Saved Our National Parks
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Chapter 8:
The Extension of the System: Yosemite, Sequoia and General Grant National Parks

THE EXPERIMENT INITIATED IN 1865 when Congress granted to the State of California the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Big Tree Grove, while noble in purpose, soon proved to be ignoble in practice. The experiences of the early Superintendents in the Yellowstone were duplicated in the Yosemite Valley, where the attempts of the first administrators to preserve and protect were frustrated by apathy, lack of appropriations, and public hostility bolstered by personal greed. Realizing that state control and management had degenerated into lack of control and mismanagement, a few interested and dedicated men took up their pens, appeared before Congress, filled newspaper and magazine columns with impassioned pleas, and finally convinced Congress that some action must be taken to prevent complete destruction of the lands it had attempted to preserve. Congress replied in 1890 by establishing a forest reservation surrounding the Yosemite Valley. Portions of the public domain containing the giant trees of California were set aside as public parks, and the responsibility for the preservation and protection of these areas was placed in the hands of the Secretary of the Interior. State control and administration of the Yosemite Valley itself continued until 1906, when the Valley was re-ceded to the United States Government by the State of California and made a part of the Yosemite National Park. Using the Yellowstone experience as precedent, the Secretary of the Interior turned, in 1890, to the United States Army, and the Army responded, as it had in the Yellowstone, by providing efficient management and protection for these areas.

The Congressional Act of June 30, 1864, granting the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Big Tree Grove to the State of California, clearly outlined the conditions upon which the grants were made. It provided that they should "be held for public use, resort and recreation" for all time; that leases not exceeding ten years might be granted by the State for portions of the areas, providing that the revenue from such leases would be expended "in the preservation and improvement of the property, or the roads leading thereto"; and that the areas would be managed by nine commissioners, one of whom was to be the governor of the state, all of whom were to serve without compensation and to be appointed by the governor. [1]

Governor Frederick F. Low acknowledged the Congressional grant in 1865 and appointed the first board of commissioners to manage the two areas. [2] When the State legislature met the following spring it passed a law formally accepting the grant and sanctioning the board of commissioners. The act provided that the commissioners were to have full power to manage and administer the grants, including the authority to "make and adopt all rules, regulations, and by-laws for . . . the government, improvement, and preservation" of the land. A "Guardian" was to perform such duties as might be prescribed by the commissioners, and to receive compensation not exceeding $500 per year. The act further provided what the Yellowstone lacked for so many years, a definition of prohibitions and penalties:

It shall be unlawful for any person willfully to commit any trespass whatever upon said premises, cut down or carry off any wood, underwood, tree, or timber, or girdle or otherwise injure any tree or timber, or deface or injure any natural object, or set fire to any wood or grass upon said premises, or destroy or injure any bridge or structure of any kind, or other improvement that is or may be placed thereon. Any person committing either or any of said acts, without the express permission of said Commissioners through said Guardian, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction thereof shall be punished by fine not exceeding five hundred dollars, or by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by both such fine and imprisonment. [3]

The first board of commissioners included Professor J. D. Whitney, William Ashburner, I. W. Raymond, E. S. Holden, Alexander Deering, George W. Coulter, Galen Clark, Governor Frederick F. Low, and Frederick Law Olmsted, who was made chairman. By-laws were immediately drawn up stipulating that the board was to meet twice each year, once in the Yosemite Valley and once in San Francisco. In 1866 Galen Clark, one of the original commissioners, was named as Guardian. No definite code of rules governing the activities of visitors was adopted. Writing some years later, Frederick Law Olmsted stated that he visited the Valley frequently, "established a permanent camp in it and virtually acted as its superintendent." [4]

Had Olmsted remained in California and devoted his energies to the preservation of the Yosemite Valley, it is likely that the history of its care under state supervision would have been far different. Olmsted was one of the few nineteenth-century persons whose foresight and dedication to conservation helped to preserve some elements of nature for later generations. In a report to the California Legislature n 1865, Olmsted pointed out that it had been only sixteen years since the Yosemite Valley was first discovered by white man, yet already hundreds of people were overcoming the difficulties of transportation in order to visit the area, and that "before many years . . . these hundreds will become thousands and in a century the whole number of visitors will be counted by the millions." He warned that an injury to the natural features of the Valley, however slight, would be an injury of "deplorable magnitude." Olmsted then stated what has become the fundamental precept of the National Park Service:

The first point to be kept in mind . . . is the preservation and maintenance as exactly as is possible of the natural scenery; the restriction, that is to say, within the narrowest limits consistent with the necessary accommodation of visitors, of all artificial constructions and the prevention of all constructions markedly inharmonious with the scenery or which would unnecessarily obscure, distort or detract from the dignity of the scenery. Second: it is important that it should be remembered that in permitting the sacrifice of anything that would be of the slightest value to future visitors to the convenience, bad taste, playfulness, carelessness, or wanton destructiveness of present visitors, we probably yield in each case the interest of un counted millions to the selfishness of a few individuals. [5]

Unfortunately, Olmsted did not remain in California to superintend the development of the Valley according to his precepts. In November, 1865, he returned to New York City and again undertook the duties of landscape architect for Central Park. [6] Faced with a variety of obstacles and deprived of Olmsted's leadership, the Board of Commissioners soon found that the activity required of them was exceedingly difficult.

One of the first obstacles to be overcome was the removal of individual settlers who had located within the boundaries of the two grants. Two such settlers proved to be exceedingly reluctant to relinquish their holdings after being invited to do so by the Commissioners, and it was only after a bitter legal battle, culminating with a United States Supreme Court decision, that the claimants reluctantly agreed to accept a monetary compensation for their property and turn it over to the Commissioners. [7]

In their attempts to improve the Yosemite Valley and to make it more easily accessible and comfortable for visitors, the Commissioners were faced with another obstacle—lack of funds. They realized that accommodations, roads, and trails within the Valley should be constructed, but, as in the later case of Yellowstone Park, the moneys were not forthcoming. An initial appropriation of $2,000 for the development of the area was made by the State Act of 1866, but this was soon expended. Succeeding legislatures had somewhat grudgingly appropriated funds for improvement of the grants, but these barely covered the salary of the Guardian. The Commissioners finally had to appeal to private individuals for the capital necessary to construct roads and to erect buildings suitable for public accommodation in the Valley. Ten-year leases were awarded to those who constructed buildings; road and trail contractors were given the exclusive right to collect tolls for a similar period of rime. [8]

Yellowstone NP
Theodore Roosevelt and Colonel Pitcher, Park Superintendent, Yellowstone, 1903. National Park Service.

