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FOP News Archives

201503/16 Raptor Monitoring / Climbing Advisories Update
201502/08 Our Hero! One Small Climber's Big Effort For the Cause
201502/05 Trash Problems At The Park
201502/04 2015 Raptor Monitoring Report
201501/27 Pinnacles Partnership Funds New Accessible Viewing Scopes at the Park
201412/03 Proposed Park Fee Increases
201409/25 Pinnacles Climber Appreciation Weekend
201409/16 Fundraising Birding Hikes at Pinnacles
201408/07 Summer Speaker Series (August)
201407/26 Park Fee Increase Goes into Effect August 1
201407/12 July 2014 Raptor/Closures Update
201406/30 Summer Speaker Series: Climate and Sustainability
201406/17 Summer Speaker Series - John Boessenecker
201404/30 April 2014 Raptor/Closures Update
201404/18 FREE Park Admission
201404/17 Junior Ranger Day
201403/15 2104 Raptor / Closures Update
201402/24 Help The Park Monitor Condors
201401/22 First Raptor Report of 2014
201312/05 Pinnacles Partnership Fundraising Drive
201310/02 Government Shutdown Closes Park
201309/28 2013 Trail Maintenance Celebration
201309/07 Protect the Pinnacles From Extreme Oil
201307/30 GMP (General Management Plan) Approved!
201307/30 August - Summer Speaker Series
201307/05 Climbing Closures & Raptor Update
201306/30 2013 Summer Speaker Series
201305/01 Celebrate International Migratory Bird Day
201304/23 Park Opens Select Formations to Climbing Early
201304/13 March/April Raptor Update
201303/12 Raptor Update for Feb 2013
201302/28 Amah Mutsun Tribal Band receives the Hartzog Award
201302/06 Pinnacles NATIONAL Park
201301/23 First Raptor Report of 2013
201301/23 2013 Climbing Closures In Effect
201301/01 Let Your Voice Be Heard! Send Your GMP Feedback.
201211/05 Latest GMP Released for Review
201210/31 Public Meetings for GMP Review
201210/13 Summer Speaker Series Final Month
201209/28 Traffic Delays on Park Road
201209/26 Speaker Series: Wildlife of Pinnacles
201209/15 Traffic Delays: Sept 17/18/19
201209/15 LEED Platinum Rating for New Visitor Station
201209/11 Speaker Series for September
201209/04 New Climbing/Hiking Guide Listings
201208/30 2012 Speaker Series: Slithery Snakes
201208/25 Summer Series Continues
201208/13 Summer Speaker Series Continues
201207/31 Announcing the Pinnacles Speakers Series
201207/02 All Closures Lifted for 2012
201205/30 Raptor Update for Apr/May
201204/16 Cllimbing Advisories Update
201204/09 Special Ranger Programs This Weekend (Apr 14-15)
201204/05 New Visitor Station Dedication, April 11th
201203/10 Raptor Monitoring Update - February 2012
201201/13 Fee Free Weekend Features Family Junior Ranger Day
201201/13 West Side Visitor Station is Now Open
201112/08 Man Rescued After Being Pinned Under Boulder
201112/08 FOP Member Assists in Rescue Operation
201112/07 Pinnacles West Side Visitor Contact Station Nears Completion
201111/25 Prescribed Fire Studies Planned
201111/18 West Side Transition To New Location
201108/27 Condor Comeback 2011
201106/02 National Trails Day This Weekend
201105/17 Closure of Bear Gulch Cave
201105/16 VOLUNTEERS NEEDED! National Trails Day
201104/28 Trail Work Day - Success!
201104/17 Details for April 23rd Trail Work Day
201104/03 Condor Egg Hatches in Pinnacles
201103/31 Upcoming Trail Work - Volunteers Needed
201103/21 West Side Visitor Center Construction
201103/14 Opening of Bear Gulch Cave
201101/13 2011 Climbing Advisories Starting
201101/10 2011 Closure Update
201012/01 Construction Begins on New West Side Visitor Center
201010/27 Scout Peak Outhouse Closure
201008/23 Tourist Trap Restoration Completed
201007/26 Volunteers Wanted
201007/01 Tourist Trap Closure
201006/02 Climbing Closures Update
201006/01 Prescribed Burn Plans for June and Fall
201005/14 Condor Chick Evacuated due to Lead Exposure
201004/06 First Condor Chick Hatches at Pinnacles in Over 100 Years
201004/05 Emergency Closure Announced
201003/26 Park Opens Nexus/Sexus Area Early
201003/24 Latest 'New' Routes List
201001/28 Spring 2010 Artist in Residence Program
201001/17 Condor Partnership Takes Flight
201001/10 Rebolting Report - Adam's Apple
201001/07 Climbing Advisories Going Into Effect
200912/08 Condor Dies of Lead Poisoning
200911/21 Park Assists Stranded Climbers
200911/03 Wild Raised Condor Chick Takes Flight
200911/03 Climber Registration Logs Relocated
200909/23 Witness California Condors First Flight
200909/01 West Side Reopens
200909/01 Free National Parks Films
200908/29 West Side Closed Due To Fire
200907/08 Climbing Areas Reopen
200907/08 New Additions to Summit Registry Project
200905/25 New Raptor Research
200905/11 Latest 2009 Raptor Monitoring Report
200904/27 First Condor Nest in Over 70 Years
200904/08 2009 RockPile Rendezvous Wrap Up
200903/16 Important Closure Update (Discovery Wall) - New Raptor Activity
200901/30 2009 Raptor Nesting Update
200901/14 Pinnacles Turns 101
200811/19 General Management Plan Update
200810/31 Rain Cancels Condor Release
200810/27 Condor Release Event - Details
200810/22 Witness First Flight of Juvenile California Condors
200809/06 Weakened Condor is Rushed for Treatment
200808/01 General Management Plan Meetings
200806/17 Prescribed Burns Delayed
200806/03 Special Guests at Rockpile Rendezvous
200805/29 Rockpile Rendezvous
200805/08 Homesteader’s Celebration Weekend
200805/05 Climbing Closures Updated
200805/01 Pinnacles National Monument Hosts Rockpile Rendezvous
200802/22 Climbing Closures Update
200801/17 Climbing Advisories In Effect
200801/11 Pinnacles Centennial Rededication Ceremony
200711/02 Community Outreach Update
200710/21 Pinnacles Climbing Guide Released
200710/17 New Pinnacles Visitor Center
200709/21 End of Season Raptor Report
200708/15 Condors Have Highest Recorded Lead Levels
200708/15 Centennial Celebration
200708/03 Climbing Areas Reopen
200706/27 FOP Adds Online Trip Reports
200705/08 Help Us Preserve Climbing At Pinnacles
200704/27 Pinnacles Awarded Junior Ranger Ambassadors Grant
200704/27 Two California Condors Take First Free Flight
200704/21 Celebrate National Park Week
200704/10 More California Condors Will Fly Free at Pinnacles
200703/30 Entrance Fee Increase Proposal
200703/01 2007 Condor Release
200703/01 Raptor Monitoring/Climbing Closures Update
200702/16 Monument in Planning for the Next Century
200701/18 Climbing Advisories Are In Effect
200612/13 Pinnacles Partnership Program Launch
200611/04 Machete Ridge Rescue Update
200610/25 Upper Bear Gulch Cave ReOpens
200610/16 Temporary Road Closure
200609/20 Climbers Rescued Off Machete Ridge
200609/15 Unexpected Closing of the Bear Gulch Cave
200608/28 5000 Acres Targeted for Development
200607/18 Raptor Update - July 2006
200607/14 New Waste Displosal Option
200607/13 The Future of the California Condor
200607/13 Condor 307 Treated For Elevated Blood Lead Levels
200606/19 Possible Condor Poisoning
200606/08 2006 Raptor Nesting Report
200605/12 Connecting Parks and Communities
200604/22 Lost & Found: Gear Found on West Side
200604/17 Ranchland to Parkland
200601/14 2006 Climbing Advisories/Closures Now In Effect
200512/12 Call to All Climbers
200509/06 More California Condors Fly Free at Pinnacles
200508/01 New Park Superintendent
200507/12 Climbing Restrictions Lifted
200505/03 International Migratory Bird Day
200504/13 Pinnacles Earth Day Celebrations
200504/07 Peregrines Return To Pinnacles
200503/20 Summit Registry Preservation Program
200503/05 Bear Gulch Cave Opens
200502/18 Base Jumpers Violate Closures
200502/04 24 Hour Exit Option For West Side
200502/04 Important Park Land Acquisition
200412/30 Single Visitor Fee Increase
200410/23 Bear Gulch Cave Remains Open
200410/07 More Condors at Pinnacles National Monument
200409/24 West Nile Found At Pinnacles
200408/10 Peregrine Pair Returns to Pinnacles
200408/09 Wilderness Month at Pinnacles National Monument
200406/28 2004 Climbing Restrictions Lifted
200406/11 Summer Programs
200405/21 Night Hike
200405/05 International Migratory Bird Day Programs
200404/15 2004 Closures Update
200404/15 After Hours Park Access Granted!
200404/15 Climbing Accident on Discovery Wall
200403/24 Climber's Condor Warning
200403/10 Two Plus Week Opening of the Bear Gulch Cave
200403/03 Weekend Shuttle Service for Pinnacles National Monument
200401/10 Closures In Effect
200309/26 Passing of Ranger Andrew Artz
200301/16 2003 CLIMBING ADVISORIES
200212/12 YMCA Adds Indoor Climbing Wall
200212/10 Public Meeting for Re-opening of Bear Gulch Cave
200211/15 Chalone Creek Area Construction
200210/01 Heat Related Fatality at the Park
200208/28 Voluntary Climbing Registry at Pinnacles
200208/13 Galen Rowell Dies in Plane Crash
200208/10 Fee Free Day at Pinnacles National Monument
200207/04 Climbing Areas Reopen
200206/05 Chalone Creek Restoration Environmental Assessment
200205/31 Condor Program Environmental Assessment Ready For Review
200205/02 Radio Show Features Pinnacles' Chad Moore
200204/23 East Side Parking Shuttle Update
200204/15 Friends Of Pinnacles Launches New Site
200204/15 Mountain Lion Encounter
200202/01 New Weekend Shuttle Service
200105/01 Another Accident at The Tourist Trap
200104/01 Hiker Rescued
200103/01 A New Type of Bolt at the Pinns
200007/28 Pinnacles Climber is Declared Brain-Dead
200007/22 Climbing Accident on the Tourist Trap
200003/07 A Fond Farewell To Clarence Wheeler
200003/04 Drug Arrest at Pinnacles National Monument
200001/12 Pinnacles Park Expansion Signed
199912/13 Parks Expansion Urged
199912/01 West Side Pinnacles Closed in December
199910/07 Clinton Wants To Add 4,906 Acres to Pinnacles
199907/08 Chief Ranger Mark Igo Retires
199905/26 New Bridge Construction
199903/08 Climbers Rescued on Machete Ridge
199903/01 Castle Rock Preliminary General Plan
199901/26 Message From Park Superintendent - Gary Candelaria
199812/01 Results of Recent Management Plan Meetings
199811/14 FOP Web Site is Back On-line
199811/01 Upcoming Management Plan Meetings
199807/01 FIRE Closes Monument!

Raptor Monitoring / Climbing Advisories Update (03/16/2015)

Hey Everyone -

Here is an update on raptor activity at Pinnacles National Park for the 5 weeks.

Prairie falcons (PRFA) have established territories and are engaging in courtship displays and site preparations for nesting. Two peregrine falcon (PEFA) pairs – one that nested last year for the tenth consecutive year at Hawkins and another that nested at Balconies for the first time in 50 years – wintered at the park. The peregrine falcon pairs have both been observed in the Hawkins and Balconies areas respectively, calling to each other, engaging in courtship displays, defending the territories by chasing other birds (condors, hawks, and ravens) out of the areas, and inspecting potential nest sites. A third PEFA pair was briefly observed at Drywall Slide in January has not been seen again, and a PRFA pair is now occupying the Drywall territory.

At present the following have been documented: 7 territories with PRFA pairs, 3 more territories with single prairie falcons, and the 2 PEFA territories. These are listed below:

  • Goat Rock / Resurrection Wall: PRFA pair
  • Teapot Dome / Tunnel / Egg: PRFA pair
  • Hawkins Peak: PEFA pair
  • General Balconies: PEFA pair
  • South Balconies: Single PRFA, pair likely
  • Crowley Towers: PRFA pair
  • Machete / Citadel: PRFA pair
  • Willow Spring Slide: Single PRFA, pair likely
  • Drywall Slide: PRFA pair
  • North Chalone Peak: PRFA pair
  • South Chalone Peak: Single PRFA, pair likely
  • NE Section 15: PRFA pair

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

  • Pig Canyon
  • Little Pinnacles (Yaks)
  • 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

In general, PRFA activity this season seems to be proceeding normally in regards to annual occupancy and courtship schedules. Some of the unoccupied territories listed above may have active falcon pairs that arrive later in the season by late March or early April. The territorial PEFA pair at Balconies is also occupying the Machete territory, and advisories are in effect to include the upper southwest face of Machete as a partial advisory area for the season.

Please note that climbing and hiking advisories are in effect as of January 20th. Raptor advisory signs have been placed at Hawkins, Scout, Balconies, and Little Pinnacles, to protect these sensitive species from the pressures of off-trail hiking and climbing during the upcoming nesting season. Updated raptor advisory brochures / handouts are available at the east side Pinnacles Visitor Center and the west side Visitor Contact Station. Any assistance park staff can provide in diverting visitors from advisory areas, and reporting incidents of climbers and hikers in advisory areas to law enforcement staff, is highly appreciated!

Golden eagles have also been seen regularly in and near the park over the past month. No nesting activity has been confirmed yet.

Other raptors observed in the park in February and early March include American kestrels, and red-shouldered hawks have been seen in the Pinnacles Campground, in McCabe Canyon, and along the fire road near the Bench Trail junction, perching in valley oaks, vocalizing, and beginning to add stick material to nest constructs. Red-tailed hawk pairs are actively courting and preparing nests in Rose Canyon, near the Butterfield Barn, in Pig Canyon, Crowley Drainage, and near Frog and Hand. Cooper’s and sharp-shinned hawks are active throughout the park along riparian corridors. Great-horned owls have been heard vocalizing in Condor Gulch, Bear Gulch, the Pinnacles Campground, Pig Canyon, near Scout Peak, and near Machete Ridge. Long-eared owls have been observed at the north extent of the North Wilderness Trail.

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. Also note that Joseph Belli and Aly Schmidt will be part of the raptor monitoring team for 2015 and will be assisting with surveys. If you can't get a hold of me for questions, feel free to ask or pass along observations to them as well.

In addition, thanks to Mike Shelley, James Bouknight, Matt McCarthy, Jack Peabody, Paul Johnson, Sierra Willoughby, Linda Regan, Dan Ryan, Jennie Jones, Brent Johnson, Arianna Punzalan, and Alacia Welch for raptor observations. I appreciate the support!

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

Our Hero! One Small Climber's Big Effort For the Cause (02/08/2015)

Our Hero is an understatement.

Teagan on Twinkle Toes

Teagan on the West Side classic, Twinkle Toes

Sometimes, here at FOP, when we are in the middle of all the rebolting, the updates, the newsletters, etc. and one more person says, without thinking, "Hey, why haven't you replaced the anchors on...?", we can't help feeling a bit unappreciated. Of course, in our hearts we know that people are aware of our work. The occasional donations and pats on the back from FOP members and the Park Service are greatly appreciated and do go a long way towards keeping our spirits up.

But every once in a blue moon something amazing happens. In this instance, it took the rather surprising form of a 9-year-old girl from Monterey.

Teagan started climbing when she was 4 and has made several trips to the Pinnacles to climb with her father, Charles.

When Teagan and her fourth-grade classmates were assigned to organize fund-raisers for the non-profits of their choice, she researched her options. Instead of going with a well-established, large non-profit group, Teagan decided to focus on local groups related to rock climbing. She finally chose Friends Of Pinnacles, not just because they fit the criteria, but also because they were not well known. Teagan liked the idea of teaching people about an unfamiliar group and what it is doing to help, along with raising funds to support an activity in which she participates.

With a little help from her father (who runs the Sanctuary Rock climbing gym in Monterey) and her mother, Melissa, Teagan planned a bake sale to be held at the climbing gym. Demonstrating cunning market strategy, she put up announcements a few days before the event, and a donation jar, so people would know to bring their appetites and pocket books, while also giving those who could not attend an opportunity to contribute.

The night before the event, Teagan baked dozens of muffins from scratch and prepared several pitchers of lemonade.

The Bake Sale was a huge success and Teagan brought in over $120 on the day. Additional donations brought the total to just over $220.

We here at FOP are blown away. This kind of effort is truly above and beyond. We are sending this special thank you to Teagan with additional thanks to her parents, Charles and Melissa, and all of those gym patrons who were willing to contribute to Teagan's cause.

Charles Schrammel runs Sanctuary Rock Gym in Monterey.

Trash Problems At The Park (02/05/2015)

As many of you are already aware, the trash problem has increased dramatically since the Park officially became a National Park. Visitor counts are way up and along with it seems to come the garbage.

As you can see from the correspondence below, FOP is trying to do what it can.

Climbers are generally already aware of the need to clean up after themselves, but there is more that we can all do.

Next time you go climbing you might:

  1. Carry several, medium-sized garbage bags in your pack
    Clip one outside your pack and fill it as you hike
  2. Inform the Park of what you find and/or collect
    It is best if you send an email on the day of your cleanup; this way there is a record of your work
  3. Let FOP know what you did and we will post it in our ongoing effort to raise awareness and document efforts
  4. We are talking about organizing some cleanups, but don't wait for us - you can organize your own cleanups.
    A great way to do this is to get a group of people together for a climbing day, knock off a couple hours early and do cleanup on the way back to the cars.

Please feel free to contact FOP if you have other information or suggestions.

Here's a copy of the note Bruce sent to the park:

Clint and I were at the Pinnacles to rebolt the Hatchet yesterday(which, as it turns out has already been rebolted) and ran across all this trash in and around the climber's trail as it passes Ridge Rock. The final tally was:

  • 43 glass bottles
  • 46 aluminum cans
  • 3 tin cans
  • 13 plastic bottles
  • 23 oyster shells(!)

See the attached photo.

Clearly, some group of people have been going up there and having some sort of party/ritual and just tossing their refuse in the bushes. As a bit of forensic intel, the date markings on some of the bottles was 7/2011. It would be nice to ban glass bottles on the Park's trails though maybe that would just mean more aluminum cans.

Sincerely,

Bruce Hildenbrand (FOP)


2015 Raptor Monitoring Report & Climbing Advisories (02/04/2015)

For those who don't know me, my name is Gavin Emmons, and I have returned for a 13th season as the raptor biologist at Pinnacles National Park. I just wanted to send everyone an update as to the status of raptors for the past month.

Prairie falcons (PRFA) have returned to Pinnacles and are establishing territories and engaging in courtship displays. Two peregrine falcon (PEFA) pairs – one that nested last year for the tenth consecutive year at Hawkins and another that nested at Balconies for the first time in 50 years – wintered at the park. The peregrine falcon pairs have both been observed in the Hawkins and Balconies areas respectively, calling to each other, engaging in courtship displays, and defending the territories by chasing other birds (condors, hawks, and ravens) out of the areas. A third PEFA pair was briefly observed chasing pigeons at Drywall Slide. Additional surveys will help us determine if this pair was migrating through the park or may be preparing to occupy the Drywall territory. The first prairie falcons were confirmed at Resurrection Wall, Crowley Towers, and Egg Rock by the beginning of 2015. At present the following have been documented: 4 territories with PRFA pairs, 3 more territories with single prairie falcons, and the 3 PEFA territories. These are listed below:

  • Goat Rock / Resurrection Wall: Single PRFA, pair likely
  • Teapot Dome / Tunnel / Egg: PRFA pair
  • Hawkins Peak: PEFA pair
  • General Balconies: PEFA pair
  • Crowley Towers: Single PRFA, pair likely
  • Machete / Citadel: PRFA pair
  • Willow Spring Slide: Single PRFA, pair likely
  • Drywall Slide: PEFA pair
  • North Chalone Peak: PRFA pair
  • NE Section 15: PRFA pair

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

  • Pig Canyon
  • Little Pinnacles (Yaks)
  • South Balconies
  • 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

South Chalone Peak and Marion Canyon have not yet been checked for raptor territorial status.

In general, PRFA activity this season seems to be proceeding normally in regards to annual occupancy and courtship schedules. Some of the unoccupied territories listed above will likely have active falcon pairs that arrive later in the season by February or March. The territorial PEFA pair at Balconies is also occupying the Machete territory, and advisories are in effect to include the upper southwest face of Machete as a partial advisory area for the season.

Please note that climbing and hiking advisories are in effect as of January 20th. Raptor advisory signs have been placed at Hawkins, Scout, Balconies, and Little Pinnacles, to protect these sensitive species from the pressures of off-trail hiking and climbing during the upcoming nesting season. Updated raptor advisory brochures / handouts are available at the east side Pinnacles Visitor Center and the west side Visitor Contact Station. Any assistance park staff can provide in diverting visitors from advisory areas, and reporting incidents of climbers and hikers in advisory areas to law enforcement staff, is highly appreciated!

Golden eagles have also been seen regularly in and near the park over the past month. No occupancy or nesting activity has been confirmed yet.

Other raptors observed in the park in January include American kestrels, and red-shouldered hawks have been seen in the Pinnacles Campground, near the Bacon barn, and in McCabe Canyon, perching in valley oaks and vocalizing, and beginning to add stick material to nest constructs. Cooper’s and sharp-shinned hawks are active throughout the park along riparian corridors. Owls have been quiet so far this season but will likely pick up as the breeding season proceeds. Great-horned owls have been heard vocalizing in Condor Gulch, Bear Gulch, the Pinnacles Campground, Pig Canyon, near Scout Peak, and near Machete Ridge.

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. Also note that Joseph Belli and Aly Schmidt will be part of the raptor monitoring team for 2015 and will be assisting with surveys. If you can't get a hold of me for questions, feel free to ask or pass along observations to them as well.

