California State Parks - 150th Anniversary

150th Anniversary Logo
There is nothing so American as our parks, or as Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said "the fundamental idea behind parks is that the country belongs to the people".

In 2014, California State Parks will commemorate our 150th Anniversary.   On June 30, 1864, in the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant Act, protecting Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove and ceding them to the State of California as the nation's first State Park. This landmark act, the first instance of park land being set aside specifically for preservation and public use by action of the federal government, created a legacy for California and our nation.

This is a unique opportunity to share the Department's historic milestones, diversity and role they play in California's history and identity.  The theme of the Anniversary is "A Gift from the People to the People".

Parks across the State will commemorate the 150th Anniversary throughout 2014.  Keep coming back to our website for more information, and follow us on our social media:  Facebook and Twitter.

Significant Dates

  • June 30, 1864 - President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill granting Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees to the State of California 'upon the express condition that the premises shall be held for public use, resort, and recreation, and shall be inalienable for all time.'

  • September 28, 1864 - California Governor Frederick Low issued an interim proclamation of the State's approval of the Federal grant of Yosemite and the Mariposa Grove and appointed a commission to manage the area.

  • 1865 - Yosemite Commissioner Frederick Law Olmsted produced a report on Management of Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Big Tree Grove.

  • April 2, 1866 - The California Legislature passed and the Governor signed legislation to formally accept the Grant of Yosemite and the Mariposa Grove. The legislation also established the “Commissioners to Manage the Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Big Tree Grove', the first laws to protect this park area and the authority to hire a guardian (Ranger) to management the new park.

  • May 21, 1866 - At the first meeting of the California State 'Commissioners to Manage the Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Big Tree Grove', Galen Clark (one of the Commissioners) was appointed Guardian of Yosemite at $500 per year. Not recognized until much later, Clark had become California's and the nation's first Park Ranger.

  • 1890 - The Marshall Monument was established as the first historical state park and in 1891 Ezra Smith was appointed guardian (Ranger) of the monument.

  • 1902 - The California Redwood Park at Big Basin was established and in 1903 the first park warden J.H.B. Pilkington was appointed.

  • 1928 - Seventeen (17) parks and 15 full-time employees incorporated into the newly established Division of Parks.

  • Today - Since establishing of these first parks, California State Parks has grown to be the largest state park system in the United States with 280 park units and almost 70 million visitors annually.