Park backers in area eye promotion of California monument

Pinnacles National Monument is no more. Pinnacles National Park is now the nation’s 59th national park.

Actually the upgrade was complete last month, when President Barack Obama signed a law changing the name, but not the size of the 26,000-acre park or its budget.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and other officials in California ushered in the upgrade on Monday. Pinnacles National Park, which is about 60 miles southeast of San Jose, is California’s ninth national park.

Grand Valley residents seeking to make Colorado National Monument the nation’s 60th national park — and Colorado’s fifth —  said they were pleased that Pinnacles had been promoted.

“Their success fuels our own enthusiasm and endeavors as we continue to put out the facts and gain the unwavering kind of support and leadership that lifted Pinnacles National Monument to park status,” said Terri Chappell of Grand Valley Citizens for a National Park.

Pinnacles National Park includes volcanic monoliths and provides habitat for 63 endangered California condors. It also contains a 16,000-acre wilderness named for Schuyler Hain, who campaigned for preservation of the area, much as John Otto did for Colorado National Monument a century ago.

“If Hain’s lifelong dream can come true, so can Otto’s,” Chappell said.

Legislation for the Pinnacles upgrade was carried by Rep. Sam Farr, a California Republican, and supported by the state senators, both Democrats.

Grand Valley Citizens for a National Park is working to organize support for a higher designation for the 20,500-acre monument that overlooks the Grand Valley.

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