The 26,000-acre Pinnacles, home to the endangered California condor and a popular spot for climbers from Hollister, was elevated to national park status by H.R. 3641, a bill authored by Congressman Sam Farr in July. Sen. Barbara Boxer worked with Farr on the U.S. Senate version of the bill that was passed during a rare Sunday session. The 59th national park is the first to be initiated into the system since 2004.
"I thank President Obama for signing this bill, which will help us attract even more visitors from around the world to one of California’s greatest treasures,” Senator Boxer said.
Established in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt, the central Californian Pinnacles National Monument is the eleventh oldest National Monument in the U.S.
The area—home to over 600 species of animals and insects—received its name from the volcanic spires that were formed by the eruption of the Neenach Volcano over 23 million years ago.
“The legislation moved quickly through Congress because of its broad, grassroots support due to the positive impact it would have on the surrounding communities,” said Farr spokesperson Adam Russell.
Russell pointed to the outpouring of supporting from chambers of commerce Monterey and San Benito Counties, who hoped the park would draw in more tourists from around the state and world.
“The Central Coast is ready to welcome visitors to this national treasure,” said Farr in a news release. “From exploring caves, to viewing springtime wildflowers, to hiking through spire-like rock formations, visitors and families can participate in activities that leave lasting memories. It is truly worthy of national park status.”
The area, Boxer's news release said, holds cultural significance for several of California's Native American tribes and it served as a backdrop for John Steinbeck's “Of Mice and Men” and “East of Eden.” The legislation also renames the current Pinnacles Wilderness as the Hain Wilderness after Schuyler Hain, an early conservationist whose efforts led to the establishment of the Monument.
Supporters of the legislation include the Wilderness Society, the California Wild Heritage Campaign and the California Wilderness Project.