National Park Donation Must Overcome Bureaucratic Hurdle

MARTINEZ (CBS SF) — A conservation group wants to donate land to expand the East Bay’s John Muir National Historic site, but it will take an Act of Congress for it to become a reality.

John Muir once lived in a house in Martinez and it was in the hills beyond his backyard where he found inspiration.

“He reflected on his journeys to the Sierra (in the hills behind his home). He reflected on these special places we now call National Park,” said Tom Leatherman, the superintendent of the site. “But it was just an idea when John Muir was here.”

The National Park Service preserved the land near the home including Mount Wanda, named for Muir’s eldest daughter and Strentzel Creek, named after his father-in-law. Now, a conservation group wants to add even more space to this place.

“This is all about donating an additional 44 acres to the original 325 for people to enjoy in the spirit of John Muir,” said Linus Eukel, Executive Director, John Muir Land Trust.

But there is one obstacle. Because the donation is larger than 10% of the original site, the law says the Park Service cannot accept the gift without literally getting an Act of Congress. The last time they tried, the bill died in the Senate.

“It’ll be donated to the National Park Service,” Eukel said. “That means it’s everybody’s land.”

Congressman Mark DeSaulnier and Senator Kamala Harris have announced they’re reintroducing the bill to acquire the extra land. They seem confident they can prevail in the struggle to accept a no-strings-attached gift.

So one day soon the public may be able to walk the same path as John Muir did and let their imaginations take flight as well.

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