Plan to add Yosemite acreage stalls

By Alex MacLean, The Union Democrat

A conservation organization says a Mother Lode lawmaker is effectively blocking legislation in Congress that would expand the size of Yosemite National Park.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., introduced a bill last year that would allow the National Park Service to incorporate a 1,500-acre parcel of forested land into Yosemite's more than 761,000 acres. The bill is identical to one introduced at the same time in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Jim Costa, D-Fresno.

The legislation has received widespread support from Mariposa County lawmakers, area landowners and the Pacific Forest Trust, a nonprofit group that owns most of the land in question.

However, Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Granite Bay, whose district includes Tuolumne and Calaveras counties, has not embraced the proposal.

"I want to assure that the acquisition is done in the public interest and that we're not simply bailing out someone's bad real estate deal," McClintock said Wednesday. "It's not going to be developed, so calling upon taxpayers to pay millions of dollars for it is unreasonable.

"Acquiring it without any idea of what we're doing with it - or what degree of access the public will have to it - is problematic to me," he said. "I think all that needs to be spelled out before we move forward."

McClintock's lack of support has halted further progress on the legislation, according to Laurie Wayburn, co-founder and president of the Pacific Forest Trust.

For the full story, see the June 19, 2014, edition of The Union Democrat.

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