The National Park Service will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Grant Act on June 30 with a day full of special guests, events and activities.
On June 30, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant Act to preserve Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.
The landmark legislation marked the first time that U.S. lands were set aside for protection. It established the California State Park system and paved the way for the creation of Yosemite National Park in 1890.
“Without the signing of the Yosemite Grant, that area may not have been protected or developed into the amazing national park it is today,” said Lisa Mayo, of the Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau. “It was very key in protecting that area so everyone can enjoy it.”
Yosemite gets about 4 million visitors a year. Nearly 30 percent of those visitors travel through Groveland to use the park’s Big Oak Flat entrance on Highway 120. That makes it an important source of tourism revenue for Tuolumne County.
According a recent study, Yosemite National Park contributed more than $300 million annually to the economies of communities within 60 miles of the park in 2012.
A number of special events commemorating the sesquicentennial have been held over the past year in Yosemite and its surrounding “gateway” communities, including Groveland and Sonora.
For the full story and schedule of events, see the June 23, 2014, edition of The Union Democrat.