Posts Tagged ‘Yosemite’

Next year (2014) marks the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Yosemite Land Grant by President Abraham Lincoln.  And it looks like the “Crown Jewel of the National Park System” is going to grow with age.  A proposal was introduced to congress by Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representative Jim Costa, both from California.  It is currently working its way through the federal government, and will add 1,600 acres to the western edge of the park next year!  The tract of land is currently owned by a combination of  private individuals and a group called the Pacific Forest Trust, and it includes foothill habitats and overlooks central valley of California.  The private land will be purchased and the Pacific Forest Trust is donating the rest.

I think this is really wonderful event.  Admittedly, if you look at a map of Yosemite and see what 1,600 extra acres adds, you will probably not be impressed.  In comparison to the whole park, 1,600 acres is a tinny little addition, but it is exactly through small increases that large tracts of land can be protected.  And protecting large tracts of land is the best way to insure that biodiversity will be preserved in the future.  Especially in the face of climate change, we don’t really know how the ecosystems of the world are going to change.  Generally, species are likely to move towards the poles and up the sides of mountains, but the world will be rife with exceptions to those general trends.  Preserving lands in large enough pieces to allow for taxa to move around, or move into a new area, and still find suitable habitat is the smartest strategy for insuring that as many species as possible are able to persist.

Stemming from biogeography there has been an ongoing debate in conservation circles for about half a century about they best way to preserve land in order to protect biodiversity.  One side focuses on preserving large tracts of land even though there will be few of these tracts.  The other says that many small tracts will more effectively preserve overall biodiversity.  But, both sides agree that the best outcome of all is many large tracts.  So, we as a society should attempt to increase the size of any preserve any time we can.  If that means buying a small tract of land and creating a preserve where there was none before, that is terrific.  If it means adding to a small preserve and so making it somewhat larger, that is also terrific.  If it means adding to a preserve that is already very big, like Yosemite National Park, that is terrific as well and should not be trivialized.

So, after the addition is added to the park, go out and visit the new portion of Yosemite!

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