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Yosemite Grant Act Gave Birth to the National Park Idea and Inspired the Creation of Hundreds of National Parks in the United States and Worldwide
Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein (both D-CA) today praised the passage of their resolution honoring the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Grant Act, legislation signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1864 that permanently protected the Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove.
“In 1864, in the middle of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln had the foresight to set aside land in the Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove that would become one of America’s most iconic national parks,” Senators Boxer and Feinstein said. “This resolution honors that simple act 150 years ago, which protected Yosemite’s natural treasures for future generations to enjoy and helped launch the National Parks movement.”
On June 30, 1864, President Lincoln signed legislation enacted by Congress that established Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove as the first protected wild land for all time. A half century later, in 1890, the land around these two tracts was designated as Yosemite National Park. In 1906, at the urging of conservationist John Muir, President Roosevelt and state authorities combined Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove with Yosemite National Park.
As the first land grant to protect wild lands, the Yosemite Grant inspired the creation of more than 400 National Park units in the United States and hundreds more worldwide, including sister park relationships in foreign countries.
Yosemite National Park is home to spectacular waterfalls, deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient sequoias and vast swaths of wilderness. Yosemite receives more than 4 million visitors each year and has 1,504 campsites, two federally designated Wild and Scenic Rivers and more than 800 miles of trails. The national park has a landmass of 1,169 square miles, which is comparable to the size of Rhode Island, and has designated wilderness that covers more than 94 percent of the park.
In 2013, Senators Feinstein and Boxer and Congressman Jim Costa introduced the Yosemite National Park Boundary Expansion Act to modify and expand the park’s boundaries by 1,600 acres to help protect these vital areas from potential development.