National Park Service Press Release
For Immediate Release: January 11, 2013

AMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS: Salazar, Jarvis Celebrate Pinnacles' New Status as 59th National Park

President signs legislation to elevate status of 1908 national monument in California's Gabilan Mountains

WASHINGTON Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Director of the National Park Service Jonathan B. Jarvis today celebrated the establishment of America's 59th national park with President Obama's signature of legislation to elevate Pinnacles National Monument to become Pinnacles National Park.

"This ancient and awe-inspiring volcanic field with its massive monoliths, spires, cave passages and canyons is a place that restores our souls and energizes our bodies with its beauty and abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation," Salazar said. "I commend Rep. Sam Farr and Sen. Barbara Boxer for their vision in sponsoring the legislation to make it a national park."

"As with our other national parks and lands, Pinnacles also is an economic engine, supporting jobs in local communities," he said, noting that last year Pinnacles hosted more than 343,000 visitors. Each year, visitors spent about $4.8 million and support 48 jobs in the local economy.

Rising out of the Gabilan Mountains east of central California's Salinas Valley, Pinnacles is the result of millions of years of erosion, faulting and tectonic plate movement. Within the park's boundaries lie nearly 27,000 acres of diverse wild lands. Visitors delight in the beauty and variety of its spring wildflowers and more than 400 species of native bees. The Pinnacles rock formations are a popular destination to challenge technical and beginner climbers alike.

Designated as a national monument in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt, the park's management will not change by the legislation. The Pinnacles National Park Act recognizes the broader significance of park resources, specifically the chaparral, grasslands, blue oak woodlands, and majestic valley oak savanna ecosystems of the area, the area's geomorphology, riparian watersheds, unique flora and fauna, and the ancestral and cultural history of native Americans, settlers and explorers.

"We are proud to add Pinnacles to our family of national parks," said Jarvis. "The beauty of the land and the diversity of recreational and educational opportunities offer a unique experience to every visitor. Pinnacles is a place worthy to be called part of America's Best Idea."

Pinnacles National Park is also well known as an incubator of America's fragile population of
  • California Condors It is one of three condor release sites in the country, and the only release site in a national park. Pinnacles has been a partner of the California Condor Recovery Program since 2003. The park manages 31 free-flying condors. Each bird is monitored after its release to increase its chances of survival. Park biologists and volunteers monitor chicks hatched in the wild. They check blood and feather samples for signs of poisoning from ingestion of lead-contaminated food. They also monitor condors to aid research about their habitat and movement.

    In addition to changing the park's status from national monument to national park, the legislation names the park's 16,000 acres of wilderness as the

    Hain Wilderness National Park

    The name honors Schuyler Hain who was an 1891 homesteader from Michigan. Within 20 years he became known as the "Father of Pinnacles" leading tours up through Bear Valley and into the caves. Hain spoke to groups and wrote articles urging preservation of the area and acted as unofficial caretaker for many years. His efforts proved fruitful with the establishment of Pinnacles as a 2,500-acre national monument in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt.

    The rock formations of Pinnacles National Monument and the Gabilan Mountain Range divide the park into East and West Districts which are connected by trails, but not by a vehicle road. More than 30 miles of trails access geological formations, spectacular vistas and wildland communities. Pinnacles National Park is a day-use park, with occasional full moon hikes and dark sky astronomical observations led by ranger-interpreters.

    The National Park System is more than 84 million acres in size and contains 398 natural, cultural and historic landscapes. This system includes 59 national parks, 125 national historical parks, national and international historic sites, 75 national monuments, as well as many national memorials, battlefields, parkways, preserves, recreation areas, seashores and lakeshores and trails.

    Pinnacles National Monument
    History & Culture

    Native Americans

    Native Americans have inhabited California for over 10,000 years. Anthropologists believe Pinnacles was intermittently occupied by groups of Native Americans. Evidence in the form of arrowheads and bedrock mortars have been discovered within the monument. However, only a small percentage of the monument has been archeologically surveyed and the settlement pattern and impact of pre-European contact people in Pinnacles is yet to be determined.

    In post-contact times, Native Americans of western central California have been called Costanoans by Spanish colonials, (derived from Spanish for "people of the coast"), and Ohlone. These names are general terms used to describe over 50 distinct tribelets that inhabited the area below the San Francisco bay and south to Monterey bay before European settlement. Two local tribes, the Chalon and Mutsun, lived in the Pinnacles area. Based on mission records we know that the Chalon numbered approximately 900 people and the Mutsun numbered 3,000 individuals at the time of European settlement.

    There are ample plant and animal resources within Pinnacles that would have provided food, medicine, and materials throughout the year. In the spring people may have been in Pinnacles rebuilding their brush huts and gathering leafy parts of plants, grass and wildflower seeds and plant bulbs for food. They may have used Pinnacles as a gathering site for prized basket weaving materials such as the strong roots from the Santa Barbara sedge(Carex barbarae) or flower stalks from deergrass (Muhlenbergia rigens). In the fall people gathered acorns from the oak trees and pine nuts from the gray pine (Pinus sabiniana).

    Acorns were a major food source for the Chalone, Mutsun and many other California Indian tribes. Acorns were gathered in baskets and dried in the sun, then some were ground into meal and the rest stored in granaries. Wildflower seeds, like those that come from chia (Salvia columbariae), and red maids (Calandrinia ciliata) were gathered in great quantities and some seeds were replanted to ensure future harvests. Rabbits were hunted for food and the skins were cut into strips and woven into blankets and capes. Deer, elk, antelope, and possibly fish from the Salinas Valley were also major food sources. California Indians used techniques such as fire and selective harvesting to manage plant and animal resources for their use, and the practice of gathering and tending plants shaped the California landscape we know today.

    Today, the descendants of the Chalon and Mutsun Tribes are reconnecting with their traditional territories, reviving cultural traditions, and working to re-gain federal recognition. Pinnacles National Monument has a growing and mutually beneficial partnership with the Chalon and Mutsun tribes. Pinnacles staff and tribal members are working to cooperatively manage culturally significant resources, to enrich the monument's understanding and interpretation of Native American history, and to value the deep relationship between native people and their traditional territory.

    Spanish Missionaries

    The Spanish had a dramatic impact on the Native Americans who frequented Pinnacles. They traveled into California from Mexico and eventually established 21 religious missions between 1769 and 1823, stretching from San Diego to Sonoma.

    The mission closest to Pinnacles was built in Soledad in 1791. The Chalone Indians lived in the area east of Soledad Mission--close to what is now the western side of PinnaclesNational Monument.

    Willingly or not, many of the Chalone and Mutsun people became neophytes (baptized mission workers); however, the mission way of life was devastating to Indian people. A combination of diseases brought by the Spaniards and harsh changes to their way of life killed many Chalone and Mutsun people, and damaged their cultures. In 1770 the Indian population in California, which was already dropping from the effects of European diseases, was estimated at 300,000. By the mid-1800s, it was cut in half.

    Early Settlers

    In 1891 Schuyler Hain, a homesteader, arrived in the Pinnacles area from Michigan. During the next twenty years he became known as the "Father of Pinnacles" leading tours up through Bear Valley and into the caves. Hain spoke to groups and wrote articles urging preservation of the area and acted as unofficial caretaker for many years. His efforts proved fruitful with the establishment of Pinnacles as a 2500 acre national monument in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt.

    Horace Bacon established a ranch opposite the eastern entrance and was the school master at Bear Valley School (located on Hwy 25 one mile north of the Hwy 25 and Hwy 146 junction) for twenty years.

    In 1920 a one-way dirt road was constructed up to the Bear Gulch area making access to the caves easier for the increasing numbers of local residents who enjoyed camping and picnicking in the monument.

    Civilian Conservation Corps

    In 1933, the Civilian Conservation Corps established a camp in what is now the Old Pinnacles trailhead area. From 1933 to 1942, during cooler winter months, the CCC accomplished many projects. The dirt road up to Bear Gulch was widened, paved and completed in 1934. The CCC improved many of the trails that had been established by the early homesteaders, including the exciting steep and narrow trail that winds through the HighPeaks. They constructed the dam that forms the Bear Gulch reservoir and improved the trail into the caves, adding concrete steps and guard rails. Beginning in 1936 the CCC boys guided visitors through the caves using lanterns.

    Present Day

    Since 1908, the Monument increased in bits and pieces to its present size of about 26,000 acres. Many visitors come to hike, picnic, birdwatch, rock climb, learn about geology and plants, see wild animals or perhaps to simply enjoy the wilderness which offers peace and quiet.


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