Happy Birthday, Yosemite National Park!

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October 1st celebrates the 125th anniversary of the creation of Yosemite National Park, though the story begins even earlier.

On October 1st, 1890, President Benjamin Harrison signed the legislation to create Yosemite National Park. This added protected land from the Yosemite Grant Act of 1864, signed by President Abraham Lincoln. In somewhat typically lengthy legal language, U.S.C. title 16, sec. 48 reads “That there shall be, and is hereby, granted to the State of California the “cleft” or “gorge” in the granite peak of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, situated in the county of Mariposa, in the State aforesaid, and the headwaters of the Merced River, and known as the Yo-Semite Valley, with its branches or spurs, in estimated length fifteen miles, and in average width one mile back from the main edge of the precipice, on each side of the valley, with the stipulation, nevertheless, that the said State shall accept this grant upon the express conditions that the premises shall be held for public use, resort, and recreation; shall be inalienable for all time; but leases not exceeding ten years may be granted for portions of said premises., which protected Yosemite Valley and a Mariposa grove of giant Sequioas.”The Yosemite Act

So this Act protected the land, and the state of California managed it. In 1890, a Congressional Act created Yosemite National Park partially (if not significantly) by noted preservationist and “Father of National Parks”, John Muir. The Act actually expanded the area, and the Park was under jurisdiction of the Army. Upon the National Park Service’s formation in 1916, the Park was transferred there.

This conservationist idea essentially takes a part of the country to say…you know what, this land should be protected for everyone to enjoy. As our country grew in the 1800s especially, land would be used for homesteads, lumbering and more. Towns popped up. Cities grew. But an establishing of a National Park says, woah…where this land is, that will stop. And this is why we can still enjoy an area like Yosemite even today in virtually untouched glory.

There have been celebrations for some time now, from exhibits to special tours…even a Fresno State football game took time to commemorate the anniversary and educate fans about the park that is pretty much right in their backyard. For the actual day, there will be speakers, dignitaries and of course, cake, to celebrate 125 years (even though some of the rock formations are over 10 million years old…better late than never!).

I encourage you to watch this video titled Yosemite: Inspiring the National Parks Movement. It shares about the park, as well as the significance of conservation as a whole. And there are some absolutely incredible sights to behold.

Have you been to Yosemite? What were your experiences like?

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