YOSEMITE (KCBS) – One of the nation’s first national parks reached its 120th “birthday” Friday.
Yosemite was designated a national park on October 1, 1890. It was third to be designated a national park in the United States, after Yellowstone and Sequoia.
KCBS Melissa Culross Reporting:
Yosemite’s designation as a national park did plenty to jump-start Americans’ interest in the great outdoors.
“One, it really helped start this whole movement of national parks across America,” declared Yosemite National Park Superintendent Don Neubacher. “And then the second thing it really helped generate this national and international movement to develop national parks in over 100 countries now.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, initially, park preservation wasn’t an easy sell for everyone. Neubacher pointed to the expansion still taking place in the late 19th Century.
“It took a major effort in Congress and these were debated,” he said. “It was decided that we would set aside special places. Our heritage, really, for the nation, for future generations.”
Neubacher credited Yosemite with helping people realize the need for preservation.
“Americans back then knew there wasn’t an endless source of land to be used so they wanted to make sure these really spectacular spots like Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon could be preserved for future generations.”
Neubacher added that the seeds for preservation were planted well before Yosemite was coined a national park.
“The initial park goes way back to 1864 when President Lincoln signed legislation that established the first area in the country to ever be preserved for scenery and recreation.”
In 2010, an estimated 4 million people were expected to visit Yosemite.
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