This undated photo provided by The Trust for Public Land shows Ackerson Meadow in Yosemite National Park, Calif. Visitors to the park now have more room to explore nature with the announcement on Wed. Sept. 7, 2016 that the park's western boundary has expanded to include Ackerson Meadow. (Robb Hirsch/The Trust for Public Land via AP)
Beautiful grasslands added to Yosemite
September 12, 2016
Robin Wainwright could have cashed in on the pristine grassland and forest he owned. It is located along the border with Yosemite National Park. He might have built an upscale resort for a few lucky guests.
Instead, Wainwright and his wife Nancy decided to take a slight loss on their investment. They sold it to a land trust. On September 7, the land was donated by the trust to Yosemite.
It expands the park by 400 acres. That is Yosemite's largest addition in nearly 70 years. Yosemite is in California's Sierra Nevada Mountains.
The public will soon be able to enjoy the wildlife and natural scenery. These include the explosion of flowers that blossom each spring. And bears that often stroll through the property.
"To have that accessible by everyone to me is just a great thing," Robin Wainwright said. "It was worth losing a little bit of money for that."
Ackerson Meadow is located along Yosemite's western boundary. The area was purchased for $2.3 million from private owners. It was bought by the Trust for Public Land. That is a nonprofit conservation group. The group then donated the land to the park.
Officials told The Associated Press that Yosemite will preserve the land. Yosemite will preserve it as habitat for wildlife such as the great grey owl. That is the largest owl in North America. It is listed as endangered by California wildlife officials.
Shaun Crook is president of the Tuolumne County Farm Bureau. Crook said that not everybody supported turning the private property over to the government.
He said the grassy Ackerson Meadow has fattened beef cattle and been used for logging for at least a century.
"That will no longer happen," Crook said. He added that both industries are being squeezed out of business. "I fear we'll lose the value of that meadow."
The park's boundary has seen some minor changes over the years. But this expansion is the largest since 1949. Yosemite has nearly 750,000 acres total, park spokesman Scott Gediman said.
More than 4.5 million people are expected to visit Yosemite this year. Gediman said that would set a record for the park. It celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2015.
There are other draws to the park. Those include the massive Half Dome rock. It also includes the sheer, granite face of El Capitan. Both are admired by visitors from the floor of Yosemite Valley.
Elsewhere in the park stand groves of giant sequoia trees. They are some of the oldest and largest living things on Earth.
Visitors pass Ackerson Meadow on their way to Hetch Hetchy reservoir. It provides drinking water to San Francisco.
The land was bought with $1.53 million from the Trust for Public Land and $520,000 from the Yosemite Conservancy. The conservancy supports a variety of projects in the park. Anonymous donors contributed the rest, Gediman said.
The land completes the park's original plans from 1890. It included Ackerson Meadow, said Yosemite Conservancy's President Frank Dean.
"It's a stunning open meadow surrounded by forest habitat, which supports a wide variety of flora and fauna," said Park Superintendent Don Neubacher.
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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
How did the sellers get paid if the land was donated?
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