The letting of leases to private individuals solved the problem of improvement, but it also opened the way for charges of graft, favoritism, the development of virtual monopolies, and eventually, complete estrangement between concessioners, Commissioners, and state legislators. Between 1874 and 1878 some concessioners appealed directly to the state legislature to intervene in disputes between them and the Commissioners, and it was not uncommon for the legislature to completely overrule the Commissioners decisions. The situation rapidly deteriorated as public and private opinion of the Board of Commissioners became more acute and vocal. By 1880 communication between the various interested groups reached an impasse, and the state legislature attempted to dissolve the original board and appoint an entirely new one. [9] There followed a bitter dispute when the members of the executive committee of the first Board of Commissioners stated that they could not legally be dismissed, and refused to vacate office or to surrender any of the property belonging to the Yosemite management. Suit was filed by the state, and the old board finally surrendered when a decision favorable to the state was rendered by the State Supreme Court. [10]

The new Board of Commissioners approached their assigned task with admirable zeal. A full report of existing conditions in the Yosemite Valley was drawn up and presented to the state legislature; the previous Commissioners were charged with gross neglect. The report stated that "most of the available land" in the Yosemite grant had been leased to private individuals for gardens and pastures, that the entire Valley was choked with underbrush, and that the lack of "good carriage roads or trails" was most noticeable. In an appended report the newly appointed Guardian James Hutchings maintained that much of the good timber on the Valley floor had been cut and that the Merced River was choked with driftwood. [11] Later, in an effort to order the chaos, the Commissioners appealed to the State Engineer to formulate a plan for administration of the grant. Drawing on ideas originally promulgated by Frederick Law Olmsted, State Engineer William H. Hall, in 1882, recommended that a definite road system be developed on the Valley floor, that all forms of transportation be confined to these roads so as to prevent the tramping out of small plant life, that the accumulated debris be cleared from the streams, and that "as few of the necessary evils of civilization as possible" be introduced into the Yosemite Valley. Realizing that much of the beauty of the Valley depended on its water supply, Hall recommended that steps be immediately taken to protect and preserve the watershed, which was even then being threatened by the activities of sheepmen, miners, and lumbermen operating to the east and southeast of the Valley. [12]

The Commissioners chose to ignore that part of Hall's report that called for the preservation of the Valley in its natural state. Instead they called attention to a part of the report that seemed to recommend enlargement of the grant to include the mountain divide surrounding the Valley. Opposition to any extension of the boundaries of the original grant, and consequent expansion of the Commissioners' authority, was immediately raised by a variety of groups and individuals. Cattlemen and sheepmen wanted continued use of the Valley's watershed for summer grazing purposes. Others claimed that both the old and the new Board of Commissioners had been so inept in protecting the Valley from destruction and disfigurement that no extension of the grant should be made, however desirable it might be in other respects. Criticism of mismanagement by the Commissioners soon caught the attention of the public press, and conditions then existing in the Yosemite Valley became a matter of concern to residents throughout the state. [13]

Criticism of the Commissioners became so intense and bitter by 1888 that it brought on an official investigation. A legislative committee was directed to examine the situation in the Yosemite Valley and to report on the advisability of abolishing the entire commission system. While charging the Commissioners with misconduct and negligence, the members of the committee stated that they were not prepared to recommend abolishment of the commission system because the Act of Congress granting the area to California had definitely prescribed that form of government, and to abolish it would only leave the Valley and the Mariposa Big Tree Grove without any ruling authority whatever. [14] The Board of Commissioners feebly maintained that it proposed "no defense, for none is necessary. The State's defense is in the bad character or despicable motive or rank antecedents of her accusers." [15]

Both the investigative report and the defense by the Commissioners were so complicated by personal, political, and commercial considerations that they obscured the facts of the situation. The entire process was summed up by George Davidson, of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, who stated, "I found great discordance of views in the valley, and it was evident that strong personal feelings clouded unprofessional opinions." [16] When Governor A. W. Waterman refused to censure the Commissioners, both he and they were charged with conspiring to support the interests of transportation companies doing business in the Valley. [17] Charges and countercharges were made and refuted; editors of California newspapers chose sides, some opposing the Board of Commissioners, some supporting them. The dispute rose to such a pitch that it soon became a national concern, extending far beyond the boundaries of California.

In the midst of this public outcry there came together two men, one from the East, one from the West, both of whom were to have great impact upon the future of the Valley. John Muir was born April 21, 1838, in Dunbar, Scotland, and arrived in Yosemite for the first time in 1868. From that time until his death in 1914 he was the foremost nature explorer, writer, researcher, interpreter, and advocate of conservation in the United States. Muir, more than any other one person, was responsible for the establishment and preservation of the Yosemite National Park. Aided by other naturalists and conservationists, Muir organized the Sierra Club and was president of that organization from its inception in 1892 until his death on December 24, 1914.

During the early summer of 1889 Muir, accompanied by Robert Underwood Johnson, associate editor of The Century magazine, took a camping trip in the Sierras surrounding the Yosemite Valley. Here, amid the mountains he knew and loved, Muir pointed out to his companion "the barren soil fairly stippled by the feet of the countless herds of sheep" and "hoofed locusts" which had denuded the mountain meadows and destroyed all signs of grass and flowers. When the two men descended into the Yosemite Valley they found "portions of the beautiful wild undergrowth of the Valley . . . turned into hayfields . . . large piles of tin cans and other refuse in full view," a ramshackle hotel, saloon and pig-sty, and acres of tree stumps, where, but a few years before had grown a luxuriant forest. Much to their dismay, Muir and Johnson learned of plans then under way to throw colored lights upon the falls, and to "cut out the whole of the underbrush of the valley so that one could see . . . the approach of the stage." [18]

After viewing the devastation in and around the Valley, Johnson and Muir started a two-man campaign to work for a Yosemite National Park. Muir agreed to write articles for The Century and fired the first salvos in an article for the San Francisco Bulletin, where he "exposed the abuses and havoc wrought under state control" in the Valley. [19] Johnson contributed editorials and solicited letters from interested persons which were published in The Century. One observer offered the thinly veiled threat that if the present system of management were continued, "the complaints which are now whispered will be spoken with such force and volume as to ring in the ears of the public and literally compel the National Government to retake what it has placed as trust in the hand of the State of California." [20] Another suggested the employment of a "man eminent in the profession of landscape gardening and artistic forestry," and the payment of commission members. These reforms would at least bring forth remedies "where the evil is not past remedy." [21] The Guardian of the Valley was reported to have said:

