WASHINGTON -- Yosemite National Park would grow by 1,575 acres under a bill on Capitol Hill.
Written by a Democrat and backed by local Republicans, the Yosemite expansion legislation could have a leg up on other national park bills being shopped around Congress. But in an environment where public lands ownership also can push political buttons, advocates still have their work cut out for them.
"This is a challenging Congress to move things through," Laurie Wayburn, president and co-chief executive officer of the San Francisco-based Pacific Forest Trust, said Tuesday. She added, though, that "this is one of those rare, common-ground movements. Yosemite has a very special place in Californians' hearts."
The legislation, introduced last month by Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, authorizes the National Park Service to expand Yosemite's western boundary through the addition of several adjacent Mariposa County parcels. The park service could buy the designated land, located near an existing resort development called Yosemite West; in theory, the agency also could accept donated property or acquire it through a land swap.
The Pacific Forest Trust currently owns about half of the 1,575 acres covered by the bill, and a consortium of medical professionals owns the other half. The nonprofit trust bought its share about seven years ago with the long-term goal of conveying it to Yosemite, Wayburn said. The doctors had bought the land as an
The landowners' anticipated scenario now is that federal Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars would be used to buy both parcels once the National Park Service secured its authorization, Wayburn said.
"The inclusion of these lands within Yosemite will be critical to saving money for local communities and preserving the integrity of one of our nation's most celebrated places," Costa wrote Monday in a letter asking for a hearing by the House subcommittee on national forests, parks and public lands.
Yosemite currently spans 761,266 acres, 17th among parks nationwide.