Yosemite Grant's 150th Birthday Party

The proclamation that started the national park receives a tribute.

JUNE 30, 1864: Yosemite has long been a place of peace, of big sequoias and of Half Dome and waterfalls and meadows and rivers and some of the largest granite rocks seen anywhere, titans that rise hundreds of feet from the place where you stand. But it hasn't always been Yosemite National Park, a protected, wild space where people may come to contemplate, reflect, and connect with nature. The famous, find-it-in-the-middle-of-California national park's story has a definitive start date and a definitive person connected to its beginning: Abraham Lincoln. The sixteenth president of the United States signed the land grant, a grant that preceded the creation of Yellowstone National Park by some seven-plus years (though Yosemite's national park status would officially arrive in 1890). "The Yosemite Grant was the first land grant to protect wild lands for the enjoyment of people," reads Yosemite This Year, which is a succinct summary of the heart and soul of the grant. Over the last several months the sesquicentennial has been feted in art and words around the state, but the date itself will see a host of celebratory activities around the park.

MARIPOSA GROVE: The home to some of the grandest trees on earth is about to undergo a restoration project, including the moving of a parking lot. The aim? Return it to, or at least get it closer, to its wilder, stiller, more sanctuary-like origins. The restoration project gets its kick-off ceremony on June 30, complete with speakers and the California Mounted Patrol. There's a shuttle in to the free event, so get the details.

YOSEMITE VALLEY VISITOR CENTER: Make for a Shared Heritage Fair where "fun, interactive, and educational booths" will serve attendees. Several representatives from a number of agencies will be in the house -- or park, rather -- talking about programs in the park. "A special ceremony' in the afternoon will mark the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Grant; the public is welcome to join.

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