There is no plan for the improvement or care of the valley; each guardian has his own idea, each board of commission has some idea, ill defined, that something ought to be done, and often individual members of the commission have their own ideas in regard . . . to trimming, cutting, etc. New Commissioners appoint new guardians, and each guardian follows in the footsteps of his predecessor by doing as his own judgment dictates. [22]

Johnson maintained in an editorial of January, 1890, that what was needed, after the development of a definite plan for preservation of the Valley and its environs, was a "fitness of qualification and permanence of tenure in its administrators." He asserted that "a large sentiment in California would support a bill for the recession to the United States with an assurance of as capable administration in government as now characterizes the Yellowstone Park." [23] Muir admit ted that he would "rather see the Valley in the hands of the Federal Government, but thought that the State of California might be reluctant to allow the transfer, adding, "A man may not appreciate his wife, but let her daddie try to take her back." [24]

The proposed extension of the Yosemite grant was supported by the editors of The Nation, who suggested that the entire grant be taken over by the Interior Department, since, in their opinion, California had "forfeited its title" by regarding the preservation as an "endowment, not a trust." [25]

The complaints aired during the winter and spring of 1890 were only a prelude to the denunciation launched by John Muir the following summer. In an article published by The Century in August, Muir described the natural wonders of the Valley and surrounding areas, and then with infinite detail described the destruction then being wrought by lumbermen who cut, blasted, and sawed the giant sequoias, and then set fire to the woods to clear the ground of limbs and refuse, thus destroying seedlings, saplings, and many "unmanageable giants." Left in the wake of these rapacious men were "black, charred monuments"—mute testimony to man's greed and folly. The ravages of lumbermen, however, were small when compared with the comprehensive destruction caused by sheepmen and their all-devouring "hoofed locusts," according to Muir. He charged that the beauties of the Valley were rapidly being destroyed under state administration, and he backed up his charges by photographs. Pictures of stumps standing two to four feet high, all that remained of once luxurious groves of young pine trees, and pictures of wildflower fields plowed up to plant hay, accompanied the article. [26]

The difficulties of re-ceding the Yosemite grant from the State of California to the Federal Government decided the proponents of preservation to turn their energies toward forming a National Park to surround the Yosemite Valley. In his second article for The Century in September, 1890, Muir warned that the formation of such a park could not come too quickly since the entire region was even then being "gnawed and trampled into a desert condition." When the area had been stripped of its forests, he said, "the ruin will be complete." In a spirit of urgency, the naturalist maintained that "ax and plow, hogs and horses, have long been and are still busy in Yosemite's gardens and groves. All that is accessible and destructible is being rapidly destroyed." There was no defense for such destruction, since most of it was of a kind that can claim no right relationship with that which necessarily follows use."[27]

The activities and statements of the members of the Board of Commissioners furnished additional ammunition for the park advocates. Since 1885, in their biennial reports, the Commissioners had recommended that all the available land on the floor of the Yosemite Valley be seeded in grass and cultivated for hay for the "augmentation of the revenues of the State." [28] In June, 1889, they announced a plan to uproot and destroy all undergrowth, brush, and trees that had grown "in the last forty years" in an attempt to reduce the chances of conflagration. Century editor Robert Underwood Johnson blasted the Commissioners for not heeding the advice given by Frederick Law Olmsted some years before and charged that the "natural pleasure grounds" had been "ignorantly hewed and hacked, sordidly plowed and fenced, and otherwise treated on principles of forestry which would disgrace a picnic ground." In reply to this, a member of the commission was quoted as having said that he "would rather have the advice of a Yosemite road-maker in the improvement of the valley than that of Mr. Frederick Law Olmsted." [29] Professor J. D. Whitney, formerly a chairman of the executive committee of the Yosemite commission, opposed any extension of the grant under California authority and stated, "If the Yosemite could be taken from the State and made a national reservation I should have some hope that some good might be accomplished."[30]

The controversy over the alleged mismanagement of the California grant reached such proportions that Congress adopted a resolution directing the Secretary of the Interior to inquire and report to the Senate, "whether the lands granted to the State of California . . . have been spoliated or otherwise diverted . . . from public use contemplated by the grant ..." [31] Although Congress acted to prevent destruction of that area surrounding the Yosemite Valley before receiving the requested report, the Secretary did gather information that substantiated the charges previously made.

Aided by correspondence, photographs, and the report of a special agent who made an investigation, the Secretary of the Interior reported to Congress on January 30, 1891 that:

(1) There has been a very general and indiscriminate destruction of timber . . . from mere wantonness. A former guardian of the park (Mr. Hutchings), writing in 1888, states that "within three years not less than 5,000 trees have been cut down."

(2) A large portion of the valley . . . has been fenced in and put to grass or grain. The fencing is largely done with barbed wire . . . and the inclosures . . . confine travel to narrow limits. . . . There seems to be very little room left for paths for pedestrians in the Valley.

(3) The valley has been pastured to such an extent as to destroy a great many rare plants which formerly grew there luxuriantly. Formerly there were over 400 species of plants . . . nearly all of these have been destroyed if not exterminated by herding and the plow. . . .

(4) The management seems to have fallen into the hands of a monopoly. . . .

Referring to that portion of the Yosemite grant lying outside of the Valley, the Secretary reported:

This seems to have been abandoned to sheep-herders and their flocks. The rare grasses and herbage have been eaten to the bare dirt. The magnificent flora . . . has been destroyed . . . These acts of spoliation and trespass have been permitted for a number of years and seem to have become a part of the settled policy of the management. . . . For the purpose of realizing the largest possible revenue obtainable from the valley there has, it is claimed, been permitted a largely indiscriminate devastation of the magnificent forest growth and luxuriant grasses that many years alone can repair. [32]

