Conservation groups, officials praise Sen. Boxer for Pinnacles National Park bill

Aug 5, 2010

National Park status would boost tourism and local economy; bill also adds additional lands protections

SAN FRANCISCO (August 5, 2010) Conservation groups praised Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) today for introducing legislation that would create Pinnacles National Park. It is a companion bill to legislation introduced one year ago in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Sam Farr (D-Salinas).

Senator Boxer’s bill would upgrade Pinnacles from a National Monument while also adding nearly 3,000 acres of the monument to the National Wilderness Preservation System, the nation’s strongest form of public land protection.

With the introduction of today’s legislation, Senator Boxer said, “The rugged beauty and unique wildlife of Pinnacles National Monument attract tens of thousands of visitors each year, helping support California’s tourism industry. Elevating Pinnacles to a National Park will draw even more visitors to this spectacular piece of California’s natural and cultural heritage.”

The California Wild Heritage Campaign, a coalition of over 400 businesses and organizations across the state praised today’s introduction. “Senator Boxer’s action today shows her concern for the economy, public lands, and for the local citizens who have been working for National Park status for Pinnacles for many years,” said Sam Goldman, the campaign’s coordinator. “Senator Boxer continues to lead as a conservation champion in the US Senate.”

Congressman Farr, also praised Senator Boxer for introducing the companion bill. “Pinnacles deserves National Park status and I’m pleased that Senator Boxer supports that goal. Pinnacles is so much more than rock formations. It’s home to the endangered California condor, it’s packed with historical significance and its geological distinctiveness is second to none,” Farr said. “The National Park designation would also be a major boon to an economically starved area, a huge benefit for the state’s Central Coast. Pinnacles is a hidden gem just waiting to be discovered.”

Pinnacles National Monument was originally established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908. It preserves unique geologic features including the spectacular spires and crags that are its namesake “pinnacles,” remnants of an ancient volcano and numerous caves. It is also home to a rich array of native plant and animal communities and is the first national park unit to serve as a release site for the reintroduction of the critically endangered California condor.

In March 2010, for the first time in a century, a baby condor chick was born in Pinnacles. It was the monument’s first nest in 100 years – yet the area was once home to this magnificent species.

The 26,000-acre monument lies in an area of expanding population and development while providing outstanding recreational and educational benefits.

This legislation, if enacted, would also expand the monument’s existing 16,000 acres of Pinnacles Wilderness with an additional 2,905 acres. These new Wilderness areas would permanently protect portions of South Chalone Peak and Chalone Creek from roads, powerlines, permanent structures and other development.

The bill would rename the Pinnacles Wilderness the Hain Wilderness in honor of brothers, Arthur and Schuyler Hain, early homesteaders in the area. Their tireless efforts led to the initial 1908 designation of Pinnacles as a National Monument.