View Header


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 11, 2000
                 Pinnacles National Monument Expansion
                            January 11, 2000

President Clinton will sign a proclamation today expanding Pinnacles National Monument in California. The President will also sign proclamations creating the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument and the Agua Fria National Monument in Arizona and the California Coastal National Monument.

Expanding a 92-Year-Old National Treasure. President Theodore Roosevelt created the Pinnacles National Monument in 1908 to protect the spire-like rock formations that rise 500 to 1,200 feet high, the caves that lay below them, and a variety of volcanic features that rise above the smooth contours of the surrounding countryside. Two primary drainage channels cut water gaps through the rocks which were roofed over as large rocks spilled off the adjacent cliffs, slid down the slopes, and became wedged in the tops of gaps to form the talus caves of the monument. The monument, managed by the National Park Service, is located 65 miles south of San Jose.

Enlarging the monument's boundary is vital to the continued preservation of Pinnacles National Monument's resources. In addition to containing pieces of the same faults that have created the tremendous geological formations throughout the monument, the expansion lands hold some of the headwaters of the monument basin. Over millions of years, flash floods and currents of streams have helped to sculpt the geological features of the monument. The expansion lands also hold important habitat for raptors (such as prairie falcons, golden eagles, and red-tailed hawks), amphibians, and reptiles. The area is threatened by ex-urban development and by watershed degradation.

Managing the Expanded Monument. The 7,960 acres of expansion lands will be transferred from the Bureau of Land Management to the National Park Service and managed under the same laws and regulations that apply to the rest of the monument. Wilderness Study Areas in the expansion lands will continue to be managed in accordance with the Federal Land Policy and Management Act. Although 2,850 acres of private land are inside the expansion boundary, the private landowners will be unaffected by the designation unless they choose to sell, in which case the lands will become part of the monument. Valid existing rights will be unaffected. Hunting and future mineral and geothermal leasing will be prohibited, and water rights necessary to protect monument will be reserved for the federal government.

Public Process. When originally designated in 1908, Pinnacles consisted of 2,060 acres. The monument has since been expanded five times by subsequent Presidents and once by Congress. Further proposed expansions have been discussed at length in local communities in recent years. An expansion, along with wilderness designation, has on two occasions been proposed by Congressman Sam Farr of Monterey, California. No committee hearings have been held on his bill (H.R. 2279). Secretary Babbitt visited Pinnacles National Monument and the adjacent public lands in October 1999 to discuss the expansion proposal with private ranchers and other landowners as well as community and environmental leaders.

# # #