Certain residents of California had long been interested in the preservation of those groves of giant trees that had escaped destruction at the hand of the lumberman. As early as 1879 the editor of the Visalia, California, Weekly Delta had recommended that a particularly fine stand of trees, known as the Fresno-Tulare Grove, be made a national park. Though unsuccessful in this attempt, the editor and his friends did succeed in having the area containing the big trees suspended from entry. In 1881 the residents of Visalia convinced John F. Miller, candidate for the United States Senate, that some action should be taken to provide permanent protection for the trees, and in December, 1881, Miller, having been elected, introduced into the Senate a bill providing for the establishment of a national park encompassing the "whole west flank of the Sierra Nevada." The tremendous size of the proposed park called forth great opposition and the bill was not reported from committee. [33] The undaunted supporters of such a plan continued to fill the Weekly Delta with editorials and articles concerning forest fires, timber trespasses, the need for preserving the big trees and for conservation procedures, and mailed copies of these issues to the Secretary of the Interior. Amid rumors that the entry suspension was to be lifted, the local conservationists "thought of the Yellowstone National Park and read the act creating it and decided that only a national park would insure permanent preservation" of the big tree groves. [34] The matter was taken up with the Congressional Representative from their district, William Vandever, and on July 28, 1890, he introduced a bill into Congress providing for the dedication and setting apart "as a public park, or pleasure ground, for the benefit and enjoyment of the people," a tract of land containing the Fresno-Tulare Grove in California. The bill was favorably reported by the House Committee on Public Lands, amended to enlarge the area so set aside, and passed the House without debate on August 23. [35] Similar action on the bill was taken by the Senate, which passed the Vandever bill by unanimous consent, again without debate, on September 8, 1890. The Sequoia National Park became a fact when the Act of Congress was signed by President Benjamin Harrison, September 25, 1890. [36]

Earlier, on March 18, 1890, Congressman Vandever had introduced another bill designed to establish a forest reservation in the area surrounding the Yosemite grant to California. It was hoped that this might stem the destruction in the Valley. The bill was referred to the Committee on Public Buildings and Grounds as H. R. 8350 and not reported out of that committee. On September 30, 1890, five days after the Sequoia bill had been signed into law, Congressman Lewis E. Payson of Illinois, the same "Judge Payson" who, in 1885, had run afoul of the "kangaroo courts" established in the Yellowstone National Park, introduced a substitute bill for H. R. 8350, designed to "establish the Yosemite National Park." Payson's bill, besides incorporating everything in the original Vandever bill, provided for the setting aside of that area soon to be known as the General Grant National Park, though this name was not stipulated in the bill. [37] Congressman Charles E. Hooker of Mississippi stated that the bill "is going to excite controversy, debate, and discussion that can not fail to take time." The bill did create controversy, debate, and discussion, but not in either house of Congress. The bill passed the House without debate. [38]

Payson's substitute House bill (H. R. 12187) was introduced into the Senate by Senator Preston B. Plumb of Kansas, on the same day it passed the House. The bill passed the Senate without debate or discussion. The bill establishing Yosemite and General Grant National Parks was signed by the President on October 1, 1890. [39]

The ease and facility with which the Yosemite bill was rushed through Congress attests to the fine groundwork established by its advocates. Realizing that considerable opposition would be raised by some Californians if the bill proposed to take back the Yosemite Valley, which Congress had granted to the State in 1864, they inserted the clause that nothing in the proposed act "shall be construed as in anywise affecting the grant of lands made to the State of California." Settlers on the land set aside by the Act were disarmed by the addition of the statement that nothing in the act "shall be construed as in anywise . . . affecting any bona fide entry." John Muir had advised the proponent of the bill, Robert Underwood Johnson, that "taking back the Valley on the part of the Government would probably be a troublesome job," since California was at that time "about evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats," and "both parties in Congress would be afraid to defend her." Muir also advised his friend to "stand up for the Vandever Bill and on no account let the extension be under state control if it can possibly be avoided." [40]

In establishing these three national parks in California, Congress had again failed to provide any laws or legal machinery for enforcement of rules and regulations promulgated by the Secretary of the Interior, just as it had done some eighteen years before in establishing the Yellowstone Park. All three national park acts (the original Yellowstone Act, the Sequoia Act, and the Yosemite and General Grant Act) provided that the Parks should be under the exclusive control of the Secretary of the Interior, who was directed to make rules and regulations for their care and management. Such regulations were to "provide for the preservation from injury of all timber, mineral deposits, natural curiosities, or wonders, . . . and their retention in their natural condition." The Secretary was authorized to grant leases within the parks and was to "provide against the wanton destruction of the fish and game" found therein. In all three Acts, the only penalty for trespassing or otherwise violating the rules established by the Secretary was removal of the trespasser or violator from the Parks. [41] This omission by Congress was to frustrate the administrators of the California parks just as it had the administrators of the Yellowstone.

In neither of the Acts establishing the California parks is the term "national park" used. Sequoia was called "a public park, or pleasure ground," and both Yosemite and General Grant were set apart as "reserved forest lands." That they were considered by Congress to be national parks is evident by the language of the two bills, identical to that of the Yellowstone Act of 1872. [42] The Sequoia National Park was so named by Secretary of the Interior Noble immediately after its creation. The reason for choosing the name was "more weighty than that it is the name of the trees," he reported, for the trees themselves had been "called Sequoia by Endlicher in honor of a most distinguished Indian of the half breed, the inventor of the Cherokee alphabet"; thus "appropriate honor" was bestowed upon the "Cadmus of America," Sequoyah. Yosemite National Park was so named, according to the Secretary, because "this reservation surrounds the Yosemite Valley." The name "General Grant National Park" was chosen because "this name had become, by common consent, that of the largest tree there . . . and the park could not consistently be called aught else, unless it were 'The Union'." [43]

By following too closely the wording of the Yellowstone enabling Act, Congress failed also to provide any appropriation for upkeep and management of the Parks. A month later the Secretary of the Interior noted this omission and remarked that "whether the parks shall be put under charge of civil custodians or a military cavalry guard shall be sent to each is a subject now being considered and investigated." [44] The Act of March 3, 1883, authorizing the Secretary of War to make troops available for the protection of the Yellowstone National Park was not applicable to the parks later established by Congress, and hence there existed no legal basis for the use of troops in the Yosemite, Sequoia, and General Grant National Parks.

