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Raptor Monitoring Update for July 2015 · NPS is Proposing Two New West Side Trails · Entrance Fee Increases Beginning Dec 1st

Raptor Monitoring Update for July 2015 (7/11/2015)

Hey Everyone -

Here is a final update on raptor activity at Pinnacles National Park as the breeding season comes to a close.

Prairie falcons (PRFA) and peregrine falcons (PEFA) have raised and fledged young from successful nests. Prairie falcon productivity was lower in 2015 compared to 29-year averages, but overall falcon productivity was supplemented by successful nest efforts of two peregrine falcon nests that produced fledglings.

In total, the following were documented for 2015:

  • 11 territories with PRFA pairs
  • 3 territories with PEFA pairs.

These are listed below:

  • Goat Rock / Resurrection Wall: PRFA nest, fledged 5 young
  • Teapot Dome / Tunnel / Egg: PRFA nest, fledged 5 young
  • Hawkins Peak: PEFA nest, fledged 2 young
  • General Balconies: PEFA nest, fledged 4 young
  • South Balconies: PRFA nest, fledged 2 young
  • Crowley Towers: PRFA nest, fledged 4 young
  • Machete / Citadel: PRFA pair, non-nesting
  • Little Pinnacles / Yaks: PRFA pair, non-nesting
  • Willow Spring Slide: PRFA nest, failed nest
  • Drywall Slide: PRFA pair abandoned area, PEFA pair seen hunting in area
  • North Chalone Peak: PRFA nest, fledged 3 young
  • South Chalone Peak: PRFA nest, failed nest
  • NE Section 15: PRFA nest, failed nest

The following territories were unoccupied, with no prairie falcons observed within them:

  • Pig Canyon
  • North Balconies
  • Scout Peak
  • Western Front
  • Discovery Wall
  • Pipsqueak Pinnacles
  • Frog / Hand
  • Piedras Bonitas / Gargoyle / Prescribed Burn Cliffs
  • Tugboat
  • D. Soto Canyon
  • Guard Rock
  • Rocks West of Chalone Housing
  • Mating Rocks / Tugboat
  • North Wilderness Rock
  • South Wilderness Rock

As noted above, PRFA productivity this season was lower than the 29-year averages for the raptor monitoring program. Eight PRFA pairs attempted to nest, and 5 nests successfully fledged 19 young, compared to 29-year averages of 11.9 nesting pairs, 10.0 successful nests, and 27.3 fledglings. Exact causes of the lower productivity this season are unknown, but likely factors include nest predation and lower prey availability due to the ongoing drought conditions. The two peregrine falcon nests together fledged a total of 6 fledglings, our highest annual fledge count for PEFA since breeding pairs returned to the park in 2004.

Please note that all climbing and hiking advisories have been lifted as of July 4th. Climbers and hikers generally did an excellent job of adhering to advisories and allowing falcons to nest in chosen territories throughout the park. I definitely appreciate the support!

In addition to PRFA and PEFA, twenty other raptor nests were confirmed this year. These included:

  • 7 red-tailed hawk nests
  • 3 red-shouldered hawk nests
  • 4 American kestrel nests
  • 2 Cooper's hawk nests.

A highlight for 2015 was the documentation of 4 long-eared owl nests, the highest number of nests recorded for this species of concern in a single year.

Thank you to all the staff who have continued to provide me with raptor observations; every detail on raptor behavior helps to provide a more complete picture of raptor breeding at the park. If anyone on staff wishes to report raptor observations, I would greatly appreciate it if you please fill out a wildlife observation card, and deposit it in my box in the RRM Office.

If you have any observations within the park to report, or any raptor-related questions, please contact me through email or extension 276. Thanks!


GAVIN EMMONS * Raptor / Condor Biologist *
5000 Highway 146, Paicines, CA 95043 * 831-389-4486 x276 *
Pinnacles National Park

NPS is Proposing Two New West Side Trails (7/3/2015)

The National Park Service (NPS) is proposing to construct two new trails within Pinnacles National Park. Both trails would be built on the west side of the park and would begin at the West Side Visitor Contact Station (VCS). Construction of the VCS was completed in 2012 but no associated trails were built at that time. Visitors parking at the VCS currently have no way of hiking to other hiking trails within the park. The road that connects the visitor contact station and Chaparral Area is a one lane curvy road without shoulders that is unsafe for hiking.

The proposal includes construction of a one mile accessible loop trail with views of the Lyons Homestead, spring wildflowers, and the High Peaks rock formation. Another hiking trail (approximately 1.2 miles) would connect the visitor contact station with the Chaparral Area trailheads. Other minor site improvements and interpretative components are also included in the project.

The initial comment period for the scoping phase of the study will extend from June 25 through July 25, 2015. This phase is called "scoping" because with public and stakeholder input, the NPS will determine the "scope" or overall approach to the study. The NPS is hosting a public meeting to explain the study process, answer questions, gather information, and listen to public ideas and concerns. An environmental assessment (EA) is expected to be completed and released to the public in the spring.

The public meeting will be held on Wednesday, July 8, 2015, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., in the Mission Room of the Soledad High School, which is located at 425 Gabilan Drive, Soledad, CA.

The public is invited to provide comments at the public meeting, comment online or by mail at:

National Park Service
Attn:Karen Cantwell
Pinnacles West Side Trail Project
333 Bush Street, Suite 500
San Francisco, CA

For more information:

Entrance Fee Increases Beginning December 1st (5/31/2015)

Contact: Jan Lemons, (831) 389-4486 x237

Paicines, Ca. -

Starting on December 1st, Pinnacles National Park will increase entrance fees for visitors in order to fund important maintenance and improvement projects within the park.

Entrance Type Current Fee December
2015 Fee
2017 Fee
2019 Fee
Annual Pass $20 $25 $35 $50
Per Vehicle
inc. Motorcycles
$10 $15 $20 $25
Per Person $5 $10 $12 TBD

"This modest increase in fees will allow us to continue to protect, preserve and share the special places here at Pinnacles National Park with current visitors and future generations," said Pinnacles National Park's Superintendent Karen Beppler-Dorn. "After carefully considering the impact of a fee increase on visitors and community members, we came to the conclusion that this is the right course of action to improve facilities and services important to visitors."

Entrance fees have supported a wide range of projects that improve the park and visitor experiences, including rehabilitating trails and trailhead signs, developing and installing exhibits in visitor centers, improving park water systems, providing ranger-led programs, and improving ADA accessibility.

In the fall of 2014, the National Park Service conducted a nationwide review of entrance fees. To solicit public input, Pinnacles launched a civic engagement campaign in December 2014.

During the public comment period, the park received very few formal comments. But the majority supported the implementation of fees in 2015.

About the National Park Service.

More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 407 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Visit us at www.nps.gov, on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

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The Park Service organizes activities and events throughout the year. For details see the Events Calendar for Pinnacles National Monument or call: (831) 389-4485 ext. 0, between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

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