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Victory for CA Condors and Rock Climbers

Pinnacles National Monument
Pinnacles National Monument
July 12, 2012

A bill moving forward in the U.S. House of Representatives would give greater protections to California's Pinnacles National Monument by upgrading it to a national park. The area in central California is known for its volcanic formations, which attract rock climbers of all skill levels. It is also home to several California condors - one of the world's rarest birds.

Rep. Sam Farr (D, CA-17) first introduced the legislation in 2009, he says.

"This is a great example of tectonic plate movement, right there on the San Andreas Fault. It's very spectacular, very beautiful. Elevated to a park, it certainly will attract more visitors, which will be good for the economy in the rural areas."

Congressman Farr says the legislation (H.R. 3641) has the widespread support of cities and businesses that would benefit from increased tourism in San Benito and southern Monterey counties. The House Natural Resources Committee unanimously passed the bill on Wednesday, sending it to the House of Representatives for a vote.

Paul Spitler, senior regional conservation representative with The Wilderness Society, says creating a Pinnacles National Park would enhance its status as a recreation destination and boost tourism and the local economy.

"Pinnacles is a wonderful feature in the central California region. It is a huge boon to the local economies. If it were upgraded to a national park, it would draw visitors from around the world."

Spitler says while they're pleased the legislation is moving forward, they're disappointed the bill no longer includes a provision that would have provided extra protections for nearly 3,000 acres of wilderness within the park.

Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA