California has a new national park, but it's nothing new to those already well versed in the state's great outdoors. Legislation signed by President Barack Obama today changes the name of Pinnacles National Monument to Pinnacles National Park. That technically gives California the claim of having the most national parks, even though the monument-turned-park was always a unit of the National Park Service.
The name change did come under some criticism early on because the land did not qualify under the usual standards for defining a national park. Nonetheless, bill authors Representative Sam Farr and Senator Barbara Boxer believe the new designation will boost tourism to this part of the Central Coast. Park visitation had already more than doubled in the last three years, increasing from around 170,000 in 2009 to nearly 400,000 in 2011.
"President Theodore Roosevelt first recognized the unique beauty of Pinnacles needed to be preserved when he established it as a national monument in 1908," said Wilderness Society President Jamie Williams, who applauds the new name. "And now Congress and President Obama have elevated this outdoor American treasure to a national park, further highlighting its volcanic rocky spires and tremendous biological diversity, including endangered species like the California condor."
Pinnacles will be the smallest National Park in California and joins eight others: Yosemite, Redwood, Joshua Tree, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Death Valley, Lassen Volcanic, and Channel Islands. In all, there are 25 national park units in the state.