Taking Pinnacles to new heights as national park

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer has introduced legislation that would create Pinnacles National Park in San Benito County.

The bill would upgrade Pinnacles from a national monument while also adding nearly 3,000 acres of the monument to the National Wilderness Preservation System, the nation’s strongest form of public land protection.

It is a companion bill to legislation introduced one year ago in the House by Rep. Sam Farr, D-Salinas.

“The national park designation would also be a major boon to an economically starved area, a huge benefit for the state’s Central Coast,” he said. “Pinnacles is a hidden gem just waiting to be discovered.”

Pinnacles National Monument preserves unique geological features, including the spectacular spires and crags that are its namesake, as well as numerous caves.

It is also home to many native plant and animal communities and is the first unit of the national system to serve as a release site for the reintroduction of the endangered California condor.