In addition, thanks to Paul Johnson, Sierra Willoughby, Lori Frusetta, Linda Regan, Dan Ryan, Jennie Jones, Mike Shelley, Brent Johnson, Danielle Powell, Rose Fielding, and Alacia Welch for raptor observations. I appreciate the support!

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

Pinnacles Partnership Funds New Accessible Viewing Scopes at the Park (01/27/2015)

Pinnacles Partnership is excited to announce the receipt of a grant from The Fund for People in Parks to fund the purchase of four binocular viewing scopes for Pinnacles National Park. Through a joint collaboration between Pinnacles National Park, Pinnacles Partnership, and The Fund, the scopes are being installed in January and February and will be ready for visitor use by the end of February.

The addition of these scopes provides viewing access from areas near parking lots on the east and west sides of the park. The scopes offer an enhanced view of scenic features of the park, especially for visitors who may have difficulty hiking the trails.

Two scopes are currently being installed on the east side of the park at the Peaks View parking area. In the next few weeks two more scopes will be installed on the west side of the park in the Chaparral parking area. These locations were strategically chosen to provide visitors with accessibility, convenient parking access, views of the iconic Pinnacles rock formations, and possible condor and other wildlife viewing. The scopes are located in areas with restrooms, parking, and trailheads. In addition to convenient locations, one scope on each side of the park is wheelchair accessible.

You can support Pinnacles National Park and projects like this by joining Pinnacles Partnership today! Pinnacles Partnership is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring excellence in education, resource stewardship, and visitor experiences at the park. We are seeking new members, additional board members, and volunteers. Join us or learn more by visiting www.PinnaclesPartnership.org.

The Fund for People in Parks provides private funding and resources to complete inspirational projects that directly benefit visitors in the western National Parks. The Fund continues the early tradition of private philanthropy for National Parks and concern for the visitor that was at the heart of the founding and subsequent growth of the National Park system. By providing private funds and other resources for worthy projects that cannot be accomplished through public funding alone, The Fund develops public/private partnerships that create the critical margin of excellence that enhances the visitor’s experience in Parks.

Proposed Park Fee Increases (12/03/2014)

Pinnacles National Park will be holding open forums to discuss possible fee increases from 2015 through 2019. The current park entrance fees have been in place since August 2014. The National Park Service is proposing to increase the entrance fees as follows:

  • Per Person (Entry Valid for 7 Days)
    from - $5.00 to $10.00 in 2015 and $12 by 2017
  • Per Motorcycle (Entry Valid for 7 Days)
    from $10.00 to $15.00 in 2015 and $20 in 2017
  • Per Vehicle (Entry Valid for 7 Days)
    from $10.00 to $15.00 in August 2015to $20.00 in 2017 and to $25.00 in 2019
  • Park Annual Pass (Entry Valid for 1 year form Date of Purchase)
    from $15.00 to $25.00 in 2015 to $35 in 2017 and $50 in 2019.

These rates will bring the park in line with other similar National Parks.

Entrance fees are not charged to persons under 16 years of age or holders of the Interagency Annual Pass or Federal Recreational Senior, Access, or Military Passes. These passes may be obtained at the Park.

"We recognize the need to keep the park experience affordable while at the same time balancing the need to improve the park facilities," said Pinnacles National Park Superintendent Karen Beppler-Dorn. "The money from the most recent fee increase was used to implement a shuttle system throughout the park. Increasing entrance fees will be used for improvements at the park in visitor facilities such as restrooms, campgrounds, a visitor center, and improved trail signage."

Other projects that have been completed as a result of fee money include: Trail improvements on the High Peaks Trail, new road signs, and rehabilitation of resource damage.

Pinnacles National Park is a strong economic engine for the surrounding area. In 2013, more than 237,677 park visitors contributed $13,000,000 to the local economy and supported 158jobs related to tourism.

Comments on the Fee Increases may be posted on the park's Facebook page. Comment cards will also be available at park visitor centers. Comments may be emailed to the Park Public Affairs Officer Jan Lemons or call: 831-389-4486 X237.

Following the public engagement feedback will determine how, or if, a fee increase would be implemented.

A public meeting is scheduled:

Day: Saturday December 13th
Time: 2:00pm
Location: Pinnacles National Park Campground Amphitheatre.

Comments will be accepted via telephone, online, and in person until January 4th, 2015.

2nd Annual Pinnacles Climber Appreciation Weekend (09/25/2014)

>> Friday October 24th through Sunday Oct 26th, 2014 <<

Join us for another action packed weekend of teamwork and fun! This year we will define preferred pathways and eliminate "social trails" leading to the Upper Crust and also Pipsqueak Pinnacle and the Unmentionable. Teams will further the excellent work started last year at Tourist Trap, Discovery Wall and Teaching Rock too. Bring your gear for late afternoon climbing and cash for Raffle Tickets and the Auction. Fun ‘n Games Fri night, BBQ Sat night sponsored by the AAC! Access Fund Conservation Team, Friends of Pinnacles, National Park Service & Mountain Tools all support the event.

  • FREE Park Admission
  • FREE Camping
  • FREE Climbing
  • FREE T-Shirt
  • FREE Sat night BBQ & Entertainment
  • AWESOME Gear Raffle & Auction

To get the full skinny and pre-register for T-Shirt, Group Camp Site and Meal Preference go to our Web Site (www.mtntools.com/pinns) or contact us to field a local team and coordinate car pools.

Fundraising Birding Hikes at Pinnacles National Park (09/16/2014)

Join Pinnacles Partnership's Pinnacles Condor Fund for their Guided Birding Hikes this fall at Pinnacles National Park. Funds raised through these hikes will benefit the Condor Restoration Program.

Hikes will be led by Rusty Scalf and Richard Neidhardt. Scalf is a life-long birder who has been teaching bird identification to beginning birders since 1990. He is active in the County Breeding Bird Atlas programs of Alameda, Contra Costa, Yolo, and Solano counties. He also leads trips for the Monterey Birding Festival. Neidhardt is a long-time volunteer on the Pinnacles National Park's Condor Crew and has intimate knowledge of the Central California condor flock.

Fall hike dates are:

  • October 4 and 18
  • November 1 and 22
  • December. 6

The participation donation is $50 per person. All walks meet at the east side Visitor Center at 8:30 a.m. Participants should bring binoculars, water, lunch, and sun protection. Hiking trails and length of time are individualized depending on participants and other conditions. Plan to enjoy a full day of learning at Pinnacles National Park!

Click here to Register.

Email us with your questions.

Contact: Rochelle Fischer, 831-637-4879
Rochelle@pinnaclespartnership.org

Summer Speaker Series (August) (08/07/2014)

The Pinnacles Summer Speaker Series continues with:

Wildlife!

  • Aug 9th, 11:00 AM
    (Pinnacles West Side Visitor Center)
    Paul Johnson, wildlife biologist, will be discussing the varies and fantastic animals of Pinnacles National Park.
    We're a refuge of all kinds of amazing creatures from Coast Horned Lizards to might Mountain Lions.

Call of the Condor

  • Aug 16th, 11:00 AM
    (Pinnacles West Side Visitor Center)
    Condor biologist Arianna Punzalan will explain the life and details of this critically endangered bird as well as the story of the massive conservation effort that is bringing it back from the brink.

For more information call the West Side visitor station @ (831)389-4427.

Park Fee Increase Goes into Effect August 1 (07/26/2014)

On August 1, 2014 the 7 day entrance pass for Pinnacles National Park will increase to $10 for passenger vehicles and motorcycles; bicycle and pedestrian entry will increase to $5.00.

The Pinnacles Annual Pass will also increase on August 1 to $20.00. This is the first fee increase at the park since the 1990s.

Park managers are planning to utilize the fee revenue generated by this increase to provide better customer service in several ways: increased shuttle bus service within the park during busy weekends, improved shuttle bus stops, and improved trip planning information.

Purchase prices for Golden Age and America the Beautiful passes will remain the same. The free Golden Access and America the Beautiful Annual Pass for Active Duty Military personnel will continue to be offered.

Background

The public and other stakeholders were invited to provide feedback on a potential fee increase. The park issued a news release on September 23, 2013, to announce an open comment period from September 23-October 31, extended to November 30, 2013. Interested parties were encouraged to make comments electronically at the National Park Service’s Planning, Environment and Public Comment website or in writing by mail, fax, or hand-delivery. The parks received over 40 comments.

Contact: Superintendent: Karen Beppler-Dorn, 831-389-4486 ext. 233

July 2014 Raptor/Closures Update (07/12/2014)

Greetings everyone! Here is an update on raptor activity at Pinnacles National Park for the past 5 weeks.

The raptor breeding season is winding down, and falcons have been productive in raising and fledging young from cliff cavity nests throughout the park. Prairie falcons (PRFA) successfully fledged 27 young from 7 nests. A peregrine falcon (PEFA) pair successfully fledged 2 young from a nest in the Balconies area for the first time in 50 years, and a second PEFA nest at Hawkins is still active, with an adult pair raising a single nestling. At present the following have been documented: 12 PRFA pairs, and the 2 PEFA territories. These are listed below with current nesting status:

  • Resurrection Wall: PRFA pair, nest confirmed, 2 fledglings
  • Teapot Dome / Tunnel / Egg: PRFA pair, nest confirmed, 5 fledglings
  • Hawkins Peak: PEFA pair, nest confirmed
  • General Balconies: PEFA pair, nest confirmed, 2 fledglings
  • South Balconies: PRFA pair, nest confirmed, 4 fledglings
  • Crowley Towers: PRFA pair, nest confirmed, 5 fledglings
  • Citadel: PRFA pair, non-nesting
  • Little Pinnacles (Yaks): PRFA pair, non-nesting
  • Willow Spring Slide: PRFA pair, nest confirmed, 4 fledglings
  • Drywall Slide: PRFA pair, nest confirmed, 4 fledglings
  • North Chalone Peak: PRFA pair, nest failed
  • NE Section 15: PRFA pair, nest failed
  • South Chalone Peak: PRFA pair, nest confirmed, 3 fledglings
  • Pig Canyon: PRFA pair, nest failed

In general, PRFA productivity for 2014 was consistent with fledging success observed during the 29 years of the Pinnacles raptor monitoring program, with 27 young fledging from 7 nests and 3 additional nests failing, likely due to nest predation. The confirmed PEFA nests are particularly significant, representing the first time in over 50 years that we have had peregrine falcons nesting and producing fledglings on the West Side. Historic park maps from the 1920s and 1930s showed "falcon sanctuaries" or "peregrine areas" in the Balconies and Machete areas, indicating that park managers were aware of the importance of protecting nesting birds of prey even then. This protection of nesting falcons provided strong justifications for the inclusion of Balconies and Machete in the park property as the Pinnacles boundaries expanded early in the 20th century. It is amazing to see that peregrine falcons have finally returned to nest on the West Side on their own!

Please note that climbing and hiking advisories have just been updated as of July 9th. Raptor advisories are still in effect at Hawkins Peak (including Tuff Dome, H & L Dome, and Frothy Flake) while the late season peregrine falcon nest effort remains active. All other climbing and hiking advisories have been lifted for the year.

Climbers in general have been doing a great job of adhering to the advisories. Hikers have been seen occasionally hiking in advisory areas at Hawkins and Scout Peak but disturbance to falcons has not been documented.

Other nesting raptors observed in the park through July include American kestrels, red-shouldered hawks, a Cooper's hawk pair, a long-eared owl pair, and (just outside of the west side entrance of the park) a golden eagle pair. With the exception of prairie and peregrine falcons, most raptor species have been less productive than in previous years, particularly buteo hawks. In most years we have confirmed 5-8 red-tailed hawk nests and 5-6 red-shouldered hawk nests; in 2014 we have confirmed 2 red-shouldered hawk nests and no red-tailed hawk nests, though adult pairs have remained active in historical territories.

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.

A special thanks to Alyson Schmidt, Autumn Sartain, and Megan Gnekow for their efforts assisting with the raptor monitoring program; they definitely helped to confirm raptor activity and provide a broader picture of raptor nesting this year!

In addition, thanks to James Bouknight, Josh Littlejohn, Brent Johnson, Mike Shelley, Peter Urbach, Rose Fielding, Paul Johnson, Paul Marsell, Denise Louie, Joseph Belli, Linda Regan, Lori Frusetta, Dan Ryan, Jennie Jones, Danielle Powell, Arianna Punzalan, and Alacia Welch for raptor observations. I appreciate the support!

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

Summer Speaker Series: Climate and Sustainability (06/30/2014)

A Stormy Night

Day: July 2nd
Time: 5:30 P.M.
Place: Soledad Library

Join Park Ranger Paul Marsell to explore ancient and modern explanations for stunning thunderstorms and other extreme
weather that has aroused our curiosity through the course of
human history.

A Changing Landscape: How Humans Affect the Central Coast

Day: July 12th
Time: 11:00 A.M.
Place: Pinnacles National Park, West Visitor Contact Station

Monica Galligan will explore the amazing complexity of our interactions with the environment and the way we shape it through all our actions.

Summer Speaker Series - John Boessenecker (06/17/2014)

Release Date: June 17, 2014
Contact: Paul Marsell831-389-4486 ext. 262

Summer Speaker Series Continues

PAICINES, CA -The month of June is "The People of California" for this summer's speaker series at Pinnacles National Park. The final speaker in June John Boessenecker, author of "Bandidio: The Life and Times of Tiburcio Vasquez"

  • When: Sat, June 21
  • Time: 11:00am
  • Where: Pinnacles Visitor Contact Station (West Side)

Bandido: The Life and Times of Tiburcio Vasquez

John Boessenecker, author of Bandido: "The Life and Times of TiburcioVasequez" will shed some light on the myths and legends that surround one of the most infamous bandits in California history.

WARNING! Highway 146 does not pass through the park. You will need to enter the park through the city of Soledad, CA.

April 2014 Raptor/Closures Update (04/30/2014)

Greetings everyone! Here is an update on raptor activity at Pinnacles National Park for the past 5 weeks.

Prairie falcons (PRFA) have selected nest sites and are at last incubating eggs. Two peregrine falcon (PEFA) pairs - one that nested last year for the ninth consecutive year at Hawkins and another that occupied the Balconies area for the first time in 50 years - have also chosen cliff cavity nests and are incubating eggs. At present the following have been documented:

  • 12 PRFA pairs
  • 2 PEFA territories

These are listed below with current nesting status:

  • Resurrection Wall: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • Teapot Dome / Tunnel / Egg: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • Hawkins Peak: PEFA pair, nest confirmed
  • General Balconies: PEFA pair, nest confirmed
  • South Balconies: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • Crowley Towers: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • Citadel: PRFA pair, not yet nesting
  • Little Pinnacles (Yaks): PRFA pair, not yet nesting
  • Willow Spring Slide: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • Drywall Slide: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • North Chalone Peak: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • NE Section 15: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • South Chalone Peak: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • Pig Canyon: PRFA pair, nest confirmed

The following territories are currently unoccupied, with no prairie or peregrine falcons observed within them:

  • Scout Peak
  • Pipsqueak Pinnacles
  • Discovery Wall
  • Frog / Hand
  • Piedras Bonitas Cliffs / Gargoyle
  • Tugboat
  • North Balconies
  • Machete Ridge
  • Central High Peaks
  • Goat Rock
  • D. Soto Canyon
  • Guard Rock
  • Rocks West of Chalone Housing
  • Mating Rocks
  • North Wilderness Rock
  • South Wilderness Rock
  • Marion Canyon

In general, PRFA activity this season seems to be proceeding normally in regards to annual occupancy and courtship schedules. Although nest sites have not been confirmed for PRFA pairs at Little Pinnacles (Yaks) and Citadel, the falcons at these territories may attempt late season nest efforts. The confirmed PEFA nests are particularly significant, representing the first time in over 50 years that we have had peregrine falcons nesting on the West Side. Historic park maps from the 1920s and 1930s showed "falcon sanctuaries" or "peregrine areas" in the Balconies and Machete areas, indicating that park managers were aware of the importance of protecting nesting birds of prey even then. This protection of nesting falcons provided strong justifications for the inclusion of Balconies and Machete in the park property as the Pinnacles boundaries expanded early in the 20th century. It is amazing to see that peregrine falcons have finally returned to nest on the West Side on their own!

Please note that climbing and hiking advisories are in effect and have just been updated as of April 25th. Raptor advisory signs have been placed at Hawkins, Balconies, and Little Pinnacles, to protect these sensitive species from the pressures of off-trail hiking and climbing during the upcoming nesting season. Updated raptor advisory brochures / handouts will be available at the east side Pinnacles Visitor Center and the west side Visitor Contact Station. If interpretive staff and law enforcement rangers can see that they get distributed appropriately, it would be greatly appreciated!

Climbers in general have been doing a great job of adhering to the advisories. Hikers have been seen occasionally hiking in advisory areas at Hawkins and Scout Peak but disturbance to falcons has not been documented. Any assistance park staff can provide in diverting visitors from advisory areas, and reporting incidents of climbers and hikers in advisory areas to law enforcement staff, is highly appreciated!

Golden eagles have also been seen regularly in and near the park over the past 5 weeks, with a pair actively courting at North Chalone Peak, but no nesting activity has been confirmed yet in the park. A golden eagle pair has been confirmed nesting just outside of the park, along Highway 146 leading into the West Side, likely incubating eggs or young nestlings.

Other nesting raptors observed in the park through April include:

  • American kestrels
  • red-shouldered hawks
  • a long-eared owl pair.

Notably, a few red-shouldered hawk pairs and all confirmed red-tailed hawk pairs at Pinnacles appear to still be courting rather than nesting... Usually these larger hawk species are well into nesting efforts by this point in the year. Cooper's and sharp-shinned hawks are active throughout the park along riparian corridors. Owls have been unusually quiet so far this season but will hopefully pick up as the breeding season proceeds.

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.

Also note that Alyson Schmidt is assisting with raptor monitoring efforts this season, as are two volunteers: Autumn Sartain and Megan Gnekow. If you see them scanning for raptor activity, feel free to report any raptor observations to them as well!

In particular, thanks to James Bouknight, Josh Littlejohn, Brent Johnson, Sierra Willoughby, Paul Johnson, Joseph Belli, Linda Regan, Dan Ryan, Jennie Jones, Danielle Powell, Arianna Punzalan, and Alacia Welch for raptor observations. I appreciate the support!

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

FREE Park Admission (04/18/2014)

FREE! Yes, you heard it right.

As part of National Park Week, this weekend (April 19th & 20th) you can get into Pinnacles National Park for FREE!

So throw the pack in the car, grab your belayer and hot-foot it down to Pinnacles.

Climb ON!

Junior Ranger Day (04/17/2014)

When: Saturday April 26th

Don't Miss This Great Event. The days activities include:

Birds of Pinnacles

11:00am - Explore the wonderful habitat of hawks, jays, vultures and other birds of Pinnacles with volunteer ranger Sandra.

45 Minutes; Meet at the Pinnacles Visitor Center (East Entrance of the Park)

Sights, Sounds and Other Senses of Pinnacles

3:00pm - Join Volunteer ranger Maggie and use your senses and skills of observation to investigate what makes Pinnacles a special place for plants, animals and people to live.

45 Minutes, Meet at the Pinnacles Visitor Center (East Entrance of the Park)

Notes About Getting Here

Highway 146 on the east and west side of Pinnacles National Park do not connect—there is no direct route through the park. To attend these special programs make sure you enter the park from the east side, near Hollister, CA.Park entrance fee applies.

2104 Raptor / Closures Update (03/15/2014)

Greetings everyone! Here is an update on raptor activity at Pinnacles National Park for the past 5 weeks.

Prairie falcons (PRFA) are continuing to establish territories, engage in courtship displays, and are inspecting potential nest sites for use this season. Two peregrine falcon (PEFA) pairs – one that nested last year for the ninth consecutive year at Hawkins and another that occupied the Balconies area for the first time in 50 years – are also active, calling to each other, engaging in courtship displays, and defending the territories by chasing other birds (condors, hawks, and ravens) out of the areas. The PEFA pair at Balconies is also inspecting possible sites on Machete but has not yet settled on a cavity nest for the season. At present the following have been documented: 9 PRFA pairs, 3 more territories with single prairie falcons, and the 2 PEFA territories. These are listed below:

  • Goat Rock / Resurrection Wall: PRFA pair
  • Teapot Dome / Tunnel / Egg: PRFA pair
  • Hawkins Peak / Central High Peaks: PEFA pair
  • North Balconies / General Balconies / Machete: PEFA pair
  • South Balconies: PRFA pair
  • Crowley Towers: PRFA pair
  • Citadel: PRFA pair
  • Little Pinnacles (Yaks): Single PRFA, pair likely
  • Willow Spring Slide: PRFA pair
  • North Chalone Peak: PRFA pair
  • NE Section 15: Single PRFA, pair likely
  • South Chalone Peak: PRFA pair
  • Pig Canyon: PRFA pair
  • Piedras Bonitas / Gargoyle / Prescribed Burn Cliffs: Single PRFA, pair possible

The following territories are currently unoccupied, with no prairie or peregrine falcons observed within them:

  • Scout Peak
  • Discovery Wall
  • Frog / Hand
  • Tugboat
  • D. Soto Canyon
  • Guard Rock
  • Rocks West of Chalone Housing
  • Mating Rocks
  • North Wilderness Rock
  • South Wilderness Rock

Marion Canyon have not yet been checked for raptor territorial status.

In general, PRFA activity this season seems to be proceeding normally in regards to annual occupancy and courtship schedules. Some of the unoccupied territories listed above may have active falcon pairs that arrive later in the season by late March or April. The PRFA pair at South Balconies and the PEFA pair at General Balconies and Machete have been observed diving at each other in spectacular aerial displays, but appear to be dividing up the cliff faces at Balconies in preparation for nesting this season. The PEFA pir at Balconies is also occupying the Machete territory, and advisories are in effect to include the upper southwest face of Machete as a partial advisory area for the season.

Please note that climbing and hiking advisories are in effect as of January 21st. Raptor advisory signs have been placed at Hawkins, Scout, Balconies, and Little Pinnacles, to protect these sensitive species from the pressures of off-trail hiking and climbing during the upcoming nesting season. Updated raptor advisory brochures / handouts are available at the east side Pinnacles Visitor Center and the west side Visitor Contact Station.

