The arguments a handful of opponents, just over a year ago, used to try and stop the re-designation of Pinnacles National Monument to a national park, may sound hauntingly familiar. ” It will bring too many new rules and regulations! We don’t need “more” government! It will tighten air quality restrictions! It will impact neighboring properties! It will increase user fees! We will be “over-run” with tourists!”.
Here at Grand Valley Region Citizens for a National Park we’ve learned first hand the historic road to creating America’s national parks has always been fraught with questions, fears and misinformation. While the majority of cities in America would give anything for the opportunity to tout a national park in their backyard the fact is only a rare few National Monuments are left in the United States which actually meet the National Park Service’s increasingly stringent list of qualifications. Pinnacles National Monument was one. The Colorado National Monument is another.
Pinnacles National Monument officially gained park status at the beginning of last year thanks to the no less than heroic efforts of Rep. Sam Farr (D) California and a contingent of forward thinking leaders from the towns and counties surrounding the former national monument. At the time local leaders were faced with a desperately struggling economy. Leaders and residents alike gnashed their teeth and wrung their hands in meeting after meeting over falling sales tax and use revenues. Police, sheriff, and fire departments anguished over cuts to vital public safety programs while schools made the painful decision to cut teachers and increase class sizes. In the midst of all that hand wringing, all along, the answer stood no further than than a glance out any local office window toward Pinnacles National Monument.
Pinnacles National Monument like the Colorado National Monument was created because one man in each place found the landscapes among the most spectacular they had ever seen and spent a lifetime working to protect it. John Otto is known as the “Father of the Colorado National Monument” for his successful efforts to get it protected as a monument and life’s work to make it a national park.
For Pinnacles, it was Schuyler Hain, a homesteader, who 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.
One year after its official re-designation as a national park nearby communites are reaping the benefits. Park status in one move recognized their history and the unique geologic and historic value of Pinnacles, gave the area instant national and international recognition and in so doing, boosted the local economy in a tangible way. Here is the latest article from The Monterey County Herald.