Nevertheless, aware that the new Parks demanded protection, the Secretary of the Interior also looked to the Yellowstone for precedent and, on October 21, 1890, requested that the Secretary of War detail two troops of cavalry for use in the California Parks, adding that possibly the labor requested would "not prove onerous to some of the very intelligent gentlemen who are in that section of the country. Finding some resistance from the Secretary of War, the Secretary of the Interior then appealed directly to the President, recommending that a troop of cavalry, with a commanding officer of the rank of Captain, be stationed in the Yosemite Park with instructions "not only to look after the treatment that the State of California may give to the park still within its control," but to also send our scouting parties throughout the park "to prevent timber cutting, sheep herding, trespassing, or spoliation in particular." A second request was approved by the Secretary of War on January 13, 1891, and on April 6, 1891, Troops "I" and "K," 4th Cavalry, stationed at the Presidio of San Francisco and commanded by Captains A. E. Wood and John Dorst, were selected for duty in the Yosemite, Sequoia, and General Grant National Parks. [45]

From 1891 to 1912 it was customary to detail troops only during the summer months, relying on the heavy winter snows to protect the Parks during the winter. Two troops of cavalry were usually dispatched for duty in the three Parks, departing from the Presidio of San Francisco in early May and arriving in the Parks some two weeks later after an overland march of 250 miles. One troop remained in the Yosemite, and one was sent southward to patrol the Sequoia and General Grant Parks. The officer in charge of the southern detachment was named Acting Superintendent of the Sequoia National Park and administered the General Grant Park also; his brother officer to the north operated under the title Acting Superintendent of the Yosemite National Park. Each officer submitted to the Secretary of the Interior an annual report, and with the exception of the annual movement to and from the Parks, each operated as a separate detachment. No permanent military post was established in any of the California Parks; the Yosemite troops established a temporary summer headquarters on the extreme southern boundary of the Park near the town of Wawona, and from this point sent mounted patrols throughout the Park. The logical place for the establishment of a headquarters was in the Yosemite Valley, situated in the center of the National Park. It was not available for military use, however, since it remained outside the Park and under state jurisdiction. When the Valley was re-ceded to the Government in 1906, military headquarters were moved to this central position. The troops dispatched to Sequoia and General Grant Parks utilized a variety of points for a headquarters camp, often outside the boundaries of either Park and usually on private land, since "there was no place in the park, where so many men and horses could camp." [46]

The very nature of the area they were detailed to guard determined from the outset that the duties and problems of the cavalry in the California Parks would be somewhat different from those in the Yellowstone. Here there were no large number of big game animals to tempt poachers; there were no geysers or fragile geyser formations to be destroyed by the curious tourist. There were forests, however, and there could be game if only it were protected. The boundaries of the Parks were not marked; roads and trails into and through the Parks were practically nonexistent; cattlemen and sheep-herders grazed their stock on Park lands in violation of the Acts establishing the Parks, and, unlike the Yellowstone, there were countless acres of patented lands lying within the areas set aside by Congress. Eventually the boundaries were marked, trails blazed, and roads constructed, but the evils of stock grazing and the existence of privately owned lands within the Parks proved to be a continual obstacle to efficient administration.

In an attempt to begin what he termed a "square deal" with the cattle and sheep owners who utilized the Park lands for grazing purposes, Captain A. E. Wood, the first Acting Superintendent of Yosemite, sent letters to every stockholder "in middle and southern California" advising them to keep their stock away from the Park boundaries. He firmly declared:

This Yosemite Park is to be a Park throughout all time—it is not a temporary arrangement. The time will be when the United States will be possessed of the title to all the lands within its boundaries and in the meantime it would be better if the citizens living near the Park would make arrangements to conform to the new conditions of things, thus avoiding the consequence of a violation of the law. [47]

Wood found that most of the cattle owners "generally tried to observe the law" and thereby presented only minor difficulties. The sheepherders, however, most of whom were "foreigners—Portuguese . . . Chilians, French, and Mexicans," ignored his warnings and proceeded to push their destructive flocks over the ill-defined boundaries. Of course, there was no legal penalty beyond ejection from the Park, but realizing that the sheepmen were not aware of this, the enterprising Captain attempted a bluff that would make him "master of the situation." Trespassing herders were arrested, escorted to the military camp near Wawona, and informed that they would have to stand trial in San Francisco. Unfortunately, the United States District Attorney for the northern district of California had published in the San Francisco newspapers "a long opinion on the subject of trespass, in which . . . he declared that no criminal action could lie under the law," and the Captain's bluff failed. [48]

The following year Captain Wood approached the problem of sheep trespass from a more effective direction. Following the Yellowstone precedent, he inaugurated the practice of arresting sheepherders, marching them to the boundary of the Park furthest from their herds, "a march consuming four or five days," ejecting them, and scattering their herds outside the opposite boundary. By the time that the herders and herds were reunited, the herds had usually been decreased considerably through the activities of forest predators. This was perhaps an extralegal process, but it was effectively used by subsequent military commanders; it proved to be a more severe punishment than could have been expected from a court of law. [49]

Such punitive expulsions made the sheepmen and herders aware that the Parks were being patrolled and that the regulations were more than mere words issued from far-off Washington. Although they were described as men of "the lowest order of intelligence," the herders soon devised methods to frustrate the cavalrymen. In the Sequoia Park, herders would drive their sheep into the Park with one or two men to watch them, while they left their riding and pack animals with all of their supplies just outside the Park boundary. To drive the sheep to the other side of the Park for expulsion would be "playing into the herders' hands, for the sheep would eat everything on the way" and the direction of travel would be the one desired by the herders, who would have stationed other men on the opposite side of the Park to gather the sheep as they were expelled. Also the herders soon combined forces and hired scouts who were stationed on commanding points to watch the movements of the military patrols. When the troops approached the area where the sheep were grazing, a warning was given and the herds immediately moved just outside the Park boundaries. [50] Faced with such frustrating maneuvers, the military guardians at times resorted to arbitrary force. In 1905 the French Charge d'Affaires forwarded to the Secretary of State a complaint lodged at the French Consulate at San Francisco by a Mr. F. Nicolas, "a French national citizen, engaged in the sheep trade, against Second Lt. W. S. Martin, 4th Cavalry." Nicolas claimed that he had entered the Yosemite Park, with no sheep, was met by 2nd Lt. Martin, "who . . . ordered him with his revolver pointed at him, to lead the way to the place where his flock was grazing . . . The officer struck him on the head with the butt of his revolver, kicked him in the abdomen and driving him before him compelled him to walk a distance of about four miles to the place where his horse was. . . . Thence . . . to Camp Wood some 50 miles distant . . . My fellow countryman was held two days by the Lieutenant." [51] Unfortunately, Lieutenant Martin suffered no reprimand for his capricious action.

