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1890 Yosemite Debate Cards


Your role is to read the Yosemite National Park Debate Background Information to the class and to introduce each group before its members present their views.


You will allow each group four minutes to present its argument in the debate.You will call "Time" if a group's presentation goes to four minutes.

Frederick Law Olmsted

You are a landscape architect and conservationist. You are active in California's environmental issues. You have designed Central Park in New York. You feel strongly about protecting the scenic beauty of Yosemite. You write Yosemite Valley and hte Mariposa Big Trees: A Preliminary Report, in 1845.

John Muir

Your goal is to protect the entire ecosystems of Yosemite and to include two complete river systems in the boundaries of Yosemite. You have rallied a great deal of support for your vision to preserve Yosemite and other natural places.

Israel Raymond Ward

You are the state representative of Central American Steamship Transit Company of New York. You helped write the letter for the Yosemite land grant of 1864 and believe in the protection of areas of scenic beauty. You not only believe in the preservation of Yosemite, but you insist "the wonders be inalienable forever."

Josiah Whitney

You are the state geologist for California and are a professor of geology from Harvard University. You have spent years exploring and surveying the state and preparing records for the federal government. You have labelled John Muir an "ignoramus" who disagrees with your geological theories about the formation of the Yosemite Valley.

Private Landholders

You own a small piece of land in Yosemite and believe in the right to private property. If Yosemite is declared a national park, you will have to move to a new place or pay to live where you do.


You graze sheep in the high Sierra meadows. You have been doing this for many years. If Yosemite is declared a national park, you will have to sell your sheep or find a new area for them to graze.


As a citizen, your tax dollars will pay for land with which you will not be directly involved. You don't believe you should have to pay to support public land.

Senator from California

You will not support land being protected as a park until the land has been proven economically useless, with no possibilities of grazing, agriculture, mining, or logging.

Railroad Company Owner

You think that protecting Yosemite as a national park will bring tourism into the area and this will bring money to your company.


Your job is to listen to all sides of the debate and then vote to decide whether Yosemite should be protected as a national park.

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