Sonora, CA — The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors voted to create a study group to review a non-profit group’s plan to buy Ackerson Meadow so that it can be donated to Yosemite.
The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors are deciding whether to contest the action, and if they feel it is in the best interest of the local residents. The Trust For Public Land has agreed to purchase the 400 acres from a private seller with plans to donate it to the National Park Service, so that the boundaries of Yosemite can be expanded.
At Tuesday’s Supervisors meeting, several spoke in favor of the land transaction. For example, Lee Zimmerman of Evergreen Lodge and Rush Creek Lodge touted the potential economic benefits it would bring to Tuolumne County, John Buckley of CSERC spoke about environmental aspects, and Patrick Koepele of the Tuolumne River Trust mentioned recreational benefits.
However, some of the county Supervisors expressed concerns about the proposal. District Two Supervisor Randy Hanvelt noted that there are several factors to consider. He stated, “I don’t believe that the U.S. Forest Service or the National Park Service have a good track record of managing things. All you have to do is look at what happened at Rim Fire, a fuel loaded fire, and they have to be responsible for that.”
Some other speakers, and members of the Board of Supervisors, noted concerns about the negative impact that it could have on the grazing industry, which has already been dealt several blows over recent decades. There are also unanswered questions about the ability to carry firearms when passing through the area, as several hunters us the area roads during the season. Board Chair John Gray noted that it is a “complicated” matter. Personal property rights also came up in discussion, as the owner is personally choosing to donate the land to benefit Yosemite.
78% of land in Tuolumne County is publicly owned.
The decision to create a study group was approved 5-0.