The seasonal nature of the military occupation allowed the sheepmen to await the departure of the troops in the autumn and then move their flocks into the unprotected Park areas, taking advantage of the grasses that had been protected during the summer. When they returned in the spring, the military commanders could do nothing but survey the damage and send forth repeated pleas for legal machinery that would allow "just one trial and conviction," believing that such a process "would have more effect on these law breakers than all the proclamations which could be issued in a lifetime." [52] Also the practice of rotating the detachments assigned to the Parks made for fluctuating and inconsistent policies toward trespassers; some commanders were strict, others merely attempted to expel trespassers with the least inconvenience to both the troopers and the herders. The newly assigned officers, unfamiliar with the habits of the sheepmen and knowing little of the Park terrain, were often outwitted; the underpaid troopers were sometimes bribed to close their eyes to the obvious trespassing of sheep and herders. [53]

The imperfect protection afforded by the military was far better than none, however, and the naturalist John Muir, returning from a trip through the Yosemite Park, happily reported: "For three years the soldiers have kept the sheep-men and sheep out of the park, and the grasses and blue gentians . . . are again blooming in all their wild glory." Several years later he maintained that "The best service in forest protection—almost the only efficient service—is that rendered by the military." Referring to the military guardians of both the Yellowstone and Yosemite, he wrote, "They found it a desert as far as underbrush, grass and flowers were concerned," but with effective policing, "the skin of the mountains is healthy again." [54] Robert Underwood Johnson thought that the "increased and steady flow of the waterfalls in the Valley" was due to the military protection of the watershed, and quoted a Forestry Bureau ranger who told him that "one could follow the boundary of the park by the line to which the sheep had nibbled." Another observer of the transformation in Yosemite Park thought that the very process of passing from the trampled meadows outside the Park into the "protected meadows of the National Park was a lesson in patriotism," and strongly advocated the extension of military administration over "all the national domain." [55]

In an attempt to achieve some consistency as regards the trespassing herders, a standing order was issued by the Acting Superintendent of Yosemite in 1904, and, while never incorporated into the rules and regulations of the three Parks, it was faithfully followed by his successors:

When sheep are caught trespassing on the reservation, and are accompanied by herders, the sheep will be expelled in one direction, the herders in another, and their outfits in another. . . . Ordinarily the sheep will be driven out of the park on its east side, the herders and outfits if practicable, on the northern and southern side. [56]

By closely adhering to this practice, the threat of spoliation by herds of sheep was lessened, and, while subsequent Acting Superintendents still requested the passage of laws providing punishment for trespassers, they also reported that sheep trespass had practically ended.

Attempts of cattlemen to use the protected park areas for grazing produced the same problems, but the cattlemen, treated with expulsion like the sheepmen, soon learned to respect the boundaries of the parks. No real problem arose from the prospector and miner simply because no large deposits of minerals were discovered. Two men were ejected from the Yosemite Park after they were discovered placer-mining, but, according to the Acting Superintendent, "they seemed glad of a good excuse to quit" since their average findings were but "40 cents per day each." [57]

While the military superintendents gradually overcame the nuisance and evil of stock trespass, a greater hindrance to efficient administration and protection of the California Parks persisted—that of patented lands existing within the Park boundaries. The privately owned lands scattered throughout the government Parks in small, detached holdings formed a variety of independent units in what should have been a homogeneous whole, and frustrated the efforts of the military units to preserve and conserve the Parks. Each successive military commander noted the existence of these lands, and each in turn requested that these private holdings be eliminated. Some suggested outright purchase by the government of private lands, others that the boundaries of the Parks be realigned so as to exclude those portions most heavily claimed by individuals. The first military superintendent of the Yosemite Park recommended that the Park be reduced to its "natural boundaries," stating that such a reduction would exclude most of the agricultural and assumed mining land from the Park, while still including "the only portion of the country that furnishes a reason for a national park." [58] Subsequent commanders opposed the reduction of the Park area by any method and advocated the purchase of private lands, maintaining that it was but "good policy to preserve the timber in those forests and keep the forests themselves in a state as near that of nature as possible, for the benefit of those who come after us." One Acting Superintendent, urging the Government to acquire all private lands within the Parks, cited a statement of John Muir's, made in relation to settlers:

The smallest reserve, and the first ever heard of, was in the Garden of Eden, and though its boundaries were drawn by the Lord, and embraced only one tree, yet the rules were violated by the only two settlers that were permitted on suffrage to live in it. [59]

A 1903 survey of patented lands within the Park resulted in a list of over 370 separate entries, the majority having been patented in 1889 and 1890, and most of them comprising tracts of 160 acres each. Private landholdings existed within the boundaries of the Sequoia National Park also. A bitter battle between a "Bellamy type communal cooperative," the Kaweah Cooperative Commonwealth Colony, organized in 1886, and the Secretary of the Interior occurred in 1890 when the Sequoia Park was established. The Kaweah colonists had filed upon government land, constructed homes, a sawmill, and a road into their settlement, all within that area dedicated as a public park. It was finally determined that the land entries were fraudulent and the Kaweah Cooperative was dissolved, but not until after the fight had been carried to the floor of Congress and an exhaustive study of the land laws, filing procedures, and legal processes had been made. [60]

While these conflicting suggestions were annually being forwarded to Washington, 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 mountain fastness for the public and posterity and those who wished to use the land for personally remunerative purposes. The question of boundary realignment or purchase of patented lands might have continued indefinitely had not the actions of the Yosemite Lumber Company emphasized the necessity of taking some action. This company had, through purchase from private individuals, acquired extensive holdings in the southern and western parts of Yosemite Park and in 1903 it began logging operations. The resulting barren strips cut through the forested land prompted the Secretary of the Interior to take action. A commission was appointed to examine the condition of the Park and to ascertain whether portions of it could be eliminated. Meeting in June, 1904, this commission recommended that in view of the many scattered patented lands and the resultant obstacles to effective administration, it would be best to eliminate those areas with the greatest density of private landholdings. These included timberlands in the southwest and the west, and the mineral lands of the Chowchilla range. The crest of the Sierras was recommended as the natural boundary to the east—this eliminated a vast area on that side of the park. The committee further recommended that the area remaining after the boundary changes had been accomplished be officially known as the Yosemite National Park. All of these recommendations were incorporated in the Congressional Act of February 7, 1905. [61] This Act reduced, but did not eliminate, one of the major problems facing the military administrators.