Climbing Closures

One group of climbers was observed at Balconies in the advisory area, and one advisory sign next to the trail at Balconies was severely vandalized last month. Otherwise climbers in general have been doing a great job of adhering to the advisories. Hikers have been seen occasionally hiking in advisory areas at Hawkins and Scout Peak but disturbance to falcons has not been documented. Any assistance park staff can provide in diverting visitors from advisory areas, and reporting incidents of climbers and hikers in advisory areas to law enforcement staff, is highly appreciated!

Golden eagles have also been seen regularly in and near the park over the past 5 weeks, with a pair actively courting at North Chalone Peak. No nesting activity has been confirmed yet.

Other raptors observed in the park in February and March include American kestrels, and red-shouldered hawks have been seen in the Pinnacles Campground, near the Bacon barn, in McCabe Canyon, and in the South Wilderness, vocalizing and preparing stick nests for the season. Cooper’s and sharp-shinned hawks are active throughout the park along riparian corridors. Owls have been unusually quiet so far this season but will hopefully pick up as the breeding season proceeds.

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.

Also note that Alyson Schmidt is assisting with raptor monitoring efforts this season, as are two volunteers: Autumn Sartain and Megan Gnekow. If you see them scanning for raptor activity, feel free to report any raptor observations to them as well!

In particular, thanks to James Bouknigh, Robert Britton, Josh Littlejohn, Brent Johnson, Sierra Willoughby, Daniel George, Paul Johnson, Joseph Belli, Linda Regan, Dan Ryan, Jennie Jones, Danielle Powell, Arianna Punzalan, and Alacia Welch for raptor observations. I appreciate the support!

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

Help The Park Monitor Condors (02/24/2014)

Become a Pinnacles National Park Condor Monitoring Assistant

Orientation: Saturday, March 15
Join us for a fun-filled day at the orientation led by National Park Service Wildlife Biologists.
(Orientation required to join monitoring team.)

We are looking for long-term volunteers that can commit to a minimum of 2 survey days per month on Weekends. The primary duties of the volunteer will be observing and recording condor behavior as well as communicating with park visitors. (9 month commitment required)

Volunteers will need to be able to hike up to 5 miles on steep and rugged terrain carrying 40+ lbs of equipment, have a tolerance for summer temperatures that exceed 100 degrees, and possess a sense of humor and a great deal of patience.

For more information see our Web site

Space is limited and RSVP is required by March 10th, please contact Alacia Welch or Veronica Johnson at 831-389-4486 x242

First Raptor Report of 2014 (01/22/2014)

For those who don't know me, my name is Gavin Emmons, and I have returned for a 12th season as the raptor biologist at Pinnacles National Park. I just wanted to send everyone an update as to the status of raptors for the past 3 weeks.

Prairie falcons (PRFA) have returned to Pinnacles and are establishing territories and engaging in courtship displays. Two peregrine falcon (PEFA) pairs – one that nested last year for the ninth consecutive year at Hawkins and another that occupied the Balconies and Crowley Towers areas for the first time in 50 years –wintered at the park. The peregrine falcon pairs have both been observed in the Hawkins and Balconies areas respectively, calling to each other, engaging in courtship displays, and defending the territories by chasing other birds (condors, hawks, and ravens) out of the areas. The first prairie falcons were confirmed at Resurrection Wall and Egg Rock by the beginning of 2014. At present the following have been documented: 1 territory with a PRFA pair, 8 more territories with single prairie falcons, and the 2 PEFA territories. These are listed below:

  • Goat Rock / Resurrection Wall: Single PRFA, pair likely
  • Teapot Dome / Tunnel / Egg: Single PRFA, pair likely
  • Hawkins Peak: PEFA pair
  • North Balconies: PEFA pair
  • Little Pinnacles (Yaks): Single PRFA, pair likely
  • Machete / Citadel: Single PRFA, pair likely
  • Willow Spring Slide: PRFA pair
  • North Chalone Peak: Single PRFA, pair likely
  • NE Section 15: Single PRFA, pair likely
  • Pig Canyon: Single PRFA, pair likely
  • Piedras Bonitas / Gargoyle / Prescribed Burn Cliffs: Single PRFA, pair possible
  • Pipsqueak Pinnacles: Single PRFA, pair possible

The following territories are currently unoccupied, but remain CLOSED:

  • Crowley Towers
  • South Balconies
  • North Balconies
  • Scout Peak
  • Discovery Wall
  • Frog / Hand
  • Tugboat
  • D. Soto Canyon
  • Guard Rock
  • Rocks West of Chalone Housing
  • Mating Rocks / Tugboat
  • North Wilderness Rock

South Wilderness Rock, South Chalone Peak, and Marion Canyon have not yet been checked for raptor territorial status.

In general, PRFA activity this season seems to be proceeding normally in regards to annual occupancy and courtship schedules. Some of the unoccupied territories listed above may have active falcon pairs that arrive later in the season by February or March. A territorial PRFA again occupying the Machete territory, and advisories are in effect to include the upper southwest face of Machete as a partial advisory area for the season.

Please note that climbing and hiking advisories are in effect as of January 21st. Raptor advisory signs have been placed at Hawkins, Scout, Balconies, and Little Pinnacles, to protect these sensitive species from the pressures of off-trail hiking and climbing during the upcoming nesting season. Updated raptor advisory brochures / handouts are available at the east side Pinnacles Visitor Center and the west side Visitor Contact Station. Any assistance park staff can provide in diverting visitors from advisory areas, and reporting incidents of climbers and hikers in advisory areas to law enforcement staff, is highly appreciated!

Golden eagles have also been seen regularly in and near the park over the past 3 weeks. No occupancy or nesting activity has been confirmed yet.

Other raptors observed in the park in January include American kestrels, and red-shouldered hawks have been seen in the Pinnacles Campground, near the Bacon barn, in McCabe Canyon, and in the South Wilderness, perching in valley oaks and vocalizing. Cooper’s and sharp-shinned hawks are active throughout the park along riparian corridors. Owls have been unusually quiet so far this season but will likely pick up as the breeding season proceeds.

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.

In particular, thanks to Paul Johnson, Joseph Belli, Linda Regan, Dan Ryan, Nora Quinn, Jennie Jones, Danielle Powell, Arianna Punzalan, and Alacia Welch for raptor observations. I appreciate the support!

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

Pinnacles Partnership Fundraising Drive (12/05/2013)

For distribution between November 30 and December 13, 2013
Contact: Rochelle Fischer, Executive Director
831-637-4879 or 831-524-2928
Rochelle@pinnaclespartnership.org

Pinnacles Partnership Fundraising Drive

Pinnacles Partnership, a 501c3 non-profit Friends Group supporting Pinnacles National Park, announces its annual fundraising drive. Donations through the Birdies for Charity program made between now and February 28 will be increased with a 20% match from the Monterey Peninsula Foundation. Donate during the month of December to help Pinnacles Partnership win a $1,000 bonus from the Monterey Peninsula Foundation. For more information and a link to Birdies for Charity, visit our website at www.PinnaclesPartnership.org.

After a quiet period, Pinnacles Partnership is again ready to support programs and projects at Pinnacles National Park. Funds raised during this fundraising drive will support education, resource stewardship, and enhanced visitor experiences at Pinnacles National Park. Some of the programs we currently fund include Camp Pinnacles for elementary school children, enhancements to the Condor Recovery Program, supplies for the Sister School and Sister Park programs, youth employment programs, events to help eradicate non-native plants, and the restoration of the Bear Valley School historic structure.

Pinnacles Partnership is a collaborative effort between area citizens and National Park Service staff. Birdies for Charity is a program coordinated by Monterey Peninsula Foundation to assist non-profits in raising money through the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Government Shutdown Closes Park (10/02/2013)

Due to the budget impass in Congress, and the resulting government shutdown, Pinnacles and all other National Parks are closed.

For more information, please visit the Department of the Interior

2013 Trail Maintenance Celebration (09/28/2013)

JOIN THE CELEBRATION!

3 days of climbing, stories, good food and mostly hard work!

There will be:

  • FREE t-shirts*
  • FREE camping*
  • Raffle
  • give-a-ways
  • contests
  • BBQ* (Saturday night)
and TONS more!

* requires RSVP! See below for RSVP details.

So, What's The Deal?

Mountain Tools, Pinnacles National Park, the Access Fund and the American Alpine Club are proudly co-sponsoring this first of a series of Trail Maintenance Days at the Park.

You are invited to pitch in on any one or more of the three days and nights of this unprecedented event. You will be helping to create, repair and restore trails in select areas on the East Side of the park.

Difficulty of the work will range from simple Trash Collection to Advanced Trail Work (training on site), so "no worries"! Just bring yourself, some tools* and a desire to "give back".

* check the "What You Should Bring" section below.

Schedule of Events

  • Thursday
    Overnight Camping is available (RSVP Required)

  • Friday
    Check-In/Registration: 8 to 10 AM
    Trail Work: 9AM to 3PM
    Evening Activities: Panel Discussion w/ Q&A, trivia contest

  • Saturday
    Check-In/Registration: 8 to 10 AM
    Trail Work: 9AM to 3PM
    Evening Activities: BBQ (BYOPU - Bring Your Own Plate and Utensils), raffle, entertainment, give-a-ways and more

  • Sunday
    Trail Work: 9AM to 12PM.

Shuttles will take volunteers from the camp grounds to the staging areas all three days.

What You Should Bring

The Park has a lot of tools, but limited gloves, helmets, etc., so it is best to bring your own:

  • gloves
  • helmet
  • eye protection
  • heavy footwear (boots are best)
  • water bottle
  • sun screen

If you are camping bring the standard camping equipment. Nights can get cold, so bring layers and don't forget the all important chair for sitting around the fire.

RSVP Is Required!

RSVP today for your FREE t-shirt, camp site and BBQ. To RSVP Email Mountain Tools by October 18th!

Don't forget to include:

  • Full Name
  • Phone
  • Days & Nights you will attend
  • Number of people in your group
  • Meal preference: beef, chicken or veggie (for all in your group)
  • T-shirt size (for all in your party)

Protect the Pinnacles From Extreme Oil (09/07/2013)

If you've been waiting for the right time to speak out against dangerous fossil fuel projects like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and other climate-killing development, your moment has arrived.

On Sept. 21 join the Center for Biological Diversity, along with 350.org, San Benito Rising and dozens of other groups, at a "Draw the Line" event at Pinnacles National Park.

In California, fracking, acidization and cyclic steaming are common, extreme methods of oil extraction that target fossil fuels that should be left in the ground. Plans are now moving forward for 15 new oil wells less than 10 miles south of Pinnacles National Park -- which is home to endangered California condors. This proposal utilizes a particularly dangerous extraction technique called cyclic steam injection.

It's time to take action: Please join us Saturday, Sept. 21 and draw the line on risky oil development around California's newest national park.

Event details below:

What: Draw the Line Rally
Where: Pinnacles National Park, 5000 California 146, Paicines
When: Saturday, Sept. 21 starting at 9:30 a.m.

Go here for more information

GMP (General Management Plan) Approved! (07/30/2013)

Hallelujah!

Sometimes it seemed like this day would never come, but here it is. The GMP has been approved.

The following is the entire text of the notice, as posted by the Superintendent on the NPS Web site:

Pinnacles National Monument General Management Plan and Environmental Assessment

The National Park Service (NPS) is pleased to announce the completion of the Pinnacles National Park General Management Plan (GMP). The Pacific West Regional Director approved the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the GMP on June 26, 2013. This FONSI documents the decision of the NPS to adopt Alternative D: Link People and Resources, the preferred alternative, as presented in the Draft General Management Plan and Environmental Assessment (DGMP/EA), and the determination that no significant impacts on the quality of the human environment nor impairment of park values are associated with that decision. The FONSI and attachments can be found in the document list section.

The Selected Alternative: Link People and Resources

This selected alternative celebrates Pinnacles within its regional context in the Gabilan Mountains ecoregion, engaging a broad range of visitors in the enjoyment, understanding, and stewardship of natural and cultural resources of the area. Pinnacles NP will focus on ways to connect diverse audiences and resources, to acknowledge the interrelationship between natural and cultural values, and to protect, preserve, and restore ecological communities and processes.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the planning process. The NPS efforts were enlightened and enhanced by the comments and insights of the public at large and key stakeholder organizations. This document will provide thoughtful guidance to park leadership as they preserve and protect the resources un-impaired and provide for visitor enjoyment of Pinnacles National Park into the future.

Karen Beppler-Dorn
Superintendent

Contact Information
Karen Beppler-Dorn:
(831) 389-4486 x 233
Jean Boscacci, Project Manager:
(415) 623-2312

August - Summer Speaker Series (07/30/2013)

Join us for the second annual summer speaker series at Pinnacles National Park!

The month of August focuses on Climate Change and Sustainability.

Climate Change in the National Parks
August 3rd, 2:00pm - Soledad Library
Join Ranger Matt to look at the impacts climate change is having on your
National Parks and what we all can do about it.

A Night Under the Stars
August 10th, 8:30-10:30pm - Pinnacles National Park, west side
Join Pinnacles Partnership Board Member David Buamgartner and others to
look at the planets and stars! Scopes provided.

A Changing Ocean
August 17th, 2:00pm - Pinnacles National Park, west side
Elliot Hazen, working with UC Santa Cruz and partnered with the Pacific
Grove NOAA lab, will share the effects of climate change on the area's ocean
and steps we can take to keep it healthy.

A Green Pinnacles
August 24th, 2:00pm - Pinnacles National Park, west side
Candice Wong from rrm Design will show us how Pinnacles is 'going green' and
share ideas on how you can make your own home more sustainable.

The final three speakers will be presenting at the Visitor Contact Station on the west side (Soledad) of the park at
2:00pm. Park entrance fee applies.

Highway 146 on the east and west side of Pinnacles National Park do not connect-there is no direct route
through the park. To attend these special programs make sure you enter the park from the west side, near Soledad.

Climbing Closures & Raptor Update (07/05/2013)

Hello Everyone -

Here is an update as to the status of raptors at Pinnacles for the past month.

The raptor nesting season is finally wrapping up, and it has been a productive year for prairie falcons (PRFA). In fact, the 2013 breeding season has been the most productive on record for PRFA, with 10 nests successfully fledging 43 young. The peregrine falcon (PEFA) pair at Hawkins also succeeded in fledging 3 young. An 11th PRFA nest attempt - late in the season - appeared ready to fledge 3 more young, but recently failed (possibly due to predation or the intense heat we have been experiencing this past week). A 12th PRFA pair, and a 2nd PEFA pair, occupied territories this year but were not confirmed nesting. Falcon breeding information is listed below:

  • Resurrection Wall: PRFA nest, fledged 5 young
  • Egg: PRFA nest, fledged 5 young
  • South Balcones: PRFA nest, fledged 3 young
  • Crowley Towers: PRFA nest, fledged 4 young
  • Citadel: PRFA nest, fledged 4 young
  • Pig Canyon: PRFA nest, fledged 3 young
  • Drywall: PRFA nest, fledged 4 young
  • Willow Spring Slide: PRFA nest, fledged 5 young
  • North Chalone Peak: PRFA nest, fledged 5 young
  • NE Section 15: PRFA nest, fledged 5 young
  • South Chalone Peak: PRFA pair, no nesting confirmed
  • Little Pinnacles / Yaks Wall: PRFA nest, failed
  • Hawkins Peak: PEFA nest, fledged 3 young
  • Crowley Towers / North Balconies: PEFA pair, no nesting confirmed

In general, falcon breeding activity was unusually productive this season. Although we have no direct evidence explaining this high productivity, we have noticed very limited great-horned owl activity this year, both in regards to occupancy and nesting at Pinnacles. Great horned-owls are one of the main nest predators of PRFA nests. Low owl numbers this year could help to explain the high success rate of PRFA nests in 2013.

Please note that climbing and hiking advisories are no longer in effect and all advisories have been lifted as of this week. We will be removing remaining advisory signs and updating bulletin board posters this week to reflect these changes. Thank you to all staff and visitors for respecting the advisories and contributing to raptor nest successes this year. Your ongoing efforts are sincerely appreciated!

Other breeding raptors observed in the park through June and early July include golden eagles (GOEA), red-tailed hawks (RTHA), and red-shouldered hawks (RSHA) at the following areas:

  • North Chalone Peak: GOEA nest
  • Butterfield Canyon: RTHA nest
  • Rose Canyon: RTHA nest
  • Western Front: RTHA nest
  • Lower Condor Gulch: RTHA nest
  • Frog/Hand: RTHA nest
  • Grassy Canyon: RTHA nest
  • Pinnacles Campground: 2 RSHA nests
  • Bench Trail / Fire Road junction: RSHA nest
  • McCabe Canyon: RSHA nest

4 Cooper’s hawk nests and 1 sharp-shinned hawk nest have been documented in 2013 along riparian corridors. American kestrels have been active throughout the park, and 10 nests were confirmed this year. Two white-tailed kite pairs built stick constructs this year in the bottomlands but did not successfully nest.

Thank you to all the staff and visitors that 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 as the season wraps up, I would greatly appreciate it if you please fill out a wildlife observation card, and deposit it in my box in the RRM Office, or give it to me or Nate Melling in person.

In particular, thanks to the Resources weed crew:

  • Carlo Arreglo
  • Autumn Young
  • Michelle Armijo
  • Jennie Jones
  • Danielle Powell
  • Paul Johnson
  • Richard Neihardt
  • Joseph Belli
  • Dan Ryan
  • Linda Regan
  • Rachel Wolstenholme
  • Nate Melling
  • and Alacia Welch

for raptor observations. I appreciate the support!

In addition to a general "thank you" to staff and visitors over the course of the 2013 season, I also wanted to thank Crystal Barnes (the raptor biologist at Yosemite) and John Bryan (a wildlife veterinarian for the NPS overall) for their enthusiasm and support while they were here. Their assistance with raptor monitoring and prairie falcon genetics research was much appreciated!

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

Thanks!

2013 Summer Speaker Series (06/30/2013)

Join us for the second annual summer speaker series at Pinnacles National Park! The series is held at the Soledad library the first Saturday of each month and the Visitor Contact Station in the park for the second and third. The Speaker Series will continue through August.

The month of July focuses on Park Natural Resources.

Pinnacles Alien Invasion

when: July 6th, 2013 (2:00 PM)
where: Soledad Library

Join Ranger Matt to discover the alien life that has encroached on Pinnacles National Park. Find out what the park has done to stop their spread and what you can do to help.

Wildflowers: Up Close and Personal

when: July 13th, 2013 (2:00 PM)
where: West Side (Soledad) Visitor Center

With his stunning macro photography, David Guvernick, co-author of Wildflowers of Monterey County, will show us Pinnacles’ breathtaking wildflowers through a new and unexpected perspective.

On the Edge: Prairie Falcons of Pinnacles

when: July 20th, 2013 (2:00 PM)
where: West Side (Soledad) Visitor Center

Pinnacles Raptor Biologist, Gavin Emmons, will help us explore the fascinating lives of Pinnacles' Prairie Falcons. We’ll learn what it takes to survive on the edge and what part we play in the falcon’s continued success.

The final two speakers will be presenting at the Visitor Contact Station on the west side (Soledad) of the park at 2:00pm. Park entrance fee applies.

Highway 146 on the east and west side of Pinnacles National Park do not connect—there is no direct route through the park. To attend these special programs make sure you enter the park from the west side, near Soledad, CA.

Celebrate International Migratory Bird Day (05/01/2013)

Pinnacles National Park Celebrates International Migratory Bird Day

East Side:

  • 9:00 AM:
    Birding Walk with Ranger Erv (1 hour)
    Meet at Bear Gulch Nature Center
  • 10:45 AM:
    Bird Talk with Ranger Erv (20 Minutes)
    Meet at Bear Gulch Nature Center
  • 2:00 PM:
    Bird Talk with Ranger Erv (20 Minutes)
    Meet at Bear Gulch Nature Center
    Condors of Pinnacles Talk with Ranger Sandra (20 Minutes)
    Meet at Pinnacles Visitor Center
  • 8:30 PM:
    Birds and bird habitats of Pinnacles slide presentation with Ranger Sandra (45 Minutes)
    Meet at Pinnacles Campground Amphitheater

West Side:

  • 9:00-4:30:
    Come join the fun with self-guided family-friendly activities
    Meet at Chaparral Visitor Contact Station
  • 9:00 AM:
    Birding Walk (1 hour)
    Meet at Chaparral Picnic and Parking Area
  • 10:45 AM:
    Bird Talk with Ranger Autumn (20 Minutes)
    Meet at Chaparral Visitor Contact Station
  • 2:00 PM:
    Bird Talk with Ranger Autumn (20 Minutes)
    Meet at Chaparral Visitor Contact Station

For more information contact:

Park Opens Select Formations to Climbing Early (04/23/2013)

In what is yet another stellar example of the success of the ongoing, voluntary, raptor closures system in place at the Pinnacles, the Park has removed several popular climbing formation from the closures list months early.

Red TailCareful monitoring of raptor activity has made it possible to selectively remove several formations from the closures list without adversely effecting raptor mating behaviors. This is huge for climbers as several of the areas subject to closures are favored destinations - especially during spring when conditions are best.

FOP wishes to thank Gavin and the rest of those people involved in coordinating the voluntary closures program for their efforts and sensitivity to the climbing community.

Among the newly opened areas is the majority of the Balconies on the West Side. The south end of the formation remains closed and the Park asks that ALL climbers either rappel directly from their route or use the standard Northern rappel from the top of Hook and Drill. Avoid the southern climbs and any roof formations.

For complete closure details see the closure listing on this site or check the Park Web site AND always remember to check the Park's climbing notice boards before you hike in to any destination.

Thanks again to Gavin for all his work.


March/April Raptor Update (04/13/2013)

Hello Everyone -

Here is an update as to the status of raptors at Pinnacles for the past month.

