Farr seeks upgrade of Pinnacles to National Park
Representative Sam Farr has introduced legislation that would upgrade the status of Pinnacles National Monument to a National Park. The bill would also add 2,905 acres to Pinnacles wilderness. The new park would encompass more than 26,000 acres.
Well known to local hikers, Pinnacles was designated a National Monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908. This landscape of towering pinnacles, steep cliffs, huge monoliths, and talus caves is half of the ancient Neenach Volcano that has migrated up the San Andreas Fault from southern California over millions of years.
Since 2003, Pinnacles has served as a release site for the endangered California condor and has become an important part of the California Condor Recovery Program. These magnificent birds may be viewed from observation points near the monument entrance or spotted soaring over the High Peaks area.
Within the monument, an existing wilderness area now protects approximately 16,000 acres. The current legislation will permanently protect another 2,905 acres from the possibility of roads or other intrusions. Lower Chalone Creek, as well as the slopes of Chalone Peak, are included in the new wilderness proposal. Prior to wilderness designation in 1976, the Ventana Chapter was instrumental in stopping an extension of Highway 146 through Pinnacles which would have bisected the monument.
The bill would also rename the Pinnacles Wilderness as the Hain Wilderness in honor of brothers Arthur and Schuyler Hain who were early homesteaders in the area. Their tireless efforts led to the creation of the original 2,500 acre National Monument.