Bill would honor Buffalo Soldiers’ role in parks

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — In the decades after the Civil War, the nation’s first black Army regiments guarded Yosemite and Sequoia national parks against poaching and timber thefts, a role that in hindsight made them America’s first park rangers.

Now as the National Park Service prepares for its 100th anniversary in 2016, there is a move in Congress to formally recognize the role of these “Buffalo Soldiers.”

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Monday by Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Francisco, allowing the study of a national historic trail between their home base at The Presidio in San Francisco and the Sierra Nevada.

A similar bill is pending in the Senate.

Supporters hope recognizing the soldiers leads to awareness of the role African-Americans played in formation of the national parks.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.