U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today introduced the Yosemite National Park Boundary Expansion Act of 2013, a bill to modify the park's boundary to protect vital areas from potential development. Senator Barbara Boxer joined the bill as an original cosponsor, and the bill was also introduced today in the House of Representatives by Rep. Jim Costa.
The legislation expands Yosemite National Park by approximately 1,600 acres, incorporating lands first proposed for inclusion in the park by conservationist John Muir. This boundary adjustment will allow the National Park Service to acquire these lands from willing sellers, thereby protecting natural resources along Yosemite's western boundary and ensuring these pristine lands are preserved in perpetuity.
"Yosemite is truly a national treasure," Senator Feinstein said. "It was first protected by President Lincoln in 1864, the first federal land set aside specifically for conservation purposes. Protection was enhanced by Congress in 1890, establishing Yosemite as one of our first national parks and paving the way for the creation of the National Park Service.
"But 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.
"It's important to note that ownership of private inholdings within the proposed boundary line adjustment area will not be affected in any way, and would only become part of Yosemite National Park upon voluntary sale, donation or exchange by the landowners."
The Yosemite National Park Boundary Expansion Act expands Yosemite's boundary to accommodate the donation or sale of these acres so they will be permanently protected within the park.
In addition to protecting the right of private landowners whose land falls within the new boundary line, the bill also does not commit the federal government to purchase private inholdings, but would allow such acquisitions if Congress appropriates funds for that purpose in the future.
"I am so pleased to support this important legislation that further preserves Yosemite National Park for future generations," Senator Boxer said. "This plan would add approximately 1,600 acres of forest while protecting important waterways and natural habitats that make Yosemite such a pristine treasure for Californians to visit."
The proposed boundary expansion has broad, bipartisan support including California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird, 47 members of the California State Legislature, the Mariposa County Board of Supervisors, two former Yosemite National Park Superintendents, adjacent landowners and homeowners association, the Yosemite Conservancy, the Sierra Club and Environment California.