If you visit the slice of Central California serenity known as Pinnacles, you might notice the sign out front now says, “National Park.” It became a national park in January when President Barack Obama signed a bill introduced by Central California Congressman Sam Farr. On Monday, the first sign that says so was unveiled.
It’s the nation’s 59th national park, and the ninth in California, making it the state with the most national parks. Pinnacles was already a national monument, which comes with the same level of protection as a park. But Farr said the new designation will bring more attention and jobs to Monterey and San Benito counties.
“The significance of moving a designation from a monument to a national park is tremendous,” Farr said. “People don’t get in their cars in the summer to see national monuments. They do take the family to visit national parks.”
Farr introduced the legislation at the urging of local chambers of commerce. But he’s a bit of a parks geek himself: he named all the national parks in California -- in order of their establishment -- during our interview. His father, Fred Farr was a politician, environmentalist and friend of Ansel Adams.
“I always felt that one of the greatest accomplishments you could make in public life is to set aside land in permanent protection and national parks, to me, is the crown jewel of all of those,” said Farr.
Pinnacles, named for the slender rocky spires at its center, is home to endangered California condors and hundreds of species of bees in addition to its geological attractions. It was set aside as a monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908. (Presidents can create national monuments, but only Congress can create national parks.)