As in the Yellowstone, the lack of laws complicated administration in the California Parks. The first Acting Superintendent requested that Congress pass a law "making it a misdemeanor for the violation of Rules . . . with the maximum fine fixed at $1,000, and the maximum imprisonment fixed at 6 months, or both, at the will of the court of competent jurisdiction." [62] Referring to similar requests by the Acting Superintendents of both the Yosemite and the Yellowstone Park, the first military commander in charge of Sequoia, after recommending the passage of laws providing penalties for all infractions of the regulations, hinted that if such laws were not forthcoming the military would be forced to resort to illegal methods. He maintained that if an Acting Superintendent "commences to quibble about the propriety of every action that seems necessary," and to debate with himself whether such action "is technically legal or illegal, he will accomplish nothing." [63]

After Congress provided a legal structure for the Yellowstone Park in 1894, pleas for similar legislation for the new Parks became more incessant. The military superintendents, finding that without penalties the rules were "virtually a dead letter," asked that their Parks be placed on the same footing as Yellowstone. [64] Some of the Acting Superintendents suggested that they be given the powers of United States Commissioners, others recommended that the Parks be made a separate United States Court District with a resident commissioner; all requested the passage of legislation defining what was prohibited and fixing a penalty for the violation of the same. The Secretary of the Interior included these requests in his annual reports to Congress, but Congress remained apathetic and there was no Howell case to attract publicity. Finally, after fifteen years, Congress made a feeble move in the direction desired by the military commanders. In 1905 an act was passed authorizing "all persons employed in the forest reserve and national park service of the United States" to make arrests for violation of the rules and regulations pertaining to the forest reserves and parks, and provided that persons so arrested be taken before the "nearest United States Commissioner . . . for trial." This was of no effect in practice, as the only penalty for violation of the rules was expulsion; the nearest United States Commissioner was some 100 miles distant from the Parks, and the very process of taking a violator before a Commissioner would have achieved the expulsion prescribed by law; the Commissioner would be unable to levy further penalty or punishment. Legal machinery and laws fixing penalties for violation of the park regulations were still needed in the California Parks. [65]

Out of sheer desperation the Acting Superintendents snatched at anything that might provide them with legal sanction and legal penalties. Beginning in 1910 they appended to the published rules and regulations of the three Parks an excerpt from an act entitled "An Act to Provide for Determining the Heirs of Deceased Indians . . ." This Act provided a fine and imprisonment for any person cutting trees or leaving a fire burning upon land that had "been reserved . . . by the United States for any public use." The act had been designed to protect Indian reservations and allotments, but it provided threat of punishment in the Parks, and was the only piece of punitive legislation available during the entire military administration of the California Parks. [66]

The absence of legal penalties in the California Parks would have presented an even greater administrative problem had there existed the all-pervading evil of poaching that encumbered the Yellowstone administration. Poaching was not a major problem in the Yosemite and Sequoia Parks, because of the absence of any large number of game animals. Acting Superintendent A. E. Wood reported in 1891 that the principal game to be found in the Yosemite consisted of bear, deer, grouse, and quail, but added that "neither [sic] variety is very plentiful." He thought that the prevention of sheep grazing would enable the game to increase, and the Acting Superintendent of Sequoia recommended the extension of that Park's boundaries to achieve the same purpose, adding, however, that the paucity of game was due to its being frightened by "the proximity of sheep herders and having had its feed destroyed by bands of domestic sheep." [67] The expulsion of the herds of sheep did not immediately bring an increase in the number of game animals, however. The Acting Superintendent in Sequoia reported in 1894 that "the game, particularly the deer, are decreasing in numbers," blaming this upon the still present "all-devouring and all-destroying sheep" which were "making the country unin habitable for man or beast." [68]

After the sheep problem was abated, the military commanders faced the problem of the all-devouring and all-destroying human being. The few game animals in the Parks were somewhat protected during the summer months when the military patrols were present, but after their departure in the fall, market hunters and trappers entered the park areas and plied their destructive trade with impunity. Unable to prevent the killing of game in the winter, the military commanders devised methods to better protect that game during the summer. In 1895 they began to confiscate all firearms of persons entering the parks and return them when they left. The salutary effect was soon noted and subsequent administrators reported that game was increasing in number and that the animals exhibited less fear of humans than in previous years. When charges were made that the soldiers assigned to protect the Parks were actually killing game themselves, the troops were stripped of their carbines and henceforth armed with revolvers only. [69] Many tourists going through the Parks requested permission to carry rifles and shotguns for "protection," but such requests were usually denied by the military commanders. It was customary, however, to allow men to carry revolvers "when they were accompanied by women, but in no other cases. . . ." [70]

Finding the streams and lakes of the Parks as lacking in fish as the forests had been of game, the military superintendents immediately took steps to rectify the situation. Receiving no reply from the United States Fish Commission to a request for young trout to stock the barren park waters, the Acting Superintendents turned to sportsmen's clubs and the State of California for assistance. During the second year of military administration some 55,000 trout were planted in the streams of the Yosemite and Sequoia Parks, and with yearly additions, the streams were soon "teeming with fish." One military commander was able to state that "the parks are becoming probably the finest fishing grounds in the world." [71]

Separated into detachments in the manner originally adopted in the Yellowstone Park, the troops in the California parks expelled trespassers, extinguished fires, constructed trails, and, to the extent that their seasonal patrolling allowed, protected the game. While no permanent military posts were constructed, this idea was suggested several times, as was the stationing of troops in the Parks for the entire year rather than just the summer months. The activities of the military guardians were lauded by conservation-minded Californians and it was assumed that the annual dispatching of troops to the Parks was to be a permanent process.

The illegal aspects of the use of the United States Army in the Parks were not considered until 1896. In that year the Secretary of the Interior's now routine request for the military detail was questioned by the Secretary of War, who doubted his authority, "without some sanction of law such as exists in the case of the Yellowstone National Park," to assign military officers and men to what was actually "civil duty." He requested that the Secretary of the Interior furnish him with information which would afford him the authority for which he had not at that time "been able to find satisfactory warrant." In reply, the Secretary of the Interior stated that while there existed "no law specifically authorizing" the Secretary of War to assign Army units to the Parks, they had to be protected and his Department was without the means to provide that protection. He thought, moreover, that the precedent of five years was sufficient "authority" for such procedure. The Secretary of War evidently accepted this reasoning and troops were accordingly assigned to all three of the California Parks in the spring of 1896 and again in 1897. [72]

During the United States "splendid little war" with Spain in 1898, the annual assignment of troops to the California Parks was suspended for the duration, leaving the Parks unprotected, save for the nominal supervision and protection offered by a civilian, J. W. Zevely, a special inspector for the Department of the Interior who was named Acting Superintendent in the absence of the military. Zevely was relieved of his duties in September by a detachment of the First Utah Volunteer Cavalry under the command of Captain Joseph E. Caine, and the Volunteers remained in the Parks until October. Upon his arrival in the Yosemite Park, Captain Caine found numerous forests fires raging, an estimated 200,000 sheep roaming "at will over the national reserve," and hunters frequenting the parks "with impunity." [73] Local residents of California were aware of the depredations being committed in the Parks, and the Deputy Sheriff of Merced County suggested that he be authorized to station his company of volunteers (which had been raised for "home defense") in the Parks to provide protection against spoliation. The Secretary of War respectfully declined this proffered assistance. [74] This brief experience reinforced the idea that the Parks could best be protected by the military, and in 1899 troops were once more dispatched from Presidio of San Francisco for guard duty in the Parks. Opposition, however, to this now customary but extralegal process of using military units for civil duty was beginning to develop.

