Why one couple gave 400 acres of pristine meadow to Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite is one of the crown jewels of the U.S. National Park Service.

It's also — pardon my French — très grand! (Very big!)

Yosemite National Park being huge. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.


Clocking in at over 1,000 square miles, Yosemite takes up a massive chunk of California. It's so big you could fit over 63 million Cheez-It crackers in it (according to some math I did myself). I don't know why you would, but you could. Before you attempt it though, consider this:

400 acres are about to be added to Yosemite, and the new land is awesome in nearly every way.

It's the park's biggest expansion since 1949, and the land, named Ackerson Meadow, previously belonged to private owners Robin and Nancy Wainwright.

Ackerson Meadow was historically used for logging and cattle grazing. The land was ripe for development.

Dayum. Photo by Robb Hirsch for the Trust for Public Land.

It's like a Disney movie — picture a sprawling, pristine meadow filled with an abundance of happy, doe-eyed creatures. Now imagine a mean ol' land developer building a big strip mall on top of it. That's what could've happened to Ackerson Meadow.

Luckily, things never got that far. The Wainwrights, who recognized the natural beauty of their land, decided to sell it to the Trust for Public Land, a nonprofit conservation group, for $2.3 million. The trust then donated the land to Yosemite.

Photo by Robb Hirsch for the Trust for Public Land.

The Wainwrights reportedly lost a couple hundred thousand dollars on the sale but knew it was the right decision regardless.

"To have [the land] accessible by everyone to me is just a great thing. It was worth losing a little bit of money for that," Robin Wainwright explained.

The protection of the National Park Service is also a big deal, as the meadow is home to several endangered or protected species.

Including this stern-looking great gray owl.

"Sup." Photo by Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images.

Great grey owls are huge, badass birds that hunt gophers with their bare talons and have been known to live up to 40 years. Males impress lady owls by kissing food into their mouths, a beautiful and delicate process that I would like to henceforth refer to as "gopher-frenching."

In California, they're an endangered species. In fact, the vast majority of great gray owls live in Yosemite, which means the newly added land will serve as further protected habitat.

Yosemite might be huge, but the 400 acres will still add some diversity to the park's already stunning landscape.

Ackerson is largely made up of wetlands and a grassy meadow, which is quite different from Yosemite's iconic granite cliffs.

"Neat! My lens cap is on!" Photo by Robb Hirsch for the Trust for Public Land.

Different landscapes mean biodiversity, and biodiversity means a healthier ecosystem as well as a host of benefits for the planet Earth, which is where we live!

A win like this for Yosemite is truly a win for all of us.

Pending a small legal snafu, Ackerson Meadow will be added to Yosemite National Park, and everyone will benefit.

Not only will a beautiful crop of land receive well-deserved protection and conservation from the National Park Service, but it'll be open to the public, which means we'll all get to enjoy it. You can even go try to spot one of those owls if they're not busy gopher-frenching potential mates.

"It's not funny." Photo by Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images.

Protecting that land will have a long-lasting effect on the environment writ large too, as protected forests help reduce greenhouse gases.

People come from all over the world to see national parks and marvel at their natural beauty. The land owners could've sold their magnificent plot for a hefty profit, but instead they decided to share it with the world.

In that sense, we all profit.

Photo by Robb Hirsch for the Trust for Public Land.

Most Shared

Abigail Disney is the granddaughter of the late Roy Disney, the co-founder of the Walt Disney Co. Abigail herself does not have a job within the company, but she has made some public complaints about the way things are being run and how it is effecting the employees of the company.

Disney recently spoke on the Yahoo News show "Through Her Eyes," and shared a story of how a Magic Kingdom employee reached out to her about the poor working conditions at the theme park. So, Disney went to see for herself, and she did not like what she found.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Wellington District Police

Some animals have no respect for authority. Rogue penguins are disobeying the police in New Zealand, and they can't stop, won't stop.

Two little blue penguins were spotted at Sushi Bi near the Wellington railway station, allegedly trying to nest. The penguins had to cross through busy lanes of traffic running between the harbor and the sushi bar.

The dangerous duo was detained by the police, then released back into Wellington Harbour.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature

Netflix

How much of what we do is influenced by what we see on TV? When it comes to risky behavior, Netflix isn't taking any chances.

After receiving a lot of heat, the streaming platform is finally removing a controversial scenedepicting teen suicide in season one of "13 Reasons Why. The decision comes two years after the show's release after statistics reveal an uptick in teen suicide.

"As we prepare to launch season three later this summer, we've been mindful about the ongoing debate around the show. So on the advice of medical experts, including Dr. Christine Moutier, Chief Medical Officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, we've decided with creator Brian Yorkey and the producers to edit the scene in which Hannah takes her own life from season one," Netflix said in a statement, per The Hollywood Reporter.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
Magnific Eye / Unsplash

Los Angeles is experiencing a homeless epidemic that was years in the making.

Over the past six years, the unhoused population in the city has risen 75 percent. The city's lack of homeless shelters and affordable housing has forced many who can't afford L.A.'s sky-high rents to live on the streets.

According to LAist, since 2000, renter incomes have decreased by 3 percent while rents have gone up 32 percent.

While the city has launched a $100 million-per-year program to help the problem, rapper, entrepreneur, and actor Jaden Smith has found his own way of responding to the crisis: love.

Keep Reading Show less
Communities