Prairie falcons (PRFA) are finally choosing nest sites and incubating eggs. The peregrine falcon (PEFA) pair at Hawkins is also incubating eggs, and a 2nd PEFA pair has been newly documented at Crowley, likely responsible for abandonment of that territory by the PRFA pair previosuly there. At present the following have been documented: 8 nesting PRFA pairs, 3 more PRFA territories with nesting unconfirmed, a PEFA nesting pair, and a PEFA territorial pair. These are listed below:

  • Resurrection Wall: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • Egg: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • South Balcones: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • Citadel: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • Pig Canyon: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • Drywall: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • Willow Spring Slide: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • North Chalone Peak: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • NE Section 15: PRFA pair
  • South Chalone Peak: PRFA pair
  • Little Pinnacles: PRFA pair
  • Hawkins Peak: PEFA pair, nest confirmed
  • Crowley Towers / North Balconies: PEFA pair

The following territories are currently unoccupied, with no falcons observed within them:

  • Scout Peak
  • Goat Rock
  • Central High Peaks
  • Canyon North of Willow Spring
  • Discovery Wall
  • Pipsqueak Pinnacles
  • Frog/Hand
  • Prescribed Burn Cliffs / Gargoyle / Neglected Valley
  • Machete Ridge
  • Guard Rock
  • Mating Rocks / Tugboat
  • Rocks West of Chalone Housing
  • North Wilderness Rock
  • South Wilderness Rock
  • Marion Canyon / Narrows

REMEMBER! This does NOT mean these areas are open for climbing. Only that they are currently unoccupied.

In general, falcon activity this season seems to be proceeding on schedule in regards to annual nesting schedules. The most unusual observations have been of a PEFA pair at Crowley Towers, and PRFA pairs at both North Chalone Peak and NE Section 15 (the area just north of the fire tower and peak summit). The PEFA pair at Crowley is the first documented occupying a territory on the west side of the park in over 50 years, and likely pushed out the territorial PRFA pair that was preparing to nest in the area earlier in the season. The PRFA at North Chalone Peak represent the first time that 2 territorial pairs have ever been confirmed in the area.

Please note that climbing and hiking advisories are in effect and will likely be updated within the next week, now that PRFA and PEFA are settled into territories and nesting. Advisory signs have been placed at Hawkins, Scout, Balconies, and Little Pinnacles, to protect these sensitive species from the pressures of hiking and climbing during the nesting season. Any assistance park staff can provide in diverting visitors from advisory areas, and reporting incidents of climbers and hikers in advisory areas to law enforcement staff, is highly appreciated!

Other raptors observed in the park in March and early April are also beginning to nest and occupy territories. Nests have been confirmed for golden eagles (GOEA), red-tailed hawks (RTHA), and red-shouldered hawks (RSHA) at the following areas:

  • North Chalone Peak: GOEA nest
  • Butterfield Canyon: RTHA nest
  • Rose Canyon: RTHA nest
  • Western Front: RTHA nest
  • Lower Condor Gulch: RTHA nest
  • Pinnacles Campground: 2 RSHA nests
  • Bench Trail / Fire Road junction: RSHA nest
  • McCabe Canyon: RSHA nest

Cooper’s and sharp-shinned hawks are active throughout the park along riparian corridors. American kestrels are active throughout the park and beginning to select nesting sites. A white-tailed kite pair may be beginning nest efforts east of the Bacon barn. A long-eared owl nest and a RSHA nest are also active in the Regan Ranch Canyon... Please talk with Linda Regan first if you are interested in walking on her property!

Thank you to all the staff that 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, or give it to me or Nate Melling in person.

In particular, thanks to the Trails crew, Resources weed crew, Scott Scherbinski, Autumn Young, Jennie Jones, Brent Johnson, Paul Johnson, Richard Neihardt, Joseph Belli, Dan Ryan, Joseph Webb, Linda Regan, and Alacia Welch for raptor observations. I appreciate the support!

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

Raptor Monitoring Update for February 2013 (03/12/2013)

Prairie falcons (PRFA) have returned to Pinnacles and are occupying territories, engaging in courtship displays, and inspecting cliff cavities for use as nest sites. The peregrine falcon (PEFA) pair at Hawkins is also actively defending the area and inspecting cliff cavity sites.

At present the following have been documented: 8 territories with PRFA pairs, 3 more territories with a single PRFA, and 1 territory with 1 PEFA. These are listed below:

  • Goat Rock / Resurrection Wall: PRFA pairEgg / Chaos Crag / Tunnel: PRFA pair
  • Hawkins Peak: PEFA pair
  • Crowley Towers: PRFA pair
  • South Balconies: PRFA pair
  • Drywall: PRFA pair
  • Pig Canyon: PRFA pair
  • North Chalone Peak: PRFA pair
  • South Chalone Peak: PRFA pair
  • Willow Spring Slide: Single PRFA, pair likely
  • North of Little Pinnacles (Yaks): Single PRFA, pair possible
  • Machete Ridge: Single PRFA, pair possible

The following territories are currently unoccupied, with no falcons observed within them:

  • Scout Peak
  • Central High Peaks
  • Canyon North of Willow Spring
  • Discovery Wall
  • Frog / Hand
  • Pipsqueak Pinnacles
  • Prescribed Burn Cliffs / Gargoyle Area
  • Citadel
  • D. Soto Canyon
  • Guard Rock
  • Rocks West of Chalone Housing
  • Mating Rocks / Tugboat
  • North Wilderness Rock
  • South Wilderness Rock
  • Marion Canyon

This does NOT mean that the areas are open for climbing, just that there is currently no raptor occupation. Check closures for the current climbing status.

In general, PRFA activity this season seems to be proceeding on schedule in regards to annual occupancy and courtship schedules. Some of the unoccupied territories listed above will likely have active falcon pairs that arrive later in the season by March or early April. Advisories are in effect to include the upper southwest face of Machete as a partial advisory area for the season. Advisories may be updated later in the spring if PRFA pair occupancy at Discovery Wall is confirmed and nesting is attempted.

Please note that climbing and hiking advisories went into effect as of January 22nd. Advisory signs have been placed at Hawkins, Scout, Balconies, and Little Pinnacles, to protect these sensitive species from the pressures of hiking and climbing during the upcoming nesting season. Any assistance park staff can provide in diverting visitors from advisory areas, and reporting incidents of climbers and hikers in advisory areas to law enforcement staff, is highly appreciated!

Golden eagles have also been seen regularly in and near the park over the past 4 weeks, with pairs confirmed at North Chalone Peak, the south end of South Wilderness Trail, and outside of the west side of the park at the Eucalyptus Grove.

Other raptors observed in the park in February include:

  • American kestrels
  • red-tailed hawks
  • red-shouldered hawks

and have been seen in the Pinnacles Campground, near the Bacon barn, in McCabe Canyon, and in the South Wilderness, perching in valley oaks and sycamores and vocalizing. Cooper’s and sharp-shinned hawks are active throughout the park along riparian corridors. Owl species have been somewhat quiet in terms of early season vocalizations, but great-horned owls, western screech-owls, northern saw-whet owls, and barn owls have been active along riparian corridors, in the Pinnacles Campground, in housing areas, and in the bottomlands.

Thank you to all the staff that 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. For those that don’t know, Nate Melling has returned for a second year to assist with raptor monitoring efforts after an excellent job broadening the list of documented nests last year. 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, or give it to me or Nate in person.

In particular, thanks to Jennie Jones, Arianna Punzalan, Paul Johnson, Joseph Belli, Dan Ryan, Joseph Webb, Linda Regan, and Alacia Welch for raptor observations. I appreciate the support!

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
Pinnacles National Park
5000 Highway 146
Paicines, CA 95043
Office: 831-389-4486 x276

Amah Mutsun Tribal Band receives the Hartzog Award (02/28/2013)

The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band from Pinnacles National Park received the Hartzog Group Volunteer Service Award. Tribal volunteers collaborated with the park and the University of California at Santa Cruz and Berkeley to conduct two research projects that took an innovative approach to habitat restoration by integrating traditional Native American land management practices with contemporary techniques to restore and protect the natural and cultural processes of a unique California grassland system. As part of their studies, a traditional burn was reintroduced to the Pinnacles landscape with Tribal elders making the first ignition.

Tribal volunteerism and involvement is also enriching interpretive stories and programs, understanding of the park natural and cultural resources, and strategic planning. The park hosted its first archaeological field school in 2011 with Amah Mutsun tribal volunteers working side by side with University of California Berkeley archaeologists and students to conduct detailed archaeological surveys. Tribal participation fostered a greater learning opportunity for the students and park staff as they relayed cultural practices and philosophies relevant to the past and present through dance, song, and storytelling.

America’s 59th National Park – Pinnacles National Park (02/06/2013)

America's 59th National Park - Pinnacles National Park

On January 10, 2013, President Obama signed H.R. 3641, sponsored by Rep. Sam Farr and Sen. Barbara Boxer, redesignating Pinnacles National Monument in California as Pinnacles National Park.

Join us to celebrate our nation's 59th National Park. Come and enjoy the park before the reception and ceremony, there will be a walking tour of the Ben Bacon Ranch at 1:30, fun, informational tents will have items to discover the significance of Pinnacles National Park and visit with park biologists looking for wildlife with spotting scopes at 2:00pm. There will be no park entrance fee for the day.

When: Monday, February 11, 2013
Time: 2:45pm (PST)*
Where: Pinnacles National Park Visitor Center (East Entrance) via Hwy 25

* 2:45pm (PST) - Check-In & Reception, with light refreshments
* 3:45pm (PST) - Ceremony, with Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Congressman Sam Farr and others.

Directions and map available on the Park Web site or on the FOP site

We look forward to your participation and ask that you RSVP by 5:00pm (PST) Thursday, February 7, 2013 to dawn_roh@nps.gov or (831)389-4486 ext 228.

First Raptor Report of 2013 (01/23/2013)

Hello!

For those who don't know me, my name is Gavin Emmons, and I have returned for an 11th season as the raptor biologist at Pinnacles. I just wanted to send everyone an update as to the status of raptors for the past 3 weeks.

Prairie falcons (PRFA) have returned to Pinnacles and are establishing territories and engaging in courtship displays. A peregrine falcon (PEFA) pair that nested last year – for the 8th consecutive year –wintered at the park. The male and female peregrine falcons have both been observed in the Hawkins and Central High Peaks areas, calling to each other, engaging in courtship displays, and defending the territory by chasing other birds (vultures, hawks, and ravens) out of the areas. At least one adult peregrine falcon has also been observed in the Little Pinnacles (Yaks) area, and may be attempting to occupy the territory for nesting this year. The first prairie falcon pairs were confirmed at Crowley Towers and Chaos Crag / Tunnel by the beginning of 2013.

At present the following have been documented: 4 territories with PRFA pairs, 1 more territory with a single PRFA, 1 territory with the PEFA pair, and 1 territory with 1 PEFA. These are listed below:

  • Goat Rock / Resurrection Wall: Single PRFA, pair likely
  • Chaos Crag / Tunnel: PRFA pair
  • Hawkins Peak: PEFA pair
  • Crowley Towers: PRFA pair
  • Little Pinnacles (Yaks): Single PEFA, pair possible
  • South Balconies: PRFA pair
  • Drywall: PRFA pair

The following territories are currently unoccupied, with no falcons observed within them:

  • Scout Peak
  • Goat Rock
  • Machete Ridge
  • Willow Spring Slide
  • Canyon North of Willow Spring
  • Pig Canyon
  • Discovery Wall
  • Frog / Hand
  • Pipsqueak Pinnacles
  • Prescribed Burn Cliffs / Gargoyle Area
  • Citadel
  • D. Soto Canyon
  • Guard Rock
  • Rocks West of Chalone Housing
  • Mating Rocks / Tugboat
  • North Wilderness Rock

South Wilderness Rock, South Chalone Peak, and Marion Canyon have not yet been checked for raptor territorial status.

In general, PRFA activity this season seems to be proceeding on schedule in regards to annual occupancy and courtship schedules. Some of the unoccupied territories listed above will likely have active falcon pairs that arrive later in the season by February or March. Advisories are in effect to include the upper southwest face of Machete as a partial advisory area for the season. Advisories may be updated later in the spring if PRFA pair occupancy at Discovery Wall is confirmed and nesting is attempted.

Please note that climbing and hiking advisories are in effect as of today, January 22nd. Advisory signs have been placed at Hawkins, Scout, Balconies, and Little Pinnacles, to protect these sensitive species from the pressures of hiking and climbing during the upcoming nesting season. Any assistance park staff can provide in diverting visitors from advisory areas, and reporting incidents of climbers and hikers in advisory areas to law enforcement staff, is highly appreciated!

Golden eagles have also been seen regularly in and near the park over the past 3 weeks. No occupancy or nesting activity has been confirmed yet.

Other raptors observed in the park in January include American kestrels, and red-shouldered hawks have been seen in the Pinnacles Campground, near the Bacon barn, in McCabe Canyon, and in the South Wilderness, perching in valley oaks and vocalizing. Cooper’s and sharp-shinned hawks are active throughout the park along riparian corridors. Owl species have been unusually quiet in terms of early season vocalizations, but great-horned owls, western screech-owls, and barn owls have been active along riparian corridors, in the Pinnacles Campground, and in bottomlands areas.

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.

In particular, thanks to Daniel George, Paul Johnson, Joseph Belli, Dan Ryan, and Alacia Welch for raptor observations. I appreciate the support!

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
Pinnacles National Park
5000 Highway 146
Paicines, CA 95043
Office: 831-389-4486 x276

2013 Climbing Closures In Effect (01/23/2013)

Greetings FOP Members and Friends,

Just a quick not to let you know that as of January 22nd, climbing closures for 2013 are officially in effect.

For details see our Closures Page or visit the Park's closures page and don't forget to check out Gavin's first Raptor Report.

Climb On!

Let Your Voice Be Heard! Send Your GMP Feedback. (01/01/2013)

Let Your Voice Be Heard

Which "Alternative" do you prefer?

Send your GMP feedback to the Park using their on-line form. It only takes a second - the form is tiny.

Submit Your Feedback


Not ready to submit your preference? Read on to find out more.

Park General Management Plan

The Pinnacles General Management Plan is under review. As a member or fan of Friends of Pinnacles you have already demonstrated an active concern for the future of climbing at the Park, so do your part. There are only a handful of days left to give the Park your feedback regarding the plan.

We know that at 325 pages it is a bit much to ask you to read the entire GMP, especially since there is little in it specific to climbing, but it is still VERY important that you let your voice be heard with regard to helping the Park choose a "Management Alternative."

FOP has tried to summarize the "Alternatives" for you and provides additional information about the GMP that we think you may find valuable, both as a climber and a Park visitor. We call out climbing specific elements along with significant differences between the Alternatives.

For details you may also want to review the Summary Tables of Alternatives and Impacts section in Chapter 3 of the GMP.

FOP has also posted a simplified version of the summary tables on our Web site.

What Is The GMP

As most of you already know the General Management Plan (or GMP) is a document, created by the Park, which "articulates a vision and overall management philosophy for Pinnacles that will guide decision-making for the foreseeable future." According to Superintendent Karen Beppler-Dorn, "foreseeable" means 10 to 15 years. This "articulated philosophy" will be based on one of four "Alternatives" that the Park is asking us to, essentially, vote on.

What The GMP Is NOT

The GMP does not establish any specific policies related to climbing or route development in the Park. Those policies will be established in the "Climbing Management Plan" (or CMP) to be completed in the 2013/14 time frame.

BE AWARE! While all four Alternatives allow for continued climbing activity, each has (or lacks) provisions that could affect climbers indirectly OR impact the specifics determined later in the CMP.

What Are The "Alternatives"

To keep things as simple as possible FOP has created a greatly simplified summary of the 4 Alternatives calling out key elements of each and identifying Pros and Cons for each "relative to the climbing community." To paraphrase a great saying: "One park user's pros are another park user's cons."

Based on previous review by the general public (2008), four Alternatives have been identified. Each Alternative describes a strategy for managing and mapping each of the five *Park "Zones."

* details on Management Zones can be found in Chapt. 3, page 45

Note: The Park has already endorsed Alternative "D" - a "hybrid" of elements from the other alternatives. Friends Of Pinnacles also endorses Alternative "D."

ALL of the GMP alternatives specifically state that climbing will continue as a recognized activity.

Alternative "A" (Continue Current Management - No Change)

This basically means "stay the course" or don't make any changes to current policies. These current policies would be be officially documented along with baseline conditions for monitoring progress.

Pros   Cons
  • Attitudes and Regulations relative to climbing go unchanged
  • Access to areas remains the same
 
  • No new access opportunities (new trails)
  • No West Side camping
  • No Backcountry camping

Alternative "B" (Emphasize Backcountry Experience - Back To Nature)

This alternative focuses on the backcountry experience. Implementation includes: expanded "primitive" wilderness designations, reduced facilities and resources, restoration of wilderness where feasible.

Pros   Cons
  • More solitude
  • More wilderness
  • Some trail expansion
 
  • Reduced parking access (Moses Springs possibly removed, Chaparral removed)
  • No West Side camping
  • No Backcountry camping
  • More "primitive" designations could result in access limitations for climbers
  • Group size limitations proposed

Alternative "C" (Expand Visitor Experience - More Visitors)

This alternative expands an array of visitor use opportunities; the focus being more visitors experiencing more of the park.

Pros   Cons
  • More facilities
  • More trails
  • West side and backcountry camping
  • Increased educational, cultural and recreational opportunities
 
  • Significant increases in visitor traffic possible
  • Reduced parking access (Chaparral moved)
  • Reduced solitude possible
  • Expanded general use opportunities and traffic could affect climber access

Alternative "D" (Link People and Resources - focus on stewardship and sharing)

This is the Park and FOP endorsed alternative. The plan is a hybrid of the other alternatives, blending the strengths and advantages from the other alternatives. This plan changes the focus from a more physical orientation to a more visceral, broad view perspective. In essence this alternative promotes resource preservation and sharing through education and encouraging stewardship across all affected communities.

Pros   Cons
  • Better facilities
  • More trails
  • West side and backcountry camping
  • Increased educational and cultural opportunities
 
  • Reduced parking access (Moses Springs possibly removed, Chaparral moved)

That completes your &quot;crash-course&quot; in the General Management Plan for Pinnacles.

So... Submit Your Comments Today!

Submit Your Feedback


You can also download a mail in version of the Feedback Form.

Latest GMP Released for Review (11/05/2012)

Pinnacles National Monument Releases Draft General Management Plan / Environmental Assessment for Public Comment

Paicines, CA - The National Park Service has released the Draft General Management Plan and Environmental Assessment for Pinnacles National Monument. The public is invited to provide comments on the draft document by January 11, 2013. Four public meetings and local community events will be held the second week of November:

  • Paicines
    Community BBQ/Potluck and Presentation
    November 13, Tuesday, 5:30 - 8:00 PM
    Jefferson School, 221 Old Hernandez Rd

  • Tres Pinos
    Community breakfast with PINN Superintendent Karen Beppler-Dorn
    November 14, Wednesday, 7:30 - 9:00 AM%Flap Jacks, 6881 Airline Hwy

  • Hollister
    Presentation and Open House
    November 14, Wednesday, 6:00 - 8:00 PM
    San Benito County Library, Barbara Room, 470 5th Street

  • Soledad
    Presentation and Open House
    November 15, Thursday, 6:30 - 8:30 PM
    Soledad High School, Mission Room, 425 Gabilan Drive

The planning process for this general management plan began in 2006. The NPS planning team sought public input throughout the process. The Draft General Management Plan and Environmental Assessment includes maps and narrative text that describes three action alternatives and a no action alternative, which represents the way the monument is currently managed. The preferred alternative, developed in part from public comments, represents a balance among the wide range of ideas. The planning team is especially interested in the public's input to this alternative.

There are a variety of ways to provide comments on this important phase of the planning process:

Comments may be submitted directly through the website, via e-mail at pinn_gmp@nps.gov, or by writing us at:

Karen Beppler-Dorn, Superintendent
Pinnacles National Monument
Attn: General Management Plan Team
5000 Highway 146
Paicines, CA 95043

Public Meetings for General Management Plan Review (10/31/2012)

Pinnacles National Monument is hosting public meetings and community events to present its Draft General Management Plan and to seek input.

  • Community BBQ/Potluck and Presentation
    November 13, Tuesday, 5:30 - 8:00 PM
    Paicines: Jefferson School, 221 Old Hernandez Rd

  • Community breakfast with PINN Superintendent Karen Beppler-Dorn
    November 14, Wednesday, 7:30 - 9:00 AM
    Tres Pinos: Flap Jacks, 6881 Airline Hwy

  • Presentation and Open House
    November 14, Wednesday, 6:00 - 8:00 PM
    Hollister: San Benito County Library, Barbara Room, 470 5th Street

  • Presentation and Open House
    November 15, Thursday, 6:30 - 8:30 PM
    Soledad: Soledad High School, Mission Room, 425 Gabilan Drive

For additional information:

Mail: Superintendent, Pinnacles National Monument GMP, 5000 Hwy 146, Paicines, CA 95043
Phone: Karen Beppler-Dorn, Superintendent: (831) 389-4486 x 233

Summer Speaker Series Final Month (10/13/2012)

Please join us for the brand new speaker series at Pinnacles National Monument being held at the new Visitor Contact Station in the park for the second, third and fourth. The Speaker Series concludes this month.

The presentations are free and last 30-60 minutes each. All series events are open to the general public. Bring the family, kids activities are included!

The Month of October focuses on the Climate Change and Green Energy.

  • A Changing Climate: Fact and Action
    October 13th, 2:00 pm

Sarah-Mae Nelson, Climate Change Interpretive Specialist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, will share the essentials of what is happening with our changing climate, and what we can do to slow the change and adapt to our new environment.

  • The Power of Renewable Energy
    October 20th, 2:00 pm

What are you going to do in the current energy crisis? What are the benefits of renewable energy and how does it work? Gareth Gregg, from Cal-Power Inc., will bring his mobile light station to show us the ins and outs of renewable energy.

  • Cosmic Time
    October 27th, 7:00 pm

Astronomer and spacecraft systems engineer, Eric Dahlstrom will be comparing the long timescales of the stars with geologic and human time here on Earth. After a short talk, we will move outside to look for objects in the night sky.

The final three speakers will be presenting at the new Visitor Contact Station on the west side (Soledad) of the park at 2:00pm, $5.00 park entrance fee applies.

Highway 146 on the east side and west side of Pinnacles National Monument do not connect, there is no direct route through the park. To attend these special programs make sure you enter the park from the west side, near Soledad, CA.

Nichole Andler
Chief of Interpretation

Pinnacles National Monument
5000 Highway 146
Paicines, CA 95043
(831) 389-4486 ext 265

Traffic Delays on Park Road (09/28/2012)

Week of October 1st

Construction improvements on the park roads will cause traffic minor delays during the week. Normal access will return for the weekend. If you have questions or concerns please call the park at (831)389-4485.

