SACRAMENTO (AP) — More than a century ago John Muir argued that Congress should include a wildlife corridor with stunning vistas of the Merced River in the boundaries of Yosemite National Park. He lost to timber interests.
Now with the old-growth Ponderosa pine and cedar long gone, a California nonprofit is trying to make good on the famed environmentalist’s vision. Pacific Forest Trust has agreed with a group of private landowners to sell the 1,600-acre parcel to the National Park Service.
The addition of land on the western boundary near El Portal would be the 761,000-acre park’s first expansion in more than 70 years.
“It has a magnificent view of the Wild and Scenic Merced River, and it’s also a migration corridor for deer,” said Laurie Wayburn, president of the forest trust group. “This was always meant to be a part of the park.”
The federal government would use money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which collects fees from offshore oil drilling fees to acquire sensitive land and easements.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Jim Costa introduced bills on Tuesday to modify the boundary of the park that hosts 4 million visitors a year.
Besides logging, the land that would be included in the expansion has had pressure from development. It surrounds the Yosemite West subdivision that would not be included in the sale.