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Movement Afloat to Make Pinnacles National Monument a National Park

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Pinnacles National Monument is about 5 hours away up the 101 Freeway | Photo by Dawn Endico via Flickr

Pinnacles National Monument is about 5 hours away up the 101 Freeway | Photo by Dawn Endico via Flickr
Off the 101 Freeway in Central California is one of the older National Park Service units. In 1908, Theodore Roosevelt named 2,500 acres of the Gabilan Mountains, made up of "rock spires and crags that are remnants of an ancient volcano," as the Park Service puts it. Today, Pinnacles National Monument is 26,000 acres and there's a campaign to designated it as a National Park.

“The rugged beauty and unique wildlife of Pinnacles National Monument attract tens of thousands of visitors each year, helping support California’s tourism industry," said Barbara Boxer, who announced she has introduced the renaming legislation. "Elevating Pinnacles to a National Park will draw even more visitors to this spectacular piece of California’s natural and cultural heritage.”

Last year Congressman Sam Farr introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives, which stirred debate.

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"The monument has truly extraordinary natural resources and has played a crucial role in the reintroduction of the California condor to its traditional range in California. However, under longstanding practice, the term 'national park' has generally been reserved for units that contain a variety of resources and encompasses large land or water areas to help provide adequate protection of the resources," said a Park Service administrator. "Pinnacles National Monument does not include the full range of resources usually found in national parks," said Steve Whitesell, the agency's associate director for park planning, facilities, and lands."

Boxer also wants to rename the Pinnacles Wilderness as the Hain Wilderness after Schuyler Hain, an early conservationist whose efforts led to the establishment of the Monument.