Yosemite National Park in California may be the benefactor of a new bill on capital hill which seeks to make the park bigger by 1,575 acres.
Written by a Democrat and supported by California republicans, the Yosemite bill would mark the first expansion of the park in 70 years.
California Congressman Jim Costa authored the bill, titling it the Yosemite National Park Boundary Expansion Act of 2012. The bi-partisan sponsorship includes Dan Lungren (R-CA), Mike Thompson (D-CA), and Jeff Denham (R-CA).
Introduced last month, the bill would expand Yosemite’s western boundary by adding several parcels of land from neighboring Mariposa County.
Currently, the bill is being considered by the House Committee of Natural Resources before it is passed on to the House and the Senate for voting. So far there has not been a companion bill drafted in the Senate.
The Pacific Forest Trust owns about half of the 1,575 acres covered by the bill, which the PFT would donate should the bill pass.
The park service would likely purchase the rest of the land from private interests, like Yosemite West, a private resort development.
According to a press release from The Pacific Forest Trust, the landowners in the sought-for areas are willing to sell their parcels to the park.
“Adding these (areas to the park) will protect the headwaters of tributaries of the Merced, a federally designated Wild and Scenic River, as well as an important wildlife habitat corridor,” according to the PFT press release. “It will enable a new recreational trail in an underserved portion of the Park. And, it will save local communities—as well as the Park Service—money by avoiding the need to provide costly services to these remote properties.”
Yosemite is currently 761,266 acres, making it the 17th biggest park in America.
Read more about the expansion efforts at the PFT webpage here.