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Public Statements

Pinnacles National Park Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. FARR. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 3641, known as the Pinnacles National Park Act. As the sponsor of this bipartisan legislation, I would also like to express my thanks to my friend, Congressman Denham from California, for his original cosponsorship of H.R. 3641.

The Pinnacles National Park Act will elevate America's 11th national monument, the Pinnacles National Monument, to a national park. Only Congress can designate a national park. This is the right thing to do because there are not a lot of examples of tectonic plate movement in our National Park System. This legislation would also rename the current Pinnacles Wilderness after Schuyler Hain, who first came to the area in 1886 and was largely responsible for getting the attention of Theodore Roosevelt, who first designated the monument in 1908.

The first designation was to protect the beautiful rock formations and talus caves, notable for its tunnels. It has since been expanded several times by executive order and by congressional mandate to its present size of over 26,000 acres. It is larger than several existing national parks.

Pinnacles is a culturally significant area for several Native American tribes. It served as the backdrop for John Steinbeck's ``Of Mice and Men'' and ``East of Eden.''

Anyone who has visited this place knows it's special. From exploring caves to viewing springtime wildflowers to hiking through spire-like rock formations, visitors and families can participate in activities that leave lasting memories. It is truly worthy of national park status.

The Pinnacles, themselves, are half of the skeletal remains of the Neenach Volcano, which erupted 23 million years ago, and are located at the junction of the Pacific and North American tectonic plates. The San Andreas Fault is just 4 miles to the east, and Miner's Gulch and Pinnacles Faults run directly through the Pinnacles system.

The Pinnacles system is home to 149 species of birds, 49 mammals, 22 reptiles, 6 amphibians, 68 butterflies, 36 dragonflies and damselflies, and nearly 400 different kinds of bees--I didn't even know there were that many--and many thousands of other invertebrates.

One project I'm particularly proud about is the reintroduction of the endangered California condor, the largest flying land bird in North America. Since 2003, the Park Service has been a part of the California Condor Recovery Program to reestablish California condors at Pinnacles National Monument.

This cooperative endeavor between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ventana Wildlife Society, Pinnacles Partnership, and others, in collaboration with the California Condor Recovery Team, has done a tremendous job on recovery efforts and public education. Many visitors come to this region to get an opportunity to see the condor in the wild.

This legislation has broad support from our counties of San Benito and Monterey, as well as the chambers of commerce, visitors bureaus, and from the respective counties who are enthusiastically supportive of this legislation. There is no opposition to the bill. The Pinnacles is uniquely located in coastal California to attract thousands of visitors each year who provide a viable and vital economic engine for San Benito County. Tourism is the primary focus for many of the business owners on the central coast. Increasing the number of tourists would promote a healthy impact for those not only in the retail sector, but also dining, lodging and sightseeing opportunities.

The new national park designation would strengthen the region's economic and tourism potential. There is no national park in that whole region. Research shows that for every one dollar invested by the Federal Government into our national parks, it returns $4 to the community in tourism dollars.

Situated slightly inland from the California coast, Pinnacles National Monument has not yet realized its full potential to reach locals and tourists. Many tourists travel, dine, and stay overnight in areas along the coast such as Monterey and Santa Cruz, where they are visiting to recreate, camp, view wildlife, and enjoy the great outdoors. However, many are not aware of the Pinnacles National Monument and, as a result, do not make short trip inland to see this treasure. By elevating its stature to a national park, I believe that more visitors will come through our restaurants and businesses and more visitors will stay overnight near the park.

I'd like to end with an inspiring quote from Ken Burns, who directed ``The National Parks: America's Best Idea.'' In a letter of support, Mr. Burns wrote for this legislation, he stated:

A Pinnacles National Park would preserve a unique portion of our land: not only a critical record of geologic time, what John Muir would have called a ``grand geological library'' that helps Americans look back millions of years to understand the vast tectonic forces that shaped--and still shape--our continent, but also a rare habitat for condors, a wide array of flowers, and 400 species of bees. It would preserve a place that, over the centuries, Native Americans, early Spanish settlers, homesteaders from the East, and Basque sheepherders have considered home, offering an important series of perspectives on the larger sweep of American history.

With that bit of wisdom, I would urge my colleagues to support our bipartisan legislation. Again, I would like to thank Jeff Denham, a Congressman from the region, for supporting and cosponsoring H.R. 3641, the Pinnacles National Park Act.

I ask your support.

Florentine Films

KEN BURNS AND DAYTON DUNCAN, STATEMENT FOR THE RECORD IN SUPPORT OF H.R. 3444, PINNACLES NATIONAL PARK ACT

During the last ten years, as we researched, filmed, and created our documentary series for PBS, The National Parks: America's Best Idea, we grew to appreciate the amazing diversity of the special treasures that constitute our national parks, every American's incredible inheritance. And in studying the history of the evolution of the national park idea, we learned that many of today's national parks were at one time national monuments--from the Grand Canyon to Death Valley, from Petrified Forest to Biscayne, from Congaree to most of Alaska's national parks, and so many more.

In that spirit, grounded in the tradition of recognizing the special importance of a national monument by extending its designation to that of a national park, we wish to wholeheartedly endorse H.R. 3444 and the creation of Pinnacles National Park.

A Pinnacles National Park would preserve a unique portion of our land: not only a critical record of geological time (what John Muir would have called a ``grand geological library'') that helps Americans look back millions of years to understand the vast tectonic forces that shaped--and still shape--our continent, but also a rare habitat for condors, a wide array of flowers, and 400 species of bees. It would preserve a place that, over the centuries, Native Americans, early Spanish settlers, homesteaders from the East, and Basque sheepherders have considered home, offering an important series of perspectives on the larger sweep of American history.

We also understand from our investigation of national park history that, while changing an area's designation from ``monument'' to ``park'' does not necessarily change its crucial attributes, it nonetheless alters its place in the American imagination. The Grand Canyon was just as wide and deep when it was a national monument as it is now as a national park, but the change enhanced its status in the eyes of the public--and in doing so increased its lure to visitors from our nation and abroad. So, too, a Pinnacles National Park, simply by its new designation, would attract and demand greater attention to the remarkable treasures the monument has to offer.

In closing, we would like to quote John Muir once more, when he was writing about the proposal to make Mount Rainier National Forest into Mount Rainier National Park: ``Happy will be the men who, having the power and the love and the benevolent forecast to [create a park], will do it. They will not be forgotten. The trees and their lovers will sing their praises, and generations yet unborn will rise up and call them blessed.'' Please give your support to creating Pinnacles National Park. Generations yet to come will thank you for it.

Ken Burns.

Dayton Duncan.

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