EAST SIDE

  • Friday-Tuesday 9/28 thru 10/2
    Pavement Patching - Expect incidental traffic delays at patching sites.
  • Wednesday-Thursday 10/3-4
    Chip Seal - Expect minor traffic delays - pilot cars will be used to escort traffic around work areas.

WEST SIDE

  • Tues 10/2 - Chip Seal
    Expect full road closure at west entrance cattleguard - 7am thru 6pm. Signs will be posted at Metz and Hwy 146 identifying 10/2 road closure at least 72 hours in advance of work. On 10/2 there will be a "Road Closed Ahead" sign near the Chalone Winery turn-off on Hwy 146. Contractor conducting the road work will turn cars back at the cattleguard.

Please use the east entrance of the park to access the high peaks and Balconies Cave if you plan to visit on October 1st. You can also go to www.nps.gov/pinn and check the "Park Alerts" at the top of the page for the latest updates through October 5th.

Highway 146 on the east side and west side of Pinnacles National Monument do not connect, there is no direct route through the park.

-NPS-

Nichole Andler
Chief of Interpretation

Pinnacles National Monument
5000 Highway 146
Paicines, CA 95043
(831) 389-4486 ext 265

Speaker Series: Wildlife of Pinnacles (09/26/2012)

Please join us for the brand new speaker series at Pinnacles National Monument being held at the Soledad library the first Saturday of each month and the new Visitor Contact Station in the park for the second, third and fourth. The Speaker Series will continue through October.

The presentations are free and will last 30-60 minutes each and are open to the general public. Bring the family, kids activities are included!

The Month of September focuses on the Wildlife of Pinnacles and Central California.

Wildlife Rehabilitation: A Look At Your Local Center

September 29, 2012

  • What happens to sick, injured, or orphaned wildlife? Audrey Gosset of the SPCA of Monterey County and her special animal guest will teach us about the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.
  • These speakers will be presenting at the new Visitor Contact Station on the west side (Soledad) of the park at 2:00pm, park entrance fee applies.

October’s speakers will focus Climate Change and Green Energy.

Nichole Andler
Chief of Interpretation

Pinnacles National Monument
5000 Highway 146
Paicines, CA 95043
(831) 389-4486 ext 265

Traffic Delays: Sept 17/18/19 (09/15/2012)

Expect delays on the West Side park road September 17th, 18th and 19th.

Construction on the park road on the west side will cause traffic delays of 30-60 minutes. Please check-in at the Visitor Contact Station to wait for a temporary road opening to access the Chaparral Trailhead. There will be a traffic delay leaving Chaparral also. To avoid traffic delays you may enter the park on the east side and hike all park trails from there.

Highway 146 on the east side and west side of Pinnacles National Monument do not connect, there is no direct route through the park.

LEED Platinum Rating for new Visitor Contact Station (09/15/2012)

The Pinnacles National Monument West Side Visitor Center has received the U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification, the Council's highest rating for sustainable buildings. The visitor center, completed in January 2012, was opened to the public in a dedication ceremony on April 11, 2012.

"Pinnacles National Monument is proud to set an example of how to build and operate sustainably. The natural resources of central California are an amazing example of diversity from the Pacific Ocean shores to the Gabilan Mountain Range, these new facilities are a great step forward to continue to protect the future of this area," said Karen Beppler-Dorn, superintendent of Pinnacles National Monument.

Many sustainable features of the building have contributed to the Platinum certification, including the use of solar energy for its power source, energy and water saving features throughout the building including geothermal cooling, permeable paving, 41% of the building's materials were manufactured within 500 miles of the project site, and construction waste was diverted from the landfill. In addition, all of the regularly occupied spaces within the facility have day lighting, and most have access to outdoor views.

The design of the visitor center answers the National Park Service (NPS) Call to Action, an initiative to prepare the NPS for a second century of stewardship and engagement. This project addresses the "Going Green" action item by reducing the Pinnacles National Monument carbon footprint through the use of renewable energy sources, and action item "Out with the Old" by installing interpretive media that can offer interactive experiences and are accessible to all members of the public.

This $7.3 million project was funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and managed by the Denver Service Center, the NPS centralized office for planning, design and construction services. This facility replaces the Old Chaparral Ranger Station, which was located in a flood prone area.

You can visit the new facilities, enjoy a ranger program, or go hiking on the west side of the park by taking Hwy 101 to Soledad, CA and follow Hwy 146 into Pinnacles National Monument. Highway 146 on the east side and west side of Pinnacles National Monument do not connect, there is no direct route through the park.

Nichole Andler
Chief of Interpretation

Pinnacles National Monument
5000 Highway 146
Paicines, CA 95043
(831) 389-4486 ext 265

Speaker Series for September (09/11/2012)

Wildlife Extravaganza

  • Date: September 8th
  • Time: 2:00PM
  • Where: West Side Visitor Station

Rangers throughout Pinnacles National Monument have combined forces to bring you the most up-to-0date photo compilation of wildlife species known to inhabit this land.

Ranger Jennifer will teach you about the different groups of animals at Pinnacles.

Giants of the Sky: A Story of California Condors

  • Date: September 15th
  • Time: 2:00PM
  • Where: West Side Visitor Station

Condor Biologist Jessica Auser will teach us about condors in all their glory. Pinnacles National Monument is a condor release site; Jessica will go into the intricacies of tracking these endangered giants of the sky.

Wildlife, Hunting and Working Landscapes: Finding Common Ground

  • Date: September 22nd
  • Time: 2:00PM
  • Where: West Side Visitor Station

Pinnacle's very own Non-Lead Outreach Coordinator, Scott Scherbinski will discuss te legacy of wildlife conservation by the hunting and ranching community.

Wildlife Rehabilitation: A Look At Your Local Center

  • Date: September 29th
  • Time: 2:00PM
  • Where: West Side Visitor Station

What happens to sick, injured, or orphaned wildlife? Audrey Gosset of the SPCA of Monterey County and her special animal guest will teach us about the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.

New Climbing/Hiking Guide Listings (09/04/2012)

We have updated our hiking and climbing guides listing. If you are interested in finding a guide go to the Climbing and Hiking Guides section of our FAQs.

2012 Speaker Series: Slithery Snakes (08/30/2012)

Trial and Tribulations of Slithery Snakes

Join Park Ranger Jennifer, of Pinnacles National Monument, as she explores the many challenges that snakes face in their bid for survival. In this 30-60 minute fun-filled discussion, we will learn about some of these amazing adaptations and how they make life without limbs possible. Kid’s activities include -handling snake skins and -junior ranger booklets. Come join in this family-friendly event!

When: Saturday September 1st, 2:00pm
Where: Soledad Library

401 Gabilan Drive
Soledad, CA 93960

Summer Speaker Series Continues (08/25/2012)

Please join us for the brand new speaker series at Pinnacles National Monument being held at the Soledad library the first Saturday of each month and the new Visitor Contact Station in the park for the second, third and fourth. The Speaker Series will continue through October.

The presentations are free and will last 30-60 minutes each and are open to the general public. Bring the family kids activities are included!

The Month of August focuses on the People of Central California.

  • Life of the Amah Mutsun with Val Lopez, Chairman of Amah Mutsun Tribal Band
    August 25, 2012 , 2:00pm

Join us as Valentin Lopez, Chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Council, walks us through the relationship between the Amah Mutsun tribe’s descendants and the land of Pinnacles National Monument. Bring your family to this fun filled event. Kids activities are included!!

These speakers will be presenting at the new Visitor Contact Station on the west side (Soledad) of the park at 2:00pm, park entrance fee applies.

September’s speakers will focus on Wildlife and October on Climate Change and Sustainability.

Highway 146 on the east side and west side of Pinnacles National Monument do not connect, there is no direct route through the park. To attend these special programs make sure you enter the park from the west side, near Soledad, CA.

Nichole Andler
Chief of Interpretation

Pinnacles National Monument
5000 Highway 146
Paicines, CA 95043
(831) 389-4486 ext 265
email Nicole

Summer Speaker Series Continues (08/13/2012)

Summer Speaker Series Continues

Please join us for the brand new speaker series at Pinnacles National Monument being held at the Soledad library the first Saturday of each month and the new Visitor Contact Station in the park for the second, third and fourth. The Speaker Series will continue through October.

The presentations are free and will last 30-60 minutes each and are open to the general public. Bring the family kids activities are included!

The Month of August focuses on the People of Central California:

  • Ethnobotany: Research and Applications with Ranger Sara Reid (August 11, 2012)
    Join Ranger Sara at 2:00pm to learn more about the ways people have used plants as food and find out what Pinnacles National Monument is doing to maintain traditional landscapes in cooperation with tribal partners.
  • The Anza Expedition of 1776 with Superintendent Naomi Torres (August 18, 2012)
  • Life of the Amah Mutsun with Val Lopez, Chairman of Amah Mutsun Tribal Band (August 25, 2012)

These speakers will be presenting at the new Visitor Contact Station on the west side (Soledad) of the park at 2:00pm, park entrance fee applies.

September’s speakers will focus on Wildlife and October on Climate Change and Sustainability.

Highway 146 on the east side and west side of Pinnacles National Monument do not connect, there is no direct route through the park. To attend these special programs make sure you enter the park from the west side, near Soledad, CA.

Announcing the Pinnacles Speakers Series (07/31/2012)

Please join us for the brand new Speaker Series at Pinnacles National Monument being held at the Soledad library the first Saturday of each month and the new Visitor Contact Station in the park for the second, third and fourth. The Speaker Series will continue through October.

Presentations are free and will last 30-60 minutes each and are open to the general public. Bring the family kids activities are included!

The Month of September focuses on the People of Central California.

Pinnacles' Park Ranger Jennifer Updyke will provide the very first program of the series. She will take you on a journey through time to explore the many ways that Pinnacles National Monument has been valued by its inhabitants.

Meet Ranger Jenn:

What: A Look Back At The People Who Have Inhabited The Pinnacles
Where: Soledad Library
When: August 4, 2012
Time: 2:00pm

The Soledad library is located at 401 Gabilan Drive, Soledad, CA 93960

The rest of August's speakers will be presenting at the new Visitor Contact Station on the west side (Soledad) of the park at 2:00pm:

  • August 11, 2012 -
    Ethnobotany: Research and Applications with Ranger Sara Reid
  • August 18, 2012 -
    The Anza Expedition of 1776 with Superintendent Naomi Torres
  • August 25, 2012 -
    Life of the Amah Mutsun with Val Lopez, Chairman of Amah Mutsun Tribal Band

September will focus on Wildlife and October on Climate Change and Sustainability.

We hope to see you there!

Nichole Andler
Chief of Interpretation

If you have questions, send Nicole and email or call (831) 389-4486 ext 265

All Closures Lifted for 2012 (07/02/2012)

Release: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Release Date: 07/01/2012
Contact: Nichole Andler, Chief of Interpretation, Pinnacles National Monument
Phone: (831) 389-4486

CLIMBING AREAS REOPEN

Rock formations subject to advisory closures to rock climbing and off-trail hiking for protecting nesting falcons and eagles have reopened. According to Superintendent Karen Bepler-Dorn, "All sensitive areas have been reopened and will remain so until next January when the raptors return and begin to select nest areas again." A total of 8 prairie falcon nests successfully produced nestlings and fledged a total of 29 young, representing an average year for Pinnacles prairie falcon productivity. Other nesting raptor species at Pinnacles in 2012 included:

  • Red-shouldered
  • Red-tailed
  • Sharp-shinned
  • Cooper's Hawks
  • Golden Eagles
  • White-tailed Kites
  • 3 owl species
  • 1 Peregrine Falcon nest at Hawkins Peak

2012 marks the 26th consecutive year of raptor monitoring at Pinnacles National Monument. "We thank the climbers and hikers for their patience and support of our efforts to protect these spectacular birds of prey at Pinnacles. Without your cooperation in avoiding the advisory areas, this program could not be the success that it is," Bepler-Dorn explained. Pinnacles' rock climbing advisories are lifted a few weeks after the nests have fledged. This allows the new fledglings some time to practice flying without being interrupted or disturbed by people.

For more information regarding raptor activity at Pinnacles National Monument, or the park's raptor monitoring program, please call the office of Research and Resource Management at 831-389-4486 x270.

Raptor Monitoring Update for Apr/May (05/30/2012)

Prairie falcons (PRFA) and the Hawkins peregrine falcon (PEFA) pair are actively nesting, with most pairs feeding nestlings that are developing towards fledging, or first flights. At present the following have been documented: 11 territories with PRFA nests, a PRFA territory with a non-nesting pair, and the PEFA nest. These are listed below:

  • Resurrection Wall: PRFA nest, nestlings confirmed
  • Egg / Tunnel / Teapot Dome: PRFA nest, fledglings confirmed
  • Hawkins Peak: PEFA nest, nestlings confirmed
  • Crowley Towers: PRFA nest, fledglings confirmed
  • Hanging Valley / Little Pinnacles: PRFA pair, non-nesting
  • Citadel: PRFA pair, nest failed
  • South Balconies: PRFA nest, nestlings confirmed
  • Machete: PRFA pair, nest failed
  • Canyon North of Willow Spring: PRFA nest, nestlings confirmed
  • Drywall: PRFA nest, 2nd clutch attempt after failed 1st attempt
  • North Chalone Peak: PRFA nest, nestlings confirmed
  • South Chalone Peak: PRFA nest, nestlings confirmed

The following territories are currently unoccupied, with no falcons observed within them:

  • Scout Peak
  • Goat Rock
  • North Balconies
  • Pipsqueak Pinnacles
  • Prescribed Burn Cliffs / Gargoyle Area
  • Frog / Hand
  • Mating Rocks / Tugboat
  • North Wilderness Rock
  • South Wilderness Rock
  • Marion Canyon / Narrows

This has been an interesting year for PRFA nesting activity at Pinnacles. The nests at Egg and Crowley successfully fledged all nestlings on 20-26 May. On average, these represent very early nesting efforts for PRFA; generally nesting pairs fledge young in mid-June. The PRFA pair at Drywall laid eggs at an eyrie by April, but the nest subsequently failed. By late May the Drywall PRFA pair had re-nested at a new location, representing the first second clutch nest attempt by a Pinnacles PRFA pair in more than 10 years.

Please note that climbing and hiking advisories are in effect, and have been updated for May 2012. Raptor advisory signs have been placed at Hawkins and Balconies to protect these sensitive species from the pressures of hiking and climbing during the nesting season. Any assistance park staff can provide in diverting visitors from advisory areas, and reporting incidents of climbers and hikers in advisory areas to law enforcement staff, is highly appreciated!

Golden eagles have also been seen regularly in and near the park over the past month. Nesting attempts at the Eucalyptus Grove along Highway 146 approaching the west side entrance of Pinnacles, and at North Chalone Peak, likely failed due to predation or abandonment.

In total, forty-six raptor nests representing 11 species have been confirmed at Pinnacles so far this season. These include:

  • 9 red-tailed hawk nests, 6 red-shouldered hawk nests
  • 1 white-tailed kite nest, 6 American kestrel nests
  • 4 Cooper’s hawk nests
  • 3 barn owl nests
  • 2 long-eared owl nests
  • 1 great-horned owl nest.

This ranks as the second-highest total nest numbers ever documented in a season during the 26 years of the raptor monitoring program at Pinnacles. Kim Sawyer and Nate Melling have been assisting with raptor monitoring throughout the year and deserve a lot of credit for the comprehensive nest numbers we’ve been able to document this year. Their efforts are much appreciated!

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. In particular, thanks to Josh Littlejohn, Shauna Hobbs, Liz Allard, Sean Parnell, Paul Johnson, Jennifer Tiehm, Elise Hinger, Tessa Christensen, Jennie Jones, Dan Ryan, Daniel George, and Alacia Welch for raptor observations. I’m grateful for the support!

If you have any observations within the park to report, or any raptor-related questions, please email Gavin Emmons or call (831) 389-4486 x276.

Cllimbing Advisories Update (04/16/2012)

The latest closures information has been posted to the Climbing Information area. Our thanks to Gavin for keeping this information up to date.

The PRFA pair around Hanging Valley / Little Pinnacles appears to consist of two young birds that are considering nesting options in the area but have not yet committed to any cliff cavity sites.

Please note that climbing and hiking advisories are in effect, and have been updated for April 2012. Raptor advisory signs have been placed at Hawkins, Scout, Balconies, and Little Pinnacles, to protect these sensitive species from the pressures of hiking and climbing during the nesting season. Any assistance climbers can provide in diverting visitors from advisory areas, and reporting incidents of uninformed climbers and hikers in advisory areas to law enforcement staff, is highly appreciated!

Golden eagles have also been seen regularly in and near the park over the past month. Nesting pairs have been confirmed incubating eggs along Highway 146 approaching the west side entrance of Pinnacles, and near North Chalone Peak.

In total, thirty-four raptor nests representing 9 species have been confirmed at Pinnacles so far this season. These include:

  • 7 red-tailed hawk nests
  • 6 red-shouldered hawk nests
  • 1 white-tailed kite nest
  • 3 barn owl nests
  • 2 long-eared owl nests
  • 1 great-horned owl nest

American kestrels have been observed throughout the park and should be beginning cliff- and tree-cavity nesting efforts this month. Cooper’s and sharp-shinned hawks are engaging in territorial and courtship displays in riparian habitat through the park and should be beginning nest selection and egg laying by the end of April.

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 you have the inclination to assist with our raptor spotting program, please contact me (Gavin) directly.

Special Ranger Programs at the New Visitor Contact Station (04/09/2012)

As part of the celebration for the new West Side, Visitor Contact Station Pinnacles National Monument will be having special programs on the weekend of April 14th and 15th. Join rangers and park scientist to learn more about your park. There will be musical performances on Saturday and Sunday as well. See the schedule below.

SATURDAY APRIL 14th

  • 10:00am – Condor Talk
  • 10:30am – Green Technology Tour
  • 11:00am – Geology Talk
  • 11:30am – Balconies Loop and Cave Hike – Meet at Chaparral
  • 12:00pm – Coyote Talk
  • 1:00pm – Condor Talk
  • 2:00pm – Watsonville Taiko Drum Group
  • 2:30pm – Green Technology Tour
  • 3:00pm – Geology Talk
  • 4:00pm – Coyote Talk

SUNDAY APRIL 15th

  • 10:00am – Coyote Talk
  • 10:30am – Green Technology Tour
  • 11:00am – Geology Talk
  • 11:30am – Balconies Loop and Cave Hike – Meet at Chaparral
  • 12:00pm – Junior Ranger Program
  • 1:00pm – Noe Montoya – Guitar Music
  • 2:00pm – Coyote Talk
  • 2:30pm – Green Technology Tour
  • 3:00pm – Geology Talk

All programs are free, but there is a $5.00 per vehicle entrance fee.

See the Park Web site for directions to the West Side.

Dedication Ceremony for New Visitor Contact Station (04/05/2012)

Join the National Park Service at Pinnacles National Monument to dedicate the new Visitor Contact Station on the west side of the park.

  • Date: Wed, April 11th
  • Time: 1:00PM
  • Where: Pinnacles West Side Contact Station

The Dedication Ceremony will begin at 11:00am with guest speakers, ribbon cutting and flag raising ceremony. Beginning at 1:00pm there will be special Ranger program, with a Condor Talk by Park biologist Daniel George and a ranger guided hike to Balconies with Ranger BG Horvat. Explore the new exhibits that highlight the park’s geology and California condors and much more At 2:00 and 4:00pm there will be tours of the new Visitor Contact Station and the sustainable processes used during construction.

Highway 146 on the east side and west side of Pinnacles National Monument do not connect, there is no direct route through the park. To attend these special programs make sure you enter the park from the west side, near Soledad, CA.

Raptor Monitoring Update - February 2012 (03/10/2012)

Prairie falcons (PRFA) and the Hawkins peregrine falcon (PEFA) pair are engaging in courtship displays and inspecting potential nest sites.

At present the following have been documented: 10 territories with PRFA pairs and the PEFA territory. These are listed below:

  • Goat Rock / Resurrection Wall: PRFA pair
  • Egg / Tunnel / Teapot Dome: PRFA pair
  • Hawkins Peak: PEFA pair
  • Crowley Towers: PRFA pair
  • Hanging Valley: PRFA pair
  • Citadel: PRFA pair
  • South Balconies: PRFA pair
  • General Balconies / Machete: PRFA pair
  • Canyon North of Willow Spring / Willow Spring Slide: PRFA pair
  • Drywall: PRFA pair
  • North Chalone Peak: PRFA pair

The following territories are currently unoccupied, with no falcons observed within them:

  • Scout Peak
  • Little Pinnacles
  • Pipsqueak Pinnacles
  • Prescribed Burn Cliffs / Gargoyle Area
  • Frog / Hand
  • Mating Rocks / Tugboat
  • North Wilderness Rock
  • South Wilderness Rock
  • Marion Canyon / Narrows

South Chalone Peak has not yet been checked for raptor territorial status.

The PRFA pair at Hanging Valley appears to consist of two young birds that are considering occupying the area but have also inspected the Reservoir and Little Pinnacles for potential nest cavity options.

Please note that climbing and hiking advisories are in effect. Raptor advisory signs have been placed at Hawkins, Scout, Balconies, and Little Pinnacles, to protect these sensitive species from the pressures of hiking and climbing during the nesting season. Any assistance park staff can provide in diverting visitors from advisory areas, and reporting incidents of climbers and hikers in advisory areas to law enforcement staff, is highly appreciated!

Golden eagles have also been seen regularly in and near the park over the past month. A nesting pair has been confirmed incubating eggs at the Eucalyptus Grove along Highway 146 approaching the west side entrance of Pinnacles. A territorial eagle pair at North Chalone Peak is also actively preparing a historical nest site for likely use this season.

