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Obama designates Pinnacles Monument a national park

This March 5, 2010 file photo provided by the National Park Service shows a nesting California condor in a cranny near the High Peaks Trail in Pinnacles National Monument, Calif. (AP Photo/National Park Service, John Maio, file)

Published: Thursday, January 10, 2013 at 12:24 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 10, 2013 at 12:24 p.m.

SOLEDAD, — California's Pinnacles National Monument, a 40 square-mile site that includes caves and towering volcanic rock formations popular with climbers, became the country's 59th national park on Thursday.

President Barack Obama signed the bill creating the park in Washington.

The Central California area holds cultural significance for several Native American tribes and is also home to the endangered California condor.

A condor re-establishment program has been in place at Pinnacles since 2003. Every fall, captive-bred condors are released into the wild.

In 2010, for the first time in more than a century, a condor chick successfully hatched there. The park now manages a population of 32 free-flying condors. Other wildlife includes bobcats, cougars, coyotes and wild turkey.

The site was declared a national monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908.

The bill to make it a national park was introduced by California Democrats Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein in the Senate and by Democratic Rep. Sam Farr and Republican Rep. Jeff Denham in the House.

The park designation will help increase the number of visitors and boost area tourism, Boxer said.

The legislation also renames the current Pinnacles Wilderness as the Hain Wilderness after Schuyler Hain, an early conservationist whose efforts led to the establishment of the monument.

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