Yosemite National Park has grown by 400 acres, the park announced Wednesday, marking its largest expansion since 1949.
Ackerson Meadow, a critical wetlands and meadow habitat near the park’s Big Oak Flat entrance on the western side, was donated to the park after being purchased from private owners for $2.3 million by The Trust for Public Land.
“It’s a stunning open meadow surrounded by forest habitat, which supports a wide variety of flora and fauna species and offers new meadow experiences for park visitors,” Yosemite National Park Superintendent Don Neubacher said in a statement. “This meadow is a remarkable gift to the American people, coming at a historic time as we celebrate the Centennial of the National Park Service.”
The National Park Service last month celebrated the 100th anniversary of its founding.
The original plans for Yosemite in 1890 included Ackerson Meadow, according to the president of the nonprofit Yosemite Conservancy.
The The Trust for Public Land donated the land Wednesday to the National Park Service. Funds for its purchase came from contributors to the trust, including a $1.53 million bequest from an unspecified source.
“Donating the largest addition since 1949 to one of the world’s most famous parks is a great way to celebrate the 100th birthday of our National Park Service – and honor John Muir’s original vision for the park. We are delighted, and proud to make this gift to Yosemite, and the people of America” said the trust’s president, Will Rogers, in the statement.
The Yosemite Conservancy contributed $520,000 toward the purchase, and additional support came from nonprofits the National Park Trust and American Rivers.
Meadows represent just 3 percent of the approximately 1,169 square miles in Yosemite, but they are home to one-third of all the plant species found in the park.