Other raptors observed in the park in February and early March include American kestrels, and red-shouldered hawks have been seen preparing nest sites and vocalizing at the Pinnacles Campground, Bacon barn area, McCabe Canyon, Bench Trail junction with the fire road, and the Regan Ranch Canyon. Red-tailed hawks are also preparing nest sites, with pairs documented at Butterfield Canyon, Rose Canyon, McCabe Canyon, South Wilderness Rock, Chalone housing, Marion Canyon, Eagle Rock, North Balconies, Western Front, Condor Gulch, and Frog/Hand. Cooper's and sharp-shinned hawks are active throughout the park along riparian corridors, and have been observed near the Reservoir, along the North and South Wilderness Trails, near the Bear Gulch and Moses Spring parking lots, the Chaparral Area, Pinnacles Campground, McCabe Canyon, and throughout the bottomlands. White-tailed kite pairs have been observed in the bottomlands near the Bacon barn and north near the Butterfield barn. Great-horned owl vocalizations have been documented near the Chalone housing area, in lower Condor Gulch, and in the Pinnacles Campground. Barn owl pairs have been observed roosting in cliff cavities at the slide east of Chalone housing and Marion Canyon, and in a valley oak cavity in Rose Canyon.

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. You can also report observations directly to me, Nate Melling, and Kim Sawyer, and we will make sure your observations get documented on observation cards. In particular, thanks to Paul Johnson, Jennifer Tiehm, Nate Melling, Kim Sawyer, Tessa Christensen, Liz Allard, Jennie Jones, Dan Ryan, and Alacia Welch for raptor observations. I appreciate the support!

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

Family Junior Ranger Day at the New Visitor Contact Station at West Pinnacles (01/13/2012)

This Saturday, January 14th join a ranger for a Junior Ranger Program the whole family can enjoy. Get to know Pinnacles National Monument, the national park in your back yard! Special Junior Ranger Programs will be held at 11:00am, 1:00pm and 2:00pm. You can also come into the new Visitor Contact Station and ask for a Junior Ranger Book to explore Pinnacles on your own. Sign out an Adventure Pack, a back pack filled with great tools like guide books and hand lenses to explore the great outdoors! The Junior Ranger programs, Junior Ranger Books and Adventure Packs are all free.

This weekend (January 14, 15 and 16) is a Fee Free Weekend, there is no entrance fee to enter the park. January 14th is the first day the new Pinnacles National Monument West Side Visitor Contact Station will be open to the public.

Highway 146 on the east side and west side of Pinnacles National Monument do not connect, there is no direct route through the park. To attend these special programs make sure you enter the park from the west side, near King City, CA.

Visitor Contact Station at Pinnacles National Monument is Now Open (01/13/2012)

The new Visitor Contact Station in Pinnacles National Monument, on the west side, is now open. Get to know Pinnacles National Monument, the national park in your back yard! Special Junior Ranger Programs will be held at 11:00am, 1:00pm and 2:00pm, bring the family. The Junior Ranger programs are free. Look around the new visitor contact station to learn more about the natural and cultural feature of Pinnacles National Monument. Look for the life size sculptures of the endangered California Condor! Enjoy a picnic lunch on the patio, or watch for song birds. Checkout a free Adventure pack to take with you on a hike to explore the park. This weekend (January 14, 15 and 16) is a Fee Free Weekend, there is no entrance fee to enter the park.

Highway 146 on the east side and west side of Pinnacles National Monument do not connect, there is no direct route through the park. To attend these special programs make sure you enter the park from the west side, near Soledad, CA.

For additional information go to the Pinnacles National Park Web site.

Man Rescued After Being Pinned Under Boulder (12/08/2011)

Pinnacles Press Release

Release Date: 12/06/2011

On a sunny day perfect for hiking and climbing, rangers at Pinnacles National Monument were informed that a climber was pinned under a boulder and in need of assistance. When National Park Service (NPS) personnel arrived on scene the trapped climber was free from the boulder after his climbing partner dug out the talus from under him, allowing him to scramble out.

Soon after the climber’s condition deteriorated and he was nearly unresponsive when NPS personnel reached him. The climber was on a steep talus (loose rock) slope with thick shrubby vegetation, making reaching the climber difficult. NPS personnel hiked a mile to reach the climber with a litter and other medical equipment. A Calstar helicopter was able to respond and touched down on a nearby ridge, about a 20 minute scramble over the talus, to drop off a medic and flight nurse to assist with the rescue.

Once the climber was secured for movement the NPS set up a belay system and NPS and Calfire personnel lowered the climber approximately 50 feet down a steep slope to a place where California Highway Patrol (CHP) could hoist the hiker up to their helicopter. The Calstar crew and helicopter met the CHP helicopter in the parking area to transfer the climber to Calstar for transport to a bay area hospital.

The rescue took just under three hours. Cooperation from park partners, including Calfire, Soledad Fire, California Highway Patrol, AMR Ambulance and Calstar, resulted in a quick, safe response to evacuate the hiker.

For additional information, please contact Nichole Andler (Interpretation Division) at (831) 389–4486 ext. 265

FOP Board Member Assists in Rescue Operation (12/08/2011)

For those of you who have not heard, Brad Young (Friends of Pinnacles Board member) contributed significantly to the rescue described in our News article: Man Rescued After Being Pinned Under Boulder.

For complete details see this article from The Californian.

For more up-to-date information on Lars condition see this thread on the Mud 'N Crud forum.

Our best wishes to Lars for a speedy recovery and kudos to all of those involved in the rescue effort (NPS, Calfire, Soledad Fire, California Highway Patrol, AMR Ambulance and Calstar), with a special nod to Brad and Josh for their quick action.

Pinnacles West Side Visitor Contact Station Nears Completion (12/07/2011)

ARRA Funded West Pinnacles Visitor Contact Station Nears Completion

A new West Pinnacles Visitor Contact Station at Pinnacles National Monument is slated for completion just after the new year, replacing the existing flood prone Chaparral Ranger Station. The state-of-the-art contact station is one of 800 National Park Service projects receiving funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Approximately 150 local construction jobs were created as a result of ARRA stimulus funding.

Commonly referred to as the Stimulus or The Recovery Act,ARRA is an economic stimulus package enacted by the 111th United States Congress in February2009 and signed into law on February 17, 2009, by President Barack Obama .

The West Pinnacles Visitor Contact Station is among several other improvements set to open on the west side of the Pinnacles National Monument. Additional facility upgrades include housing for park staff, a maintenance building with an emergency operations center and an entrance station.

Anderson-Burton Construction, Inc. was awarded the contract to build the west side facilities using “green” designs. The monument expects the new facilities to earn a platinum rating, the highest rating from the U.S. green building council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design(LEED)program.

The design of the visitor contact station answers National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis’s latest initiative,A Call to Action. First, by Going Green in an eco-friendly building that is expected to reduce the Pinnacles carbon footprint through the use of renewable energy sources and Out with the Old,installing interpretive media that can offer interactive experiences and are accessible to the broadest range of the public.

Pinnacles will be making the transition into the new facilities throughout the month of December and into the new year, with the West Pinnacles Visitor Contact Station opening to the public on January6, 2012. In the interim, a temporary visitor contact station will be provided at the Chaparral parking lot beginning December 5, 2011. The monument plans a public dedication ceremony for the new facilities in mid-April.

For complete details on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, go to www.recovery.gov.
For more information on new West Pinnacles facilities and improvements go to the Pinnacles Park Web Site
or contact BG Horvat at (831) 389 –4486 x267.

Prescribed Fire at Pinnacles Renews Traditional Practice (11/25/2011)

Pinnacles National Monument is planning to conduct a small prescribed fire during the week after Thanksgiving as part of an interagency research project to learn about the traditional use of fire in central California. National Park Service Fire Management staff will complete the burn operations with cooperators from the Cal Fire San Benito-Monterey Unit, in consultation with the Amah Mutsan tribal band. The burn will be approximately two acres in size and is scheduled for Wednesday, November 30, but the date could change based on weather conditions. Smoke may be visible in Paicines and vicinity, or from trails within the Monument. Caution is advised if smoke is present, but no roads or trails will be closed.

The burn is located on the east side of Pinnacles in an area rich in two culturally important plants – deergrass (Mulenbergia rigens), and white root sedge (Carex barbarae), both highly valued by California Indian tribes. Pinnacles has initiated research for the purpose of restoring traditional land management techniques to these plant communities. The central research questions are, “How did the use of fire and other practices by California Indians influence the vegetation of central California, and what techniques best achieve cultural goals for plant use?”

The effects of burning deergrass will be compared with mechanical clipping to stimulate the growth of flower stalks which are used in the foundation of coiled baskets. Fire temperature will be measured during the burn and silica particles known as “phytoliths” (or plant stones) will be collected from the ash to learn about the fire history of the site. Fire scars in tree rings will also be studied at two other sites -- the Quiroste Valley, a cultural preserve in Ano Nuevo State Park, 65 miles south of San Francisco, and another site yet to be determined. Additional research at Pinnacles National Monument will determine what techniques promote longer, straighter rhizomes in the white root sedge, characteristics which enhance their use for basket-making.

The native plant populations at Pinnacles National Monument will also be a propagation source for development of the Amah Mutsun Relearning Garden at the University of California Santa Cruz Arboretum. The Relearning Garden is part of a 55-acre area known as the California Native Gardens that is owned by the University and will provide plant material for research, cultural use and education. The Relearning Garden has begun a series of “Work and Learn Parties” which have included demonstrations of fire-making, pine needle basket-weaving and herbalism. Three events are planned at the Relearning Garden for 2012. Several research tours will also be offered next year at Pinnacles National Monument. For information about these educational opportunities contact:

To be notified when the burn date is confirmed for the upcoming prescribed fire at Pinnacles National Monument, contact: Denise Louie, Chief of Research and Resource Management at 831-389-4486 ext. 222 or by email.

West Pinnacles Amidst Transition To New Location (11/18/2011)

A new West Pinnacles Visitor Contact Station at Pinnacles National Monument is slated for completion just after the new year, replacing the existing flood prone Chaparral Ranger Station. The new contact station is one of 800 National Park Service projects receiving funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act(ARRA).

The West Pinnacles Visitor Contact Station is among several other improvements set to open on the west side of the Pinnacles National Monument. Additional facility upgrades include housing for park staff, a maintenance building withan emergency operations center and an entrance station.

On Tuesday, November 22, 2011, from10:00AM –5:00PM, beginning at the west entrance to the Pinnacles, Chaparral Road will be closed as the road is repaved and heavy construction equipment will be present. The park will remain open and visitors may access the park from the temporary road closure by foot.

Beginning December 5, 2011, a temporary contact station providing visitor information will reside at the Chaparral parking lot until final completion of the new West Pinnacles Visitor Contact Station in January,2012. Visitors should remember to bring water, snacks, and flashlights when visiting as Western National Parks Association (WNPA) sales will not be available during this period of transition.

For more information on new West Pinnacles facilities and improvements visit the Park Web site.

You Are Invited to Condor Comeback 2011 (08/27/2011)

The Public is Invited to Attend Condor Comeback 2011 at Pinnacles National Monument on Fee-Free National Public Lands Day

The public is invited to attend Condor Comeback 2011 on Saturday, September 24 at Pinnacles National Monument, 80 miles south of San Jose. Up to two young California condors will be released for their first flight into the wild during the release celebration from 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM.

No entrance fee will be charged. Superintendent Karen Beppler-Dorn has scheduled the event to coincide with National Public Lands Day, a day when these fees are waived at all National Park sites.

"This celebration of one of North America's most endangered birds will be a great opportunity to pause and reflect on our relationship to the natural world," said Beppler-Dorn. "There is a lot of restoration work yet to be done, but a great deal has already been learned from bringing the California condor back to the wild."

The event will be held at the Pinnacles Visitor Center near the campground on the east side of the park, accessed from Highway 25 south of Hollister. Car pooling is encouraged since parking is limited and will be on a first come, first served basis.

The Condor Comeback event will feature two large flat panel video display screens that will carry a live, remote video feed from the backcountry condor facility to the visitor center. The public can watch the young condors in the facility pen and the first flight of any released birds. There will be speakers, informational and educational booths staffed by rangers and park partners, an activity booth for children, and a volunteer micro-trash pickup.

The one-year old juvenile condors -- two females and two males -- have been acclimating to their new home in a 20 by 40 foot flight pen at Pinnacles since their arrival in July. At the Comeback event up to two birds may be "soft released" - a technique that allows the juveniles to escape the pen without seeing people. Indeed, the young birds will see other wild condors outside of the pen and can follow and learn from the more experienced birds.

There is a chance that no birds will leave the flight pen on the day of the event, due to the circumstances of a "soft release". There is always a good chance to see wild free flying condors within the park, where 28 have been successfully released in the past. Spotting scopes, binoculars, water, layered clothing, and comfortable hiking shoes are recommended for viewing wild condors.

The juveniles to be released come from the successful captive breeding programs at the Peregrine Fund's World Center of Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho and the Los Angeles Zoo. Other organizations involved in the captive breeding program include the San Diego Wild Zoo Safari Park and the Oregon Zoo.

Program History

Pinnacles first release of juvenile condors began in 2003. This is the eighth release of the endangered birds at Pinnacles. Ultimately, project biologists aim to build a sustainable population of condors breeding in the wild at Pinnacles. The reintroduction of California condors to Pinnacles is a cooperative effort between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Ventana Wildlife Society, and Pinnacles Partnership in collaboration with the California Condor Recovery Program.

Listed as an endangered species in 1973, the California condor population has rebounded from a low of 22 birds in the mid-1980s through intensive captive breeding efforts and rigorous educational programs explaining human-caused threats to condor survival. A key partner, the Institute for Wildlife Studies, conducts outreach to discuss the connection between lead ammunition fragments and scavenger mortalities, including condors and eagles.

As of July 1, 2011, the total world population of California condors was 201 in captivity and 198 in the wild, for a species total of 399.

Further details of the release event are available on the Pinnacles National Monument website or by calling Pinnacles National Monument at 831-389-4486 ext. 267.

National Trails Day This Weekend (06/02/2011)

This weekend, Saturday, June 4th is National Trails Day and we hope to see you there!

Park Trails Supervisor will be directing volunteers in a series of trail projects. The day will be full of satisfying work and general fun. If you have not already done so, it is NOT too late to volunteer. Don't miss this opportunity to "give back" to the Park we all love.

To volunteer contact Tim George any time before the event, but please let him know you are coming so he can plan how to allocate the team.

TRAIL CREW CONTACT:

Tim George (Trails Supervisor)
831-389-4579
Tim_George@nps.gov

Closure of Bear Gulch Cave (05/17/2011)

The upper and lower Bear Gulch cave will be entirely closed from May 15th through July 15th to allow Townsend Big Eared Bats to raise their young. The bats, which are listed by the state of California as a species of special concern, raise their young (pups) and hibernate in the cave. After July 15th, the lower half of the cave will reopen. These dates are tentative depending on the activity of the bats.

When visiting the cave, please remember that it is the home of a sensitive species. To avoid disturbing the bats, please keep voices down. If you happen to see a bat in either of the Park’s caves, please do not disturb it or shine your light directly on it.

The Bear Gulch Cave (closer to the east entrance of the park) and the Balconies Cave (closer to the west entrance) both offer the opportunity to explore a talus cave. Please remember to bring flashlights and wear sturdy shoes. Seasonal streams run through both caves, and the rocks can be slippery when the stream is flowing.

For more information visit the Pinnacles National Monument Web site.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED! June 4th is National Trails Day (05/16/2011)

If you missed the last Volunteer Trail Work Day, here's your opportunity to show your support!

On Saturday, June 4th, Tim George, on behalf of Pinnacles National Monument will be hosting National Trails Day at the park. This is the second "trail work day" Tim is hosting and he has high hopes that many of you can make it out that day.

Tim is planning to work on the East Side this time and tackle tasks ranging from trail clearing to real "rock work." The team will assemble at 8:00 AM at the Trails Workshop and head out for a day of work and fun.

Volunteers will need to bring a lunch, lots of water, sunscreen and GLOVES. Weather will likely be warm to hot, but bring a sweatshirt or windbreaker just in case. Optionally, if you have your own loppers and/or nippers bring them along.

To volunteer contact Tim George any time before the event, but please let him know you are coming so he can plan how to allocate the team.

TRAIL CREW CONTACT:

Tim George (Trails Supervisor)
831-389-4579
Tim_George@nps.gov

Trail Work Day - Success! (04/28/2011)

The first Pinnacles volunteer trail work day was a great success!

Although only four volunteers showed up - Brad, Joe, Nicole & Brooks (we were hoping for more), it turned out to be an advantage since this was the first Trail Day Tim has planned. Tim, along with three other National Park Service rangers (Scott, Patrick & Ted) rounded out our group and we all got a feel for how these events can work.

Our group met at about 8am, we chose our weapons...er...tools, and then, as a bonus, we hiked the beautiful Old Pinnacles Trail across the park to our work area for the day: the trail to The Citadel. The weather was perfect - not too hot, not too cold.

Once there we whacked weeds, cut back encroaching bushes, removed downed trees, cleared rock fall, avoided poison oak, and generally had fun. Everybody pitched in enthusiastically, and the trail was cleared and much more usable in surprisingly short order.

Building on the success of this outing, Tim is planning more volunteer-powered trail work days, and has many projects in mind for future groups. So, those of you who couldn't make it this time around... DON'T MISS OUT! We will have more opportunities to get involved in the future!

FOP will let you know as the proposed June Trail Work days approach.

Details for April 23rd Trail Work Day (04/17/2011)

We have the final details for the April 23rd Trail Work Day

Tim George, Trails Supervisor, has provided details for the Trail Work Day:

Day: Sat, Aril 23rd
Time: 8 to 8:30 AM
Where: Park Trails Shop

It is important that all volunteers show up between 8 and 8:30 AM. We will be dividing into several groups, so it would be difficult to join the teams after they have departed the trails shop.

We will meet at the trails shop where there is ample parking and we can more easily gather and distribute the tools.

If you need directions to the Trails Shop, please contact Tim directly or FOP.

Tim has several projects in mind that should work well with the variety of individuals coming. You can gear up for brushing trails, digging some water drains and possibly clearing downed trees. These projects will occur on the main trails as well as climber access and wilderness trails as well.

Remember:

If you have your own gloves and safety glasses, please bring them. If you don't have safety glasses, an old pair of sunglasses will suffice.

The Park has tools, but if you have garden nippers or loppers you don't mind bringing, that would be great.

Bring a lunch and plenty of water. Sun screen may also come in handy.

We should be done by 4:00PM.

TRAIL CREW CONTACT:

Tim George (Trails Supervisor)
831-389-4579
Tim_George@nps.gov

California Condor Egg Hatches in Pinnacles National Monument (04/03/2011)

Biologists have verified the hatching of a condor egg inside Pinnacles National Monument. As expected, adult male condor #318 and adult female #317 are currently taking turns tending to the young nestling.

Unlike the California condor nest in the park in 2010, this year's site is at a remote, not easily accessible location. There are no plans for public viewing opportunities at the nest.

The species can live to be around 50 years old and has one of the longest nesting cycles among birds. Young condors spend 5 1/2 to 6 months in the nest before taking their first flight in the autumn.

The same breeding pair, #318 and #317, was in the news in 2010 when they nested inside Pinnacles National Monument. During a routine health check of the nestling they were tending, biologists discovered the chick had a high blood lead value. The chick was evacuated from the nest and taken to the Los Angeles Zoo for veterinary care.

Now known as condor #550, the young bird's blood lead levels improved during treatment last summer and is now being raised with other juveniles being prepared for release to the wild. The nestling turned 1 year old on March 24.

Research by scientists at UC Santa Cruz indicates spent lead-based ammunition is responsible for roughly 90 percent of lead poisoning events in condors. Preliminary testing using the same isotopic fingerprinting techniques suggests the source of lead exposure to #550 and her male parent #318 was something different. Final results are expected later this year.

Because adult condors sometimes bring small bits of litter (microtrash) to their nestlings, presumably mistaking them for bone or shell fragments, potential trash sources are being investigated such as paint chips, plastic pieces, washers, electrical components, and bottle caps.

Preliminary results suggest there may be a link between the lead poisoning of condor #550 and microtrash brought to the nest last year by the parents. The National Park Service supports reducing all potential sources of lead exposure in the environment and is taking proactive, precautionary measures to remove lead paint from an historic fire tower located in the park.

Biologists will continue to monitor the current nest and are developing plans for release of additional captive-reared condors in the autumn, at a similar time of year when the birds fledge in the wild. Current plans include releasing condor #550 back to the wild in September or October.
For more information on the Pinnacles condor program, please visit the Pinnacles National Monument Web site.

History of the California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus)

Condors maintained a strong population in the American West until the mid-19th century, when shooting, marine mammal population declines, egg collecting, and habitat degradation began to take a heavy toll. Between the mid-1880s and 1924, there were scattered reports of condors in Arizona. But by the late 1930s, all remaining condors were found only in California and by the early 1980s, the total population had dwindled to just 22 birds.

As a result of the continued downward spiral of the condor population, the California condor was placed on the federal endangered species list in 1967. In the early 1980s, an intensive captive breeding program rescued the species from extinction and in the 1990s reestablishment efforts began in southern California. Since that time, four other release sites have also been launched.

The current world population of California condors numbers 369. Ninety-nine birds are flying free in California, twenty in Baja Mexico, and seventy-three in Arizona. An additional 177 are in captive breeding centers.

Partners in Recovery

There are currently five condor release sites in western North America - Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge operated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Pinnacles National Monument operated by the National Park Service, Big Sur Coast operated by the Ventana Wildlife Society, Vermillion Cliffs operated by the Peregrine Fund, and El Parque Nacional San Pedro Mártir in Baja California - a joint venture of the Zoological Society of San Diego and several Mexican agencies and organizations.

There are four captive rearing facilities involved in Condor Recovery - The Los Angeles Zoo, The San Diego Wild Animal Park, The Oregon Zoo, and the Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho.

Santa Barbara Zoo additional has captive condors on display and assists he US Fish and Wildlife Service with monitoring of nesting activity in Southern California.

Upcoming Trail Work - Volunteers Needed (03/31/2011)

We just heard that the Park is putting together a volunteer trail work day. Currently the event is scheduled for Saturday, April 23rd. Work is generally moderately strenuous and can range from light clearing to serious digging and heavy lifting.

If you would like to volunteer, please contact the Trails Supervisor (Tim George).

Construction in Progress on New West Side Visitor Center (03/21/2011)

The National Park Service, an agency of the Department of the Interior, has awarded an $8.5 million contract under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) to Anderson-Burton Construction, Inc, a general contracting company based in Arroyo Grande, CA.

