Pinnacles National Monument To Become National Park

A new bill in Washington will soon turn Pinnacles National Monument in central California into the 59th  National Park.

The Pinnacles National Park Act was approved by the House in July, passed the Senate on Sunday and is now headed to the president's desk. President Obama's signature is all that's needed to make the upgrade official.

The recent bill was sponsored by California Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, who told the LA Times that they hope the transition will ensure the area "gets the recognition it deserves" and helps boost income from tourism.

Pinnacles, located near Soledad, CA., was designated a national monument by Theodore Roosevelt in 1908. The 26,000-acre area in the Gabilan Mountains is the remnant of an ancient volcanic field. While the volcano has since moved farther north along the San Andreas Fault, it left behind huge rock formations and talus caves created by falling slabs of rock.

The area plays a critical role in the recovery of the California condor. The National Park Service has released 32 condors into the park since 2003 and they nest in Pinnacles' rocky peaks. If the area becomes a national park, it will provide additional protection to the condor's habitat, as well as to one of California's great outdoor playgrounds. The area is popular with both hikers and climbers. 

Via La Times and Gadling.