Scott Gediman said Yosemite’s boundary had seen some minor changes over the years but the addition of Ackerson Meadow was the largest expansion since 1949. He said that the Trust for Public Land had contributed US$1.53m for the purchase, with the rest being covered by the Yosemite Conservancy group and anonymous donors.

So hats off to the Wainwrights — the more people start appreciating what natural parks are worth, the better.

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