The company will perform site preparation and grading; make improvements to existing park roads, paved vehicular service roads and parking, and utilities infrastructures (storm water, domestic water, sewer, power and telephone/network conduit). The contractor will also design and build a visitor contact station, integrating active and passive solar technologies; an entry station; maintenance/fire/EMS building; and maintenance yard. The entire project is off-grid and a photovoltaic (PV) system will power the facilities and use a roof-mounted array on the maintenance structure. The project is expected to be completed by the end of December 2011.

Motorists on State Highway 146 from Soledad to the west side of Pinnacles National Monument may experience an increase in traffic while equipment and supplies are delivered to the project site during the work week (Monday through Friday).

"We encourage motorists to be alert as they may encounter trucks on Highway 146 traveling to the project site. With the State Highway being so narrow in so many places there is a good chance motorists may have to wait for larger vehicles to pass. We realize this is a temporary interruption to what is typically a very quiet drive." Said Karen Beppler-Dorn, Park Superintendent.

Existing visitor facilities in the Chaparral Area will remain open until the new facilities are ready for occupancy. Feel welcome to visit Pinnacles

Opening of the Bear Gulch Cave (03/14/2011)

The Bear Gulch Cave at Pinnacles National Monument will be completely open for the month of March. After March 31st, only the lower half of the cave will remain open for the remainder of the spring.

The cave is open each March and October for at least one and up to four weeks, depending on the presence of a colony of Townsend’s Big-eared bats. The bats, which are listed by the state of California as a species of special concern, raise their young (pups) and hibernate in the cave.

The entire cave will be closed from May 15th through July 15th to allow the bats to raise their young. After July 15th, the lower half of the cave will reopen. These dates are tentative depending on the activity of the bats.

When visiting the cave, please remember that it is the home of a sensitive species. To avoid disturbing the bats, please keep voices down. If you happen to see a bat in either of the Park’s caves, please do not disturb it or shine your light directly on it.

The Bear Gulch Cave (closer to the east entrance of the park) and the Balconies Cave (closer to the west entrance) both offer the opportunity to explore a talus cave. Please remember to bring flashlights and wear sturdy shoes. Seasonal streams run through both caves, and the rocks can be slippery when the stream is flowing.

2011 Climbing Advisories Starting January 18th (01/13/2011)

Annual measures to protect nesting raptors of Pinnacles National Monument will be reinstated as of January 18, 2011, according to Park Superintendent Karen Beppler-Dorn. Last year 7 pairs of prairie falcons produced a total of 27 fledglings. Additionally, the monument had successful nesting by Peregrine Falcons, American Kestrels, Red-tailed Hawks, Red-shouldered Hawks, Cooper's Hawks, and Sharp-shinned Hawks. Park researchers will continue to monitor raptors to better understand these interesting and beautiful birds. "We ask you to refrain from any off-trail hiking and climbing in sensitive areas which include the High Peaks, the Balconies Cliffs area, Machete Ridge, Citadel, Goat Rock, Little Pinnacles, Pipsqueak Pinnacles, Egg Rock/Teapot Dome, and the Scout Peak area," said Beppler-Dorn. "Without your cooperation in avoiding the advisory areas, this program could not be the success that it is," Beppler-Dorn continued.

The specific locations of these sensitive areas can be found on information boards at trailheads, at the visitor centers, on the Park Web site, on the Friends of Pinnacles Closure Listings or by calling (831)-389-4486.

For more information regarding the monument's raptor monitoring program, please call the office of Research and Resource Management at 831-389-4486 extension 270.

2011 Climbing Closures Update (01/10/2011)

Hey All -

As we approach the beginning of 2011, I wanted to give you all a heads-up about initial raptor advisories at Pinnacles beginning in January. There will be a couple of changes for 2011 that should be good news for folks.

First off, I have lobbied to start up advisories on the day after MLK Day. In past years we have traditionally had advisories go into effect on the Thursday before MLK Day, but this then prevents climbers from being able to use cliff routes on the extended weekend. So this year the advisories will go into effect on Tuesday, January 18th instead. Keep in mind that falcons are just starting to set up nesting territories at this time of year, so please be respectful if you're climbing and any raptors start alarm-calling or stooping at you... Too much disturbance at the beginning of the season can lead to falcon pairs abandoning areas.

The other good news has to do with what areas will initially be under advisory. Generally broad raptor advisories will still be in effect as you might expect, but there are a few areas that will be open to start with - Frog, Hand, Gargoyle, Piedras Bonitas, Knuckle Ridge, etc. Prairie falcons have not tried to nest at these areas in the last 5 years, and our protocol is to open them up to use at the beginning of the year if this is the case. Of course, if falcons do try to occupy and nest at one of these formations, I will have to put an advisory into effect accordingly. But at least initially, this should give folks a chance to get out climbing at these areas early in the year.

Gavin Emmons
Raptor / Condor Biologist

Construction Begins on New West Side Visitor Center (12/01/2010)

The construction of the new West Side Visitor Center and Operation Facilities will actively begin on-site work starting the week of December 6, 2010. The project is being funded from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) and is expected to be completed by the end of December 2011.

The primary purpose of the project is to relocate flood prone visitor and maintenance facilities and staff housing away from the sensitive riparian habitat within the Chaparral Area and closer to the park's west boundary. The new facilities will provide increased visitor services while incorporating the latest in environmentally supporting technologies. Trailhead parking and picnic facilities will remain at the Chaparral Area at the end of the project.

Existing visitor facilities in the Chaparral Area will remain open until the new facilities are ready for occupancy. Visitors may experience intermittent short delays along the park roads during construction work days (Monday through Friday).

The contract for approximately $6 million was awarded in May 2010 to Anderson-Burton Construction, Inc., a general contracting company located in Arroyo Grande, CA. They have assembled a diverse team of experts who have facilitated the design of eco-conscious facilities. Anderson-Burton Construction, Inc. has been actively working with National Park Service staff at Pinnacles and the Design Service Center in Denver, Colorado to incorporate protection of park resources and provide high-quality visitor exhibits at the new visitor center project. The new facilities will be off-grid, powered by a photovoltaic (PV) system with a roof-mounted solar array on the maintenance facility.

Under the Recovery Act, the National Park Service is investing in the conservation of America's treasures, the diversity of stunning natural landscapes and for generations to come. With unprecedented transparency and accountability, the public can now follow the progress of this project and a full listing of National Park Service Recovery Act projects on www.recovery.gov and on www.interior.gov/recovery.

Feel welcome to visit Pinnacles or our website at for more specific information about the park.

Scout Peak Outhouse Temporary Closure (10/27/2010)

Pinnacles National Monument - November 3-5, 2010, the Scout Peak outhouse on the High Peaks trail, will be periodically closed for up to 20 minute intervals for maintenance and cleaning. Work will be assisted by helicopter operations, for hauling materials, so the adjacent area will also close during these intervals. "The park will attempt to keep closure time to a minimum to reduce any inconveniences and asks for everyone's patience to insure a safe operation," explained Denise Louie, acting Superintendent.

Currently one side of the outhouse is closed for staging materials for the actual work to be performed in November.

The Scout Peak outhouse is part of the legacy from when the Civilian Conservation Corps were stationed at the park during the period of 1933 through 1942. Most of the stone buildings and rock work visitors find in the park were built with that program.

General park information can be obtained by visiting our Web site or by calling 831-389-4485.

Tourist Trap Restoration Completed (08/23/2010)

Tim George and the Trail Crew at Pinnacles have completed work at the Tourist Trap climbing area. The work included:

  • Closing down of at least 3 small, though very damaging social trails that were created from years of use that were improperly designed
  • The construction of a new, more sustainable trail route to the climbing area
  • A belay platform was constructed to make it more safe for folks belaying near the route "Pickpocket".

Tim indicated that this was less work than he was hoping to achieve, but he will continue to get input from the climbing community to see what we can continue to work on. "My plan, is to attack the upper portion of this area next year or whenever possible. I encourage folks to come on down and check out the area and feedback is always appreciated."

Tim reminds us all that the single best deterrent to erosion is staying on the designated trails. Tim added, "As of now, the area looks pretty bare due to the damage we did during reconstruction. Though it looks ok right now, by next spring the area will be growing back very rapidly and look great! I appreciate everyone's input in the last couple months and hopefully this fall we can get a volunteer weekend project together and have a blast restoring some of these trails."

We here at FOP want to extend our appreciation for all the work that Tim and the Crew are putting in to keep areas open and safe for all of us.

Bravo!
Tourist Trap Restoration Pictures <click thumbnails to enlarge - popup blockers may prevent these from displaying>
The Before Shot New Approach Stairs Stairs to Pickpocket
The "before" shot New approch stairs Stairs to Pickpocket

Volunteers Wanted (07/26/2010)

Tim George (Trails Supervisor) is seeking volunteers to assist with the trail maintenance/restoration projects. If you are interested, please contact him directly and let him know you general availability over the next few weeks.

Email Tim George

Tourist Trap Closure (07/01/2010)

The Tourist Trap formation on the East Side of Pinnacles is closed until the end of July for restoration. The Trails Crew will be working to repair, rehab, and restore some of the lower access trail at the site.

The Park hopes to begin restoration of multiple access trails at heavily used climbing areas, starting with Tourist Trap this year and hopefully extending to Discovery Wall and beyond in upcoming years. The Trails Crew work will help stabilize some of the climber access areas that have been degraded through erosion and heavy traffic over time.

Opportunities to volunteer to assist with the trail work may be possible. Contact Trail Supervisor Tim George if you are interested in volunteering.

Climbing Closures Update (06/02/2010)

There has not been a official announcement as of this posting, but the emergency closure of Resurrection Wall imposed to protect nesting Condors has been lifted along with several other regularly closed areas.

While the lifting of closures is normally good news for us climbers, in this case the action has been predicated on a rather sad occurrence. Those of you who have been following the events surrounding the first naturally occurring Condor nest in the park for over 100 years are already aware that the male Condor had to be evacuated and treated for lead poisoning. Since then it has been determined that the nestling also had very high lead levels in its blood. Both birds have been evacuated to the Los Angeles zoo for treatment. Needless to say, the nest is no longer viable for the season.

Our heart goes out to all those individuals in and related to the Park Service who have work so hard to give this Condor pair and their nestling every possible opportunity. Let us hope for great successes in the future.

You can send comments and best wishes to the Park through Raptor Biologist Gavin Emmons.

Prescribed Burns Planned at Pinnacles for June and in Fall (06/01/2010)

Fire Management staff at Pinnacles National Monument plan to burn 10 acres in the previously burned Entrance Meadow the week of June 13 and an additional 5 acres in McCabe Canyon later this fall, if weather conditions allow. No road or trail closures are anticipated, however, please use extra caution when driving or hiking if smoke is present. Appropriate wind, temperature, relative humidity, and atmospheric pressure will ensure safe and effective prescribed fire operations with good smoke dispersion. The 2 areas to be burned are along Highway 146 inside of the park’s east boundary.

The Entrance Meadow burn is to control yellow star thistle, an invasive, non-native plant. Timing will be dependent on plant flowering, to kill the plants before new seeds are produced. About 12 million acres in California are invaded with this aggressive weed. Three consecutive years of burning, in combination with other integrated plant management techniques, can effectively control yellow star-thistle. Prescribed fire can treat large areas quickly. Burning at the right time of year will greatly reduce the number of seeds that the plants will be able to produce. Fire also recycles nutrients back into the soil, and burns off dead mulch which stimulates the growth of native plants such as lupine, California poppies and perennial grasses.

The 5 acre McCabe Canyon burn later this fall will stimulate the healthy growth of deer grass stands which are naturally and culturally significant to the park and local Native American tribes.

Safety is the foremost objective in all fire management activities. Prescribed fire is only conducted when the windspeed is low and the air is not too dry. Weather readings will be taken every hour or more during the burn. If an unforcasted weather event creates unfavorable conditions, the burn will be shut down. Extra firefighters and engines will also be on hand as an added precaution.

Burning requires approval from the air quality district to prevent any major smoke impacts on the airshed. Smoke particles may settle with cool air at night and create a trace of haze the morning after burning. If this happens, it will lift as the day warms.

To receive an email when the burn day is confirmed, contact the park at 831-389-4486 x222 or email Denise Louie.

Wild Condor Chick Evacuated from Pinnacles National Monument due to Lead Exposure (05/14/2010)

Pinnacles National Monument –
Condor biologists at Pinnacles National Monument and Ventana Wildlife Society tracking the health of a wild condor nestling (chick) in the park discovered last week that the bird had extremely high levels of lead in its blood. Park Service biologists then trapped the parent male, condor 318, and discovered he also has toxic levels of lead in his blood.

The adult condor was immediately taken to the Los Angeles Zoo for chelation (a treatment to remove lead from the body) while the 50-day old chick was treated by veterinarians and condor biologists in the nest during early morning climbs into the rocky cliff cavern.

Although the adult female continued to care for its young and the nestling received several emergency chelation and hydrating fluid injections, the young condor’s health degraded further. As a result, biologists decided yesterday that, for the survival of the nestling, it needed to be evacuated for intensive care.

National Park Service and Ventana Wildlife Society biologists are trying to trap the adult female of this pair to determine if she too has been exposed to lead.

Hundreds of park visitors over the past two months have enjoyed the rare opportunity to witness an active condor nest in the wild. For those interested in expressing thoughts on this story, please visit the Pinnacles National Monument website, and use the “Contact Us” link.

This condor nest was the first inside Pinnacles National Monument since re-establishment efforts began there in 2003 and the first documented nest in the park in over one hundred years.

Pinnacles National Monument will keep the temporary closure area around the nest in place until biologists determine whether the nestling can be returned to the wild.

Additional Facts

  • Parent Condor 318 was originally released along the Big Sur coast by Ventana Wildlife Society, while parent condor 317 was released at Pinnacles National Monument.
  • The National Park Service and Ventana Wildlife Society collaborate to manage the central California flock of 52 condors.
  • More information on the National Park Service program can be found on our Web site
  • More information on Ventana Wildlife Society’s program can be found on their Web site
  • Chelation is a process used in condors in which calcium EDTA, a chemical that binds with heavy metals, is injected into the animals to prevent retention of lead in the tissues.
  • Condors are exclusively scavengers, feeding on a wide range of dead mammals.
  • Hunting plays a key role in the condor ecology by generating food resources for these critically endangered scavengers.
  • Prior research has established that the principle source of lead exposures among condors is lead ammunition.
  • Shooters who have made the switch to non-lead ammunition have made an invaluable contribution to the health of scavenging wildlife.
  • Lead Ammunition has been banned in a wide region of central and southern California
  • There are four captive rearing facilities involved in Condor Recovery – The Los Angeles Zoo, The San Diego Wild Animal Park, The Oregon Zoo, and the Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho
  • There are five condor release sites in western North America – Pinnacles National Monument operated by the National Park Service, Big Sur Coast operated by the Ventana Wildlife Society, Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge operated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Vermillion Cliffs operated by the Peregrine Fund, and El Parque Nacional San Pedro Mártir in Baja California – a joint venture of the Zoological Society of San Diego and several Mexican agencies and organizations.
  • Video information related to condor recovery efforts at Pinnacles National Monument can be found on our Web site

Experience Your America

The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage.

First Condor Chick Hatches at Pinnacles National Monument in Over 100 Years (04/06/2010)

Biologists at Pinnacles National Monument have verified the successful hatching of a condor egg inside the monument. The young nestling is the first California condor known to hatch in the monument in over 100 years. Two seven year old condors, condor 317, a female released at the monument in 2004, and a male, condor 318, released along the Big Sur coast by Ventana Wildlife Society were seen in courtship displays during the winter and paired up for their first breeding attempt.

National Park Service Wildlife Biologist, Daniel George, reports that the first-time parent condors have been exhibiting normal behavior, regularly feeding and incubating the new nestling. The milestone highlights regional efforts to bring the condor back from the brink of extinction. "It is really great to see a condor that we have invested so much time and effort in, now breeding in the wild," said Joe Burnett, Condor Biologist of Ventana Wildlife Society.

"We are thrilled that after being involved with the Condor Recovery Program since 2003, the park has its first condor chick from the first nest in over 100 years," said Eric Brunnemann, Park Superintendent. "... and conveniently Condors 317 and 318 chose a nest cave that can be easily viewed by the public from the Scout Peak bench on the High Peaks Trail," continued Brunnemann. Although the areas directly around the nest cliff will be closed to public use for the duration of the nesting period, public viewing is still possible. The strenuous hike to the viewing area is approximately two miles from the closest East or West Side parking areas. From the west, the elevation gain is approximately 1100 feet, and from the east it is over 1200 feet. Please ask in park Visitor Centers for more complete directions to the viewing area.

A temporary closure area around the nest cliff is in effect during the 2010 breeding season. An area extending from Western Front to Goat Rock and north to the edge of the Juniper Canyon Trail will be closed to protect the nesting birds. The Juniper Canyon and High Peaks trails remain open. Park visitors interested in off trail activities within the Monument should consult with a park ranger for specific guidance. Violation of this emergency closure is punishable by a fine of not more than $500 or imprisonment for not exceeding six months, or both (36 CFR §1.5(f) or 16 U.S.C §§1531-1543).

Biologists will be closely monitoring the nest throughout the breeding cycle. Nestlings remain flightless for an additional 5½ to 6 months. Park Service biologists expect that if the new parents succeed in rearing the young condor, it would take its first flight in early October.

History of the Pinnacles Condor Program

Pinnacles National Monument was chosen as a California condor release site due to historical documentation of condors in the area, good cliff nesting opportunities, and large expanses of intact habitat in the region.

There have been six groups of condors released at Pinnacles National Monument, bringing the current total to 26 free-flying condors. 2009 marked the first year that a Pinnacles released condor nested. Condor 313 paired with Condor 303 who laid an egg in a rocky outcrop at the RS Bar Guest Ranch in southern San Benito County. Although Condor 303 died before her nestling took his first flight, the juvenile survived and continues to fly over San Benito County. With the approval of the National Park Service and others involved in the condor recovery effort, the owners and operators of the RS Bar Guest Ranch formed an unprecedented relationship with the Pinnacles Partnership, a nonprofit organization supporting the monument, so visitors could have the opportunity to take guided trips to the remote nest site, where the nesting pair and their offspring could frequently be viewed for extended periods.

National Park Biologists are working with partners at the Ventana Wildlife Society and community volunteers to build a self sustaining population of condors in central California over the next several years. This will contribute to one of the US Fish and Wildlife Service Recovery Plan goals by establishing a population in California of 150 or more condors with at least 15 breeding pairs.

History of the California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus) Condors maintained a strong population in the American West until the mid-19th century, when shooting, poisoning from lead and strychnine, egg collecting, and general habitat degradation began to take a heavy toll. Between the mid-1880s and 1924, there were scattered reports of condors in Arizona. But by the late 1930s, all remaining condors were found only in California and the mid 1980's, the total population had dwindled to just 22 birds.

As a result of the continued downward spiral of the condor population, the California condor was placed on the federal endangered species list in 1967. In the early 1980s, an intensive captive breeding program rescued the species from extinction and in the 1990s reestablishment efforts began in southern California. Since that time, release sites have also been launched in northern Arizona, along the Big Sur coast, at Pinnacles National Monument, and on the Baja Peninsula in Mexico.

The current world population of California condors numbers 347. Ninety-four birds are flying free in California, seventeen in Baja Mexico, and seventy-three in Arizona. An additional 163 are in captive breeding centers.

Challenges to Condor Recovery For recovery of an endangered species to succeed, it is necessary to change the conditions that lead to their decline. Egg and feather collecting is no longer a significant threat, the effects of DDT are likely to diminish over the coming century, and poisoning of bait carcasses for predator control is no longer an established practice.

The primary threat remaining to California condor recovery is lead poisoning. Condors inadvertently ingest lead bullet fragments when animal carcasses, or their gut piles, shot with lead ammunition remain on the landscape. For this reason, the California legislature outlawed the use of lead ammunition for big game hunting and depredation within the condor's range.

Partners in Recovery The reestablishment of California condors to Pinnacles is a cooperative effort between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Ventana Wildlife Society, the Institute for Wildlife Studies, Pinnacles Partnership, and community volunteers.

The San Diego Wild Animal Park, Los Angeles Zoo, the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho, and the Oregon Zoo breed condors destined for release in California, Arizona, and Baja, Mexico. The Pinnacles condor release site is an important link in the overall condor recovery effort.

Further details of the program are available on the Pinnacles National Monument website or by calling Pinnacles National Monument at (831) 389-4485.

Emergency Closure Announced - Resurrection Wall (04/05/2010)

Emergency Closure for Condor Nesting

2010 Emergency
Condor Closure
Tarantula
Map of the closure area
<click to enlarge>
The area within the following boundary is closed to public access for the protection of wildlife:

  • From the summit of the Goat Rock formation (UTM E660722, N4038501) west following an unnamed ridge to a point due south of the Western Front rock formation (UTM E660328, N4038999)
  • From the Western Front rock formation north (UTM E660328, N4038999) and northeast, encompassing the Resurrection Wall formation to a junction with the Juniper Canyon Trail (UTM E660800, N4039401), 1/3 mi from the Juniper Canyon trailhead)
  • Along the southern side of the Juniper Canyon Trail to a junction with a ridgeline extending due north from the Goat Rock formation (UTM E660956, N4039214)
  • Extending south along the ridgeline to the summit of the Goat Rock formation.

The Resurrection Wall and Western Front formations, and the west face of Goat Rock are closed. The Juniper Canyon trail and the east face of Goat Rock remain open. All current raptor advisory areas remain in effect.

Signage has been posted at strategic locations.

Violation of this emergency closure (36 CFR 1.5(f)) or 16 U.S.C 1531-1543 is punishable by a fine of not more than $500 or imprisonment for not exceeding six months, or both.

Park Opens Nexus/Sexus Area Early (03/26/2010)

In yet another example of how attentive the Park has been to the climbing community, the Park has opened several formations normally closed during the raptor closure season.

Areas recently removed from the closures list include:

  • North end Balconies climbs from Digger to Plexus, including Knifeblade
  • The Citadel
  • The Sponge
  • Beak Peak
  • Generation Gap
  • Gargoyle
  • The Frog (The Hand & The Thumb remain CLOSED)

Note: It is confirmed that Condors are nesting in the Resurrection Wall area and this will keep Resurrection and Western Front closed for quite a while.

