An Opportunity We Can’t Afford to Lose at Pinnacles

Pinnacles National Monument, now Pinnacles National Park.

Pinnacles National Monument, now Pinnacles National Park. Photo © Rita Robinson/Dreamstime.

Last week, President Obama officially signed legislation renaming Pinnacles National Monument to Pinnacles National Park, a name change that elevates its status and may help attract more visitors to the geologically rich 26,000-acre site about an hour and a half south of San Jose in California. The switch is a worthy first step toward recognizing the park’s economic importance, stunning rock formations, and critical habitat for California condors and other wildlife.

Before passing this name change, however, Congress removed an important measure from the legislation. The original bill would have designated 3,000 acres of the park as wilderness, a move that would permanently protect the area’s natural features. Furthermore, an adjacent landowner has urged Congress to allow his 18,200-acre, geologically significant property to be included in Pinnacles, but lawmakers have yet to act on this proposal.

Congress has not passed a single piece of wilderness legislation or added any lands to the park system in the last two years. NPCA believes our new Congress should pick up where this bill left off and expand Pinnacles and establish wilderness protections within its boundaries.

About the Author

Neal Desai is associate director for NPCA's Pacific Regional Office.