Could Pinnacles National Monument become a National Park?

Pinnacle National Monument. Courtesy USGS.

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced legislation Aug. 5 that would add lands protections to some areas of Pinnacles National Monument while also upgrading the status of this scenic area to a National Park.

Pinnacles is a popular climbers’ destination, and its rugged rock spires and crags made recent news when the first California condor in a century was born there last spring.

Boxer’s legislation is a companion bill to legislation introduced last year by Congressman Sam Farr (D-Carmel). Rep. Farr has worked on preserving the central coast region throughout his career. (In fact, the number of additions of designated Wilderness areas to Sam Farr's district is the most of any in Congress.)

The Pinnacles legislation would add 3,000 acres of the monument to the National Wilderness Preservation System. This is newly acquired monument land that was recently purchased from willing sellers as the Monument has sought to expand.

Pinnacles is located east of California’s central coast, not far from the town of Soledad. Its 26,000 acres of rugged volcanic rock formations draw hikers, campers, wildlife fans, and cave explorers.

The local economy has been in decline in recent years, and many Pinnacles supporters believe that National Park status will increase tourism and visitation to the area. This idea has gained local supporters who are eager to see additional funds from appropriating committees in Congress. “This is a way to highlight this unique resource and showcase our own diamond in the rough,” said Supervisor Simon Salinas from Monterey County.

The Wilderness Society has been working with our partner groups in the region including the National Parks Conservation Association.

photo: Pinnacle National Monument. Courtesy USGS.