Thursday, January 14, 2010

An Early Example of Contracting for Conservation

Of all the interesting things I've already learned from reading Douglas Brinkley's book, The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America (Harper 2009), this takes the cake (so far):
On June 30, 1864 ... in what was widely considered the initial federal intervention on behalf of wildlife resources, Congress transferred the Yosemite Valley from the public domain to the state of California. Even though Sacramento would eventually return the Yosemite Valley to the U.S. government, in 1906, an important precedent was established, for in the transfer agreement California agreed to 'provide against the wanton destruction of fish and game found within said park, and against their capture or destruction for the purposes of merchandise or profit.'
Apparently, the federal government doubted its own capacity to protect Yosemite. Thus, it transferred the land to California under a contract that committed the state to protect it.

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