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.

Photo by Maxim Hopman on Unsplash

The Sam Vimes "Boots" Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness explains one way the rich get richer.

Any time conversations about wealth and poverty come up, people inevitably start talking about boots.

The standard phrase that comes up is "pull yourself up by your bootstraps," which is usually shorthand for "work harder and don't ask for or expect help." (The fact that the phrase was originally used sarcastically because pulling oneself up by one's bootstraps is literally, physically impossible is rarely acknowledged, but c'est la vie.) The idea that people who build wealth do so because they individually work harder than poor people is baked into the American consciousness and wrapped up in the ideal of the American dream.

A different take on boots and building wealth, however, paints a more accurate picture of what it takes to get out of poverty.

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Katie Peters shared a day in the life of pandemic teaching and pleaded for teachers to be given grace.

Teachers are heroes under normal circumstances. During a pandemic that has upended life as we know it, they are honest-to-goodness, bona fide superheroes.

The juggling of school and COVID-19 has been incredibly challenging, creating friction between officials, administrators, teachers, unions, parents and the public at large. Everyone has different opinions about what should and shouldn't be done, which sometimes conflict with what can and cannot be done and don't always line up with what is and isn't being done, and the result is that everyone is just … done.

And as is usually the case with education-related controversies, teachers are taking the brunt of it. Their calls for safe school policies have been met with claims that kids aren't at risk of severe COVID, as if teachers' health and well-being are expendable. Parents' frustrations with remote or hybrid learning are taken out on the teachers who are constantly scrambling to adjust to ever-changing circumstances that make everything about teaching more complicated.

Superheroes, seriously.

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This article originally appeared on November 11, 2015


Remember those beloved Richard Scarry books from when you were a kid?

Like a lot of people, I grew up reading them. And now, I read them to my kids.

The best!

If that doesn't ring a bell, perhaps this character from the "Busytown" series will. Classic!

Image via

Scarry was an incredibly prolific children's author and illustrator. He created over 250 books during his career. His books were loved across the world — over 100 million were sold in many languages.

But here's something you may not have known about these classics: They've been slowly changing over the years.

Don't panic! They've been changing in a good way.

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