For the Parks latest, detailed closures listing check out their Advisory Handout

Critical Update Information

While the Park has reopened some routes on the Balconies, please be aware that there are active nesting areas in the Balconies West and Crowley Towers area. Please do NOT approach or descend via trails that pass by or through these areas. Either rappel your route or descend the 165' rappel from the top of Hook and Drill.

Latest 'New' Routes List (03/24/2010)

FOP is working on adding this information to our route listings, but until that time here is a comprehensive list of routes documented since the release of Brad Young's recent guide book.

This list was originally posted on the MudnCrud forum.

East Side:

  • 24.1 The Road To Bagalaar 5.8 R
Start at the large arete just right of Bushwackin Dave. A first bolt is visible 12 feet up the arete. Continue up loose rock to the 2nd bolt which protects the 5.8 crux moves. From there look for a large knob; it is just above the 3rd bolt. Use a small (and marginal) nut placement in a flake 10 feet above the 3rd bolt (this is a horizontal placement in good rock - a long runner can also be slung around a knob out left, and the two equalized). Climbing above the nut is on good rock with a committing step left to a pocket and a mantle to a ledge. The climbing above the nut is run out 5.7. A two bolt, anchor with painted chain can be seen in the orange headwall above (good rock, both bolts are 3.25 inch x 3/8 inch Rawl 5-Piece). Further information: first bolt placed on stance: 2.75 inch x 3/8 inch Rawl 5-piece; second bolt placed from hooks: 3.25 inch x 3/8 inch Rawl 5-piece; third bolt placed from hooks: 2.75 inch x 3/8 inch Rawl 5-piece. FA party: Josh Mucci, Fabrizio Bittner, others.
FA Date: January 17, 2009. Source(s): Emails from and discussion with Josh Mucci.
  • 74.5 Jorgie Swallows 5.10d R
Start on Swallow Crack, but, when partway up, move a little right, to and then up an overhanging arete/right-facing dihedral (a bit of both). This, the "R" rated crux of the route, involves interesting pinches and some finger crack. Protection here is possible, but not good. Join Jorgie's Continuation just below its crux bolt. Finish up that climb.
FA: Gavin Emmons. FA Date: June 6, 2009. Source(s): Postings to MudnCrud Forum, June, 2009.
  • 92.9 Gavin's Tangent 5.10a **
Start on Stupendous Man. From the ledge above the mantle section of that route, move up and slightly left to a single bolt. From that bolt, move up to an obvious corner/arch which allows a side-cling/under-cling leftward (good gear here, one to two inches). Clip the last bolt on Lithium and finish on that route.
FA (of entire route as a free pitch): Probably Gavin Emmons. FA Date: March 5, 2009. Source(s): Postings to MudnCrud Forum, May, 2009. Additional sources: Consensus as to rating, stars, and quality of protection among climbers who climbed it March 20, 2010, including Brad Young, Alan Nilsson, Steve Dawson, "Jet," and about three others. On that date there were five separate leads of the route, and also several toprope ascents.
  • 336.9 The Frog - True Summit 5.4
The Frog's actual summit appears to have been climbed (probably years ago, to reach the high point). Move 75 feet up South Side Shuffle to an oak tree. Twenty feet farther look for a slot on the left. Walk up this slot 20 feet to the base of a bulge. A few moves of fifth class up and left across the bulge and into an obvious, watermelon size hole lead to easy ground. No summit anchor.
FA Party: Unknown. FA Date: Unknown. Source(s): Brad Young, Bob Walton, Josh Mucci, Jennifer Wang, inspection and ascent of route, November 15, 2008.
  • 352.2 Tadpole Rock - East Face 5.7 X
Tadpole Rock is the obvious formation 100 yards northwest of The Frog. Its north face is steep to quite steep. The lower angle, long, east face has two older bolts making an anchor on top (and, now, that anchor has a third, newer bolt). The face has an "alluvial fan" shape. Start at the left side of the base of this face, left of an oak tree. Climb up and right, on an easy but getting-harder slab (5.6). Continue 70 feet to one bolt which protects crux moves over a steeper bulge.
FA Party: Unknown. FA Date: Unknown. Source(s): Brad Young, Bob Walton, Jennifer Wang, Josh Mucci, inspection and ascent, November 15, 2008.
  • 352.8 Brown Rice and Boogers 5.7 *
This route is on the far right (west) end of the north face of Tadpole Rock. Four bolts protect 65 feet of climbing. A few moves from the ground lead to an obvious hole in the rock. The first bolt can be clipped while standing in this hole. Two more bolts protect climbing straight up. After the third bolt the angle of the rock declines. One more bolt protects climbing to a two bolt anchor on top of the formation. Walk off to the southwest. FA Party: Brad and Tricia Young, Alan Nilsson.
FA Date: December 9, 2009. Source(s): Self, part of the first ascent party.
  • 364.1 Flue Fire 5.10d * (FA party called 5.10+)
Bolted line 60 feet right of/around corner from Chimney Sweep. Three bolts in a scoop/water chute (third bolt is hard to see - look up and left from second bolt). Crux is passing obvious bulge. A fourth bolt protects easier climbing to the top of the formation (which climbing is done left of that fourth bolt). Shares a one bolt top anchor with Chimney Sweep (they merge toward the top).
FA Party: John Barbella, Jim McConachie, Bill McConachie, Dennis Erik S. FA Date: May 4, 2008. Source(s): Discussion with Jim McConachie; also Brad Young, Joe Denicola attempt at climbing.
  • 454.9 The Royal Flush 5.10b**
This route is on Casino Rock. It starts left of Crap Chute in a steep and prominent water chute (this feature is shown on the topo in the book on page 181). Fifteen feet up the chute is a fixed pin on the right. Above that, medium cams can be placed in holes leading up to the first bolt (take a few 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inch pieces). A steep bulge (5.9) through pockets gains the second bolt. Three more bolts lead to the route crux, a difficult, but well protected bulge (5.10b). The chute becomes low angle above the crux, quickly dropping the climbing to class four. Continue to belay at trees at the top of the chute. All bolts were placed with hooks and are 3/8 inch by 3 inch. This route is definitely one of the best in Condor Gulch.
FA Party: Fabrizio Bittner, Josh Mucci. FA Date: March 17, 2010. Source(s): Emails and photos by Josh Mucci, March 18, 2010; ascent of route by Brad Young and Jim Lundeen, March 21, 2010.
  • 457.8 Blackjack 5.9
This route is on Casino Rock, 200 feet right of High Stakes Breaks. Start in an obvious, dark, water streak (the streak can be seen in the photo on page 180 of the guidebook). Climb in the water streak (5.7 and 5.8, with some wild stemming) which takes some good gear to just below a bolt which is 60 feet off the ground. Move right onto a loose shelf from which the bolt can be clipped. A well protected, but intimidating 5.9 mantle/bulge leads to easy climbing and then to very easy climbing. Pass under a large chockstone before reaching a tree (belay here). Walk off. Pro: Very small to four inch (the four inch piece is critical), including extra one and two inch. The one bolt was placed with aid. It is a stainless steel, 3/8 inch Rawl.
FA Party: Fabrizio Bittner, Josh Mucci. FA Date: November 9, 2009. Source(s): Email describing route from Josh Mucci; also, Brad Young ascent of route, March 21, 2010.

West Side

  • 640.1 The Wolf 5.7 R
Start as for The Lamb, on The Shepherd. Clip the bolt on that route and immediately move right up a (different) low angle chute aiming for a large lodestone 20 feet above. Small gear (a bomber small/medium nut and a small cam) can be placed on the right side of the lodestone. Continue straight up 12 feet to a good stance and a second bolt. Fifteen feet of sustained, and run out 5.7 leads to a mantle onto a large block (The Microwave Mantle). A third bolt is five feet above the block. Move slightly right and then up to a stance just below a headwall. Clip a fourth bolt (it is six feet above the third bolt, but it is in a scoop, and is invisible from the start). The route ends where it connects to the normal Shepherd walk-off. One bolt was placed for an anchor. It is on the "walk-off" side of the sub-pinnacle near where the route ends. Use it with body-position for a belay. All bolts are Rawl Five Piece, 3/8 inch x 3 1/4 inch; all were placed from stance.
FA Party: Josh Mucci (roped solo). FA Date: February 20 2009. Source(s): Emails from first ascentionist.
  • 709.1 Crowley Tower - Tower Five - The 200 Pound Club 5.0
The north side of Tower Five is a broad, low angle face. The standard, class two route is on the right (west) edge of this face. This newer class four route ascends a clean water chute in the middle of that face (about 50 feet to the left/east of the class two route). Forty five feet, no protection. FA Party: Tyler Martin and Josh Mucci (simultaneous free solo).
FA Date: January 10, 2010. Source(s): Discussion with first ascent parties; subsequent ascent of route.
  • 709.91 Balconies Bumps - Second Bump Fourth Class
The Balconies Bumps are a series of small to medium size pinnacles located between The Crowley Towers and the upper edge of the upper tier of The Balconies. Use the same approach as for the towers, but 200 yards before (north) of them, at an obvious saddle in a low ridge, stop. Turn away from the towers at this point, sharply right (south). The Balconies Bumps are to the south, spread out in an area 100 to 200 yards away. This route is on the south face of the north-most significant bump (the one closest to The Crowley Towers; there is one bump farther north but it is only 10 feet high). Start from the notch on the south side of this pinnacle. Climb 25 feet to the summit. Descend by downclimbing. The summit has also been reached from other sides of the bump.
FA Party: Unknown, possibly Robert Behrens. FA Date: Unknown, possibly December 28, 2009. Source(s): Posting to MudnCrud Forum December 29, 2009; subsequent inspection and ascent of route with first ascent author.
  • 709.92 Balconies Bumps - Balconies Balls 5.3
This route is on the north face of the next bump south of the class four route on Balconies Bump -Second Bump (the routes start in the same notch, "back to back," four feet from each other). Climb an obvious, quite knobby face 25 feet to the summit. Walk off.
FA Party: Unknown, possibly Robert Behrens. FA Date: Unknown, possibly December 28, 2009. Source(s): Posting to MudnCrud Forum December 29, 2009; subsequent inspection and ascent of route with first ascent author.
  • 709.93 The 800 Club 5.7 *
This route is in a water chute on the east face of a large pinnacle 50 yards south of Balconies Bump - South Route (this is also 150 yards south of the lowest point on the ridge which is between The Crowley Towers and the top of The Balconies). The face is 75 feet high (this is one of the tallest of The Balconies Bumps; it is also the east-most bump). Climb the obvious shallow and steepening water chute; two pieces of gear to three inches protect easy moves to the first bolt. Continue past two more bolts to a low angle, run-out class four finish. Two anchor bolts are 15 feet left (southeast) of the top of the chute.
FA Party: Brad Young, Josh Mucci, Steve Ochinang, Robert Behrens, Tyler Martin, Tricia Young, Phil Keller, Brent Keller, Kristin Keller, Robert Walton, Jim McConachie, Joe Hornof, Jeff Lane. FA Date: January 10, 2010. Source(s): Self, part of the first ascent party.
  • 740.5 Somewhere 5.6 R *
Reported long ago to David Rubine by Jon Cochran (as part of S.V.M. Post 200 Climbers), by way of a letter and a "map." Jon wrote, "lies on low angle somewhat flaky face to the right of Nexus. Maybe 4+/- bolts." Bolts reported as 2 1/4 inch Star Dryvin. No rating given.
FA Party: Crile Carvey, Jon Cochran. FA Date: 1984. Source(s): Correspondence by Jon Cochran to David Rubine, given November, 2008 by Rubine to Young as part of huge box of old archival material.
EDIT, December 14, 2008: The route is 5.6 R *
It is 500 feet right (northeast) of Nexus, right of steep, broken cliffs and 70 feet right of a tiered waterstreak. Look for an obvious, low-angle, but high slab. Four bolts, the first 30 feet up, the fourth 100 feet up. Continue straight up past the fourth bolt, using several OK slung knobs for additional protection. It is 170 feet to the rim. No belay anchors, use body position. The walk down descent described for Nexus ('07 guidebook, page 297) starts 150 feet to the right (northeast) from where the climb ends. Additional source: ascent by Brad Young and Erik Bratton.
  • 769.5 The Jungle Slab - Original Route 5.8 R
The Jungle Slab is a large, mossy, east facing slab, north of Thundering Herd, 100 yards north of the metal gangway encountered when hiking north out of the Balconies Caves. It is also 150 feet south of the Balconies Cliff/Balconies Cave trail junction. In 2010, a huge oak fell down from right in front of The Jungle Slab routes; its fallen trunk now points directly at the start of Original Route. Obvious third class leads up six feet to ledges from which this and the next route start. Original Route climbs the slot which is above the ledge. The slot has sections of loose rock. It protects with one one inch cam, one five inch cam and two fixed pitons. An ancient bolt at the top of the slot then protects moves to the right, six feet, to a second bolt. From the second bolt easy slab climbing leads 20 feet up and right to an obvious, large hole/shallow alcove and a third bolt. Slab climbing then continues 30 feet up and slightly left to a fourth (ancient) bolt. Fifteen more feet of slab lead straight up to a large ledge and the end of the climbing. A pine 10 feet left of the top-out provides a belay anchor. It is 98 feet from this pine to the start ledge. It appears that this route was originally an aid climb and that aid pitons were used to get to the top of the slot (the amount of loose rock in and around the slot in 2010 was not indicative of prior free climbing, but apparent pin-scars and the bolt pattern above the slot indicate that the route had been climbed). Also the second bolt was replaced in December, 2008 by Brad Young; the replacement bolt was positioned approximately six inches from the original bolt. The third bolt was also replaced in December, 2008 by Brad Young. Due to rock quality, this replacement bolt was placed 18 inches from the original bolt.
FA: Unknown. FA Date: Unknown, but likely between 1965 and 1980. Source(s): Self, discovery of old bolts in 2007, ascent of route with Dennis Erik S. and Phillip Keller, March, 2010.
  • 769.51 The Jungle Slab - Dysentery Direct 5.8 R
Third class up to the same ledge from which Original Route starts. Move twenty feet right of Original Route to a large lodestone which is 18 feet above the ground. Belay here from one old bolt. From the lodestone, climb to a second bolt 10 feet higher. Move past this bolt to a ledge (5.8, mossy). Move left on the ledge. Slung knobs and several two to four inch cams protect a second crux directly below the second bolt of Original Route. A fall from this second crux would be serious; the cams and slung knobs gain some quality only by their quantity. It appears that this route was started but never completed (ample loose rock, the very bad - before replacement - quality of the second bolt, plus the extreme seriousness of the second crux all make it seem nearly certain that the party that placed the two bolts then abandoned the route). The second bolt was replaced by Phillip Keller on March 7, 2010 (the original bolt pulled out with almost no effort).
FA: Dennis Erik S., Brad Young, Phillip Keller. FA Date: March 7, 2010. Source(s): Self, discovery of old bolts in 2007, ascent of route with Dennis Erik S. and Phillip Keller, March, 2010.
  • 815.4 Los Banditos 5.10a A1*
The natural continuation of the Bandits in Bondage pitches. Four pitches. Approach via the first pitch of the route The West Face (route # 811). Fifty feet past the end of this pitch (leftward, The West Face traverses after its first pitch) is a small meadow. Los Banditos starts from this meadow, 100 feet right of the start of Rock Around the Clock. Pitch one (60 feet): start on a small pedestal of rock. Six aid bolts on an overhanging face lead up and left to a small roof which is at the bottom of a water streak. Two more aid bolts lead over the roof. Intimidating free moves from the eighth bolt (5.9) lead to a ledge and one directional bolt. The first pitch anchor is 5 feet to the right. Pitch two (110 feet): This excellent pitch continues up the obvious water chute past 10 bolts (10 includes the directional from the first pitch). Getting into the chute is 5.9; two bulges higher in the chute are each 5.10a. The pitch finishes with 15 feet of easy slab to a stance and a two bolt belay. Pitch 3 (195 feet): Continue up the chute past five bolts on increasingly easy and runout climbing. The crux is after the second bolt (5.7). Large knobs can be slung for additional protection. One hundred fifty feet up, the chute branches. Take the straight up branch (that is, don't take the branch to the left). A two bolt anchor is obvious on a low angle slab, 30 feet below the bottom of the water chute which is descended as part of the Old Original Rappel Bypass variation (route # 836). Pitch Four (90 feet): Climb the deeper chute which is 30 feet left (north) of the chute which makes up the Rappel Bypass (these chutes are obvious on page 338 of the guidebook). Small cams (the only gear on the route) can be used to protect the moves into the chute (5.5); the chute then becomes class three and four (and can be further protected by slung knobs). End on the top of Machete Ridge, at a digger pine which is 30 feet from the end of Old Original's third pitch.
FA Party: Jim McConachie, Brad Young, Erik Bratton, Dennis Erik S. FA Date: December 6, 2009 (route was started in October, 2007). Source(s): Self, part of the first ascent party.

Pinnacles National Monument Announces its Spring 2010 Artist in Residence Program (01/28/2010)

Pinnacles National Monument – Pinnacles is pleased to announce that the park is accepting applications for the spring 2010 Artist Residency. The residency period is from April 5 to 18, 2010, with lodging provided on the east side of the park. Applications must be postmarked by February 19, 2010 to be eligible for this spring residency.

The Artist in Residence program is open to all 2-D and 3-D visual artists and photographers. The artist typically produces a few pieces of original work, depending on the medium, and agrees to donate at least one finished piece to the park. Artists also interact with the public, often leading talks about their passion for art and their experience at the park.

Pinnacles launched the Artist in Residence program in the fall of 2008 as part of the Centennial Celebration, and this is the fourth residency. This program immerses artists in the serenity and tranquility of a park wilderness setting. Far away from the lights, sounds and distractions of city life, artists can find inspiration in the solitude and the surroundings of the park.

Interested artists can find more information on our Web site

or contact:

Tammi Skalitzky, 831-389-4486 x243
tammi_skalitzky@nps.gov

Partnership Helps Endangered Condors Take Flight (01/17/2010)

National Parks in the U.S. and Argentina Join Forces: Partnership Helps Endangered Condors Take Flight WASHINGTON -

Two of the world's largest and most endangered birds will benefit from a sister park agreement signed today by the directors of the National Park Service and Argentina's Administracion de Parques Nacionales. This formal partnership uniting Pinnacles National Monument in California and Parque Nacional Quebrada del Condorito in Cordoba will strengthen condor conservation efforts at both sites.

"These two national parks are located in different countries but are connected by their efforts to protect similar resources," said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. "They have comparable terrain and features, but most importantly, they have both played a vital role in the return of the condor. Due to incredible conservation efforts at and between the parks, the majestic bird once again soars over these areas."

"These two parks have already shared scientific expertise while working together on condor recovery projects," said Administracion de Parques Nacionales President Dr. Patricia Gandini. "This pact will enable us to continue to coordinate information and research efforts on common issues including resource protection, educational programs, and community outreach."

Jarvis and Gandini expressed gratitude to many present at the ceremony who actively support the partnership, including Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA), Argentine diplomat José Luis Santiago Perez Gabilondo, Pinnacles National Monument Superintendent Eric Brunnemann, Rotary International member Peter Anderson, and Pinnacles Partnership representative David Cole. Rotary International and the Pinnacles Partnership actively supported staff exchanges and the sister park agreement. Pinnacles Partnership is a non-profit organization supporting a variety of activities at the monument.

The California condor is the largest North American land bird; it weighs about 20 pounds, is four feet long, has a nine-foot wingspan, and can glide for miles without flapping its wings. By the mid 1980's, only 22 existed, and a conservation plan was hatched to capture and breed the species. Today, Pinnacles National Monument is home to 26 of 189 free flying California condors.

The Andean condor is the largest flying bird on earth and shares many physical attributes with its cousin the California condor. It is a national symbol of Argentina and plays an important role in South American folklore and mythology. Local conservation efforts have ensured that this powerful, yet threatened, bird will continue to roam the skies.

This is the first sister park partnership to form under an official Memorandum of Understanding signed between the National Park Service and the Administracion de Parques Nacionales in 1997. The agencies hope that today's bi-lateral agreement is the first step in reinvigorating cooperation in park matters between the two nations.

The National Park Service currently has 37 sister park relationships between U.S. and foreign protected areas that share similar natural or cultural resources and/or management issues.

Pinnacles Partnership, a friends group formed by several local citizens in 2006, supports projects at Pinnacles that are critical to protecting and restoring park lands. These projects range from supporting condor recovery efforts at Pinnacles, celebrating the park's centennial anniversary, and supporting schools' abilities to use Pinnacles as an outdoor classroom. This non-profit organization exists thanks to caring contributors in the community. For more information visit their Web site.

Rotary club members are volunteers who work locally, regionally, and internationally to combat hunger, improve health and sanitation, provide education and job training, promote peace, and eradicate polio under the motto Service Above Self. For more information visit their Web site.

Additional information can be obtained on the Pinnacles Park Web site or by calling 831-389-4485.

Rebolting Report - Adam's Apple (Tilting Terrace) (01/10/2010)

(note: this entry is an edited version of the actual report submitted by Bruce regarding the days events)

FOP Board Members: Clint C. and Bruce H. went to the Pinnacles today (01/10/10) and replaced the missing bolt on Adam's Apple (Flumes Formation on the West Side). The route has seven bolts and the first five are 3/8" star dryvins. The route was supposedly put up in 1992, but it seems a strange choice to use such out-of-date hardware. The last two bolts are 5-piece Rawls.

Given all the traffic on the Flumes formation, it might be a good idea to replace all the Star Dryvins. We will put that on the list.

BTW, as they say on the TV show Deadliest Catch, Clint 'was on the trash' today. We must have packed out about 15 plastic water bottles, 10 aluminum cans and a whole bunch of other assorted junk. Clint even found a diaper (unfortunately, used) along the way.

Another great FOP outing.

Climbing Advisories Going Into Effect (01/07/2010)

Annual measures to protect nesting raptors of Pinnacles National Monument will be reinstated as of January 14, 2010, according to Park Superintendent Eric Brunnemann. Last year 10 pairs of prairie falcons produced a total of 37 fledglings. Additionally, the monument had successful nesting by Peregrine Falcons, American Kestrels, Red-tailed Hawks, Red-shouldered Hawks, Cooper's Hawks, Sharp-