Sequoia-King Canyon National Parks, CA
National Park Trust and the National Park Service negotiated with the owners of the White Chief Mine over a period of several years to arrive at a price for the property. The owners wanted substantially more for the property than the National Park Service was able to pay; they were limited to the amount specified in a property appraisal done to federal standards. The threat of development of this isolated private property (completely surrounded by the national park) and accompanying negative impacts to the park persuaded National Park Trust to act. Its board of trustees voted to pay the difference, almost 2/3 of the property price, to meet the asking price and bring the property into permanent protection as part of Sequoia National Park. Before the purchase, the property was being marketed nationwide as ideal for development as a seasonal private residence. If sold privately, the owner was considering retaining the mineral rights. The property was billed as having a water source; a stream flowing from the park and through the property. Acquisition by the National Park Service eliminated the only private inholding in that part of the park.
White Chief had some of the highest altitude natural caves in the U.S., of great scientific interest. The mine area is now part of federally designated wilderness, and development would have marred the sights, sounds and integrity of the surrounding wilderness. A popular 2.9-mile hiking trail crossed the property, and development would have limited access to that area of the park.
Project Years: 1990-1998
Parcel Size: 21 acres
Project Cost: $60,000
Long Term Significance of the Acquisition:
- The acreage was returned to and can now be managed as federal wilderness.
- Potential impact on wilderness from the sights, sounds and physical impacts of development has been avoided by permanent protection as part of the national park.
Value to the Park and Public:
- Visitors can have a wilderness experience uninterrupted by development.
- Hikers have access to park backcountry without being blocked or impeded by private property across the trail.