Yosemite National Park gained 400 acres this week in the park’s largest expansion in nearly 70 years.

The new land is on the western side of the park and contains meadows, cedars and ponderosa pines. It is critical habitat for several endangered species, such as the willow flycatcher and a biologically unique population of 200 great gray owls.

Private landowners Robin and Nancy Wainwright sold the property to conservation nonprofit Trust for Public Land, which then handed it over to the park. The Wainwrights had owned the land since 2006.

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“This meadow is a remarkable gift to the American people, coming at a historic time as we celebrate the centennial of the National Park Service,” said Yosemite Superintendent Don Neubacher.

The Rim Fire in 2013 jeopardized negotiations for the land, as it burned a huge swath of land around the property.

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“The former landowners thought it was worth more than the appraisers we hired, but we were patient,” David Sutton, the Trust for Public Land’s California director, told the Los Angeles Times. “No one can drive past this property without stopping and saying, ‘Wow. Isn’t that gorgeous?'”

Reprinted with permission from E&E Publishing

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