One of the main arguments for military guardianship of the nation's parks was that the use of the military required little or no additional appropriation of money over what was normally required to sustain the troops. In an attempt to disprove this allegation, Congressman J. C. Needham of California requested from the Secretary of War figures showing the exact cost to the Government of sending troops to the California Parks in excess of the cost of maintaining the troops in garrison. A reply from the Adjutant General's Office estimated the average additional cost per year at $7,557.22, a figure much less than that required to substitute an equal civilian protection force. Representative Needham was silenced, but the propriety of continued military management had been questioned. [75] A complete review of the situation was requested by the Secretary of War, and the resulting memorandum included the statement:

The law does not provide in any way for the employment or use of troops in the Sequoia, Yosemite and General Grant parks or reservations, but these parks are placed by law under the exclusive control of the Secretary of the Interior. The officers in command of the troops report to and receive their instructions from the Secretary of the Interior. [76]

Because the use of troops in the Parks seemed illegal, the Secretary of War in 1900 showed some reluctance to comply with the annual request to send troops to the Parks. There was, he said a "constant demand for troops for purposes of a military character," and the employment of troops to guard the Parks could scarcely be regarded as military. He suggested that it might be practicable for the Department of the Interior to furnish its own force. Ignoring this suggestion, the Secretary of the Interior again requested the troops "as a matter of favor" and said he would recommend to Congress legislative sanction for this practice, as in Yellowstone. Congress accordingly included in the sundry civil act approved June 6, 1900, the clause:

The Secretary of War, upon request of the Secretary of the Interior, is hereafter authorized and directed to make the necessary detail of troops to prevent trespassers or intruders from entering the Sequoia National Park, the Yosemite National Park and the General Grant National Park, respectively, in California, for the purpose of destroying the game or objects of curiosity therein, or for any other purpose prohibited by law or regulation for the government of said reservations, and to remove such persons from said parks if found therein. [77]

Thus the presence of troops in the California Parks was, after a delay of nine years, finally legalized. In 1906, after a long and bitter struggle between the California Board of Commissioners for the Yosemite Valley and the conservation interests, California re-ceded to the United States the two grants made in 1864, and the Yosemite National Park was made an integral whole. [78] Military headquarters were moved to a central position in the Yosemite Valley, and the military protection previously confined to the area surrounding the Valley was extended to the Valley itself.

The United States Army continued to detail troops to the Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks until 1914, when they were withdrawn and replaced by a force of civilian rangers. The withdrawal of the troops was finally accomplished at the insistence of the military commanders assigned to the Park duty, who maintained that conditions in and around the Parks had been materially altered since the troops were first called upon for protection. [79] In the earlier days the Parks had been surrounded by a hostile population, accustomed to free use of the land for grazing, hunting, and woodcutting, which resented the curtailment of these privileges and tried in every way to circumvent the authorities. With no war threatening, the Army was regarded more as a public utility than as a combatant force; this had made it seem reasonable to use troops to prevent depredations on the public domain. Toward the end of the military administration of the three Parks in California, the Acting Superintendents found that there were few attempts to graze sheep or cattle in the Parks, and even though the game had increased, there was comparatively little poaching. Instead of arduous patrolling over rough and broken country, the soldiers' duties consisted of supervising construction of roads and trails, gate-keeping, and advising visitors. Outposts were still maintained throughout the Parks, but their only purpose was to report the varieties of game seen, look for fires, seal firearms, and register tourists. The surrounding population had gradually changed its attitude from antagonism to friendly helpfulness, and those who had previously attempted to destroy the Parks had become actively interested in their preservation. The presence of cavalry in the Parks was a survival of earlier days and different conditions.

The major activities of the troops assigned to the Parks were, strictly speaking, without legal sanction. The law providing for the assignment of troops prescribed their duties as preventing "trespassers or intruders from entering" the Parks and the removal of such trespassers. All other duties performed by the troops were technically illegal. Also illegal were orders from the Secretary of the Interior to the Acting Superintendents directing them to utilize their troops in checking automobiles, collecting tolls, guiding tourists, patrolling for and fighting forest fires, registering tourists, searching for lost parties, driving sheep and cattle across the park as a punitive measure, reading stream gauges for the Department of Agriculture, providing pack trains for transporting Interior Department supplies, and planting fish. These duties were illegal, but they were not necessarily onerous. Writing in 1913, the last military commander assigned to the Sequoia National Park, 1st Lieutenant Hugh S. Johnson (later head of the New Deal N.R.A.) noted that the annual detail of troops to the Parks "furnishes a very pleasant and desirable detail to any troop of cavalry and one upon which all its members are eager to enter. For the officers it provides an independent command, a change from the routine army duties, a pleasant summer's outing with fishing and the coolness and enjoyment of a mountain summer. For the men, there is, in addition to most of these things, a surcease from army discipline, drill, and restraint." [80] Nevertheless, the military, acting without benefit of well-defined legal stipulations, and hampered by the absence of punitive legislation, did save the Yosemite, Sequoia, and General Grant National Parks in the same manner that they had saved the Yellowstone National Park. Without the protective presence of the United States Cavalry, much of what exists today as a part of the National Park system could well have become, like other nonprotected areas, scarred, disfigured, and destroyed. Park visitors, who today view the glaciated splendor of Yosemite, or find a bit of solitude among the giant trees of Sequoia, owe these forgotten men a debt of gratitude.


How the U.S. Cavalry Saved Our National Parks
©1971, Indiana University Press All rights reserved.
This text may not be reproduced in any manner without the express written consent of Indiana University Press.
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