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History of Yosemite

Ransome Ranch of Yosemite National Park

When Congress first established Yosemite National Park, they followed the proposal of Sierra Club founder John Muir for the park's boundaries. As debate on this proposal ensued, stock and timber owners, military administrative officials, mountaineering clubs, and local newspapers drifted into two opposing camps, and once again a struggle developed between those who wished to preserve the mountains and forest for the public and posterity and those who wished to use the land for commercial purposes. The timber company which owned a portion of the land proposed for the park by John Muir lobbied Congress successfully to have this property near El Portal on the western boundary of the park not included in the park lands.

Now, a picturesque landscape of sugar pine, incense cedar and white fir trees will be protected from development under a deal between the Pacific Forest Trust and the Ransome Family. Owned by the same family since 1925, the 730-acre Ransome Ranch was purchased by the Pacific Forest Trust, an environmental organization based in Santa Rosa.

"By protecting this property we can help fulfill John Muir's original vision, and help restore the values that he recognized were worthy of park protection," Laurie Wayburn, President of the Pacific Forest Trust, said.

The old Ransome Ranch is located to the south of another such property, Yosemite West, a collection of privately owned home, condominiums and vacation rentals homes located just outside the park's boundary about five minutes south of the turnoff to the Badger Pass Ski Area.

There had been talk of building 19 ranchette homes on the ranch, but this type of development could have put a strain water systems, sewage systems and traffic. Environmentalists and parks officials worried about this occurring. ``Protection of this land was one of our highest priorities,'' said Yosemite superintendent Mike Tollefson.
Also, the property links the Sierra National Forest with Yosemite, preserving unbroken habitat for great gray owls, deer, mountain lions and other species. ``For the wildlife that connection is critical,'' Wayburn said. ``Preserving this property also limits development pressure on the park.''

The Pacific Forest Trust collected donations from private parties and purchased the property from Jim and Bob Ransome, whose grandfather bought it in 1925. Terms were not released, although public records filed with the Mariposa County Assessor's Office indicate the land was sold for about $1.3 million. "This land and landscape have been in our family for many years," said Jim Ransome. "We have seen the impact of development here, and want to ensure that this special place is protected for generations to come."

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