And America's Newest National Park Is...
On Thursday, President Obama signed the bill turning Pinnacles National Monument into the United States’ newest national park.
Pinnacles sits about 80 miles southeast of San Francisco near the San Andreas Fault. It was originally designated a national monument by Teddy Roosevelt in 1908.
The 59th full national park is a 26,000-acre area known for its rocky spires, talus caves and as an important site for the conservation of the California condor. The park’s namesake pinnacles were created by the Neenach Volcano, which erupted 23 million years ago. The related volcanic activity has since moved farther north along the San Andreas Fault.
Although the bill will not increase the size of the park or its budget, business groups in San Benito County and many environmentalists believe it will still have a positive impact on the park’s future.
"This will literally put Pinnacles on the map," Paul Spitler, director of wilderness campaigns for the Wilderness Society, told Mercury News. "You have millions of people who drive on the highways right past Pinnacles and don't know that it's there. But national parks are special. They are significant. I think you'll see an increase in visitation."
The bill was created by California Congressman Sam Far and sponsored by California Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein.