Thanks to a generous land donation, Yosemite National Park will grow by an additional 400 acres of wetlands and meadow habitat on its western boundary. It is the largest planned expansion for the California park in nearly 70 years, said Tim Ahern of the group Trust for Public Land.
The San Francisco-based conservation group purchased the land, known as Ackerson Meadow, from private owners for $2.3 million earlier this year. On Thursday, Trust for Public Land donated the estate to Yosemite National Park.
The new addition encompasses forests and meadows that blossom with wildflowers. It's also home to several types of wildlife, including songbirds and black bears.
Yosemite National Park Superintendent Don Neubacher called it a "generous donation" that will "preserve critical meadow habitat."
"This meadow is a remarkable gift to the American people, coming at a historic time as we celebrate the Centennial of the National Park Service," he said in a statement.
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The donation was made possible through a partnership with the National Park Service, the Trust for Public Land and the Yosemite Conservancy, which provides grants to the park in order to preserve it.
The latest addition is the largest since 1949.
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But not everyone had supported the expansion plans.
The local newspaper reported that residents of Tuolumne County had wanted the land to stay private so their cattle would have a place to graze.
Yosemite is the country's fourth most popular national park, generating $535 million in economic benefits, according to the park. Located in California's Sierra Nevada mountains, the park is home to Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in North America, and rock formations such as Half Dome and El Capitan.
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