Yosemite and the Birth of the National Park Service.


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First protected in 1864, Yosemite was the inception of an idea that would later be the mission of the National Park Service…that it “preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations”.

The Yosemite Act
The Yosemite Grant Act, signed by President Abraham Lincoln on June 30, 1864.

On October 1st, 1890, President Benjamin Harrison signed the legislation to create Yosemite National Park. This added protected land from the Yosemite Grant Act of 1864, signed by President Abraham Lincoln. In somewhat typically lengthy legal language, U.S.C. title 16, sec. 48 reads “That there shall be, and is hereby, granted to the State of California the “cleft” or “gorge” in the granite peak of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, situated in the county of Mariposa, in the State aforesaid, and the headwaters of the Merced River, and known as the Yo-Semite Valley, with its branches or spurs, in estimated length fifteen miles, and in average width one mile back from the main edge of the precipice, on each side of the valley, with the stipulation, nevertheless, that the said State shall accept this grant upon the express conditions that the premises shall be held for public use, resort, and recreation; shall be inalienable for all time; but leases not exceeding ten years may be granted for portions of said premises., which protected Yosemite Valley and a Mariposa grove of giant Sequioas.”

So this Act protected the land, and the state of California managed it. In 1890, a Congressional Act created Yosemite National Park partially (if not significantly) by noted preservationist and “Father of National Parks”, John Muir. The Act actually expanded the area, and the Park was under jurisdiction of the Army. Upon the National Park Service’s formation in 1916, the Park was transferred there.

This conservationist idea essentially takes a part of the country to say…you know what, this land should be protected for everyone to enjoy. As our country grew in the 1800s especially, land would be used for homesteads, lumbering and more. Towns popped up. Cities grew. But an establishing of a National Park says, woah…where this land is, that will stop. And this is why we can still enjoy an area like Yosemite even today in virtually untouched glory.

I encourage you to watch this video titled Yosemite: Inspiring the National Parks Movement. It shares about the park, as well as the significance of conservation as a whole. And there are some absolutely incredible sights to behold.

Have you been to Yosemite? What were your experiences like?

Photos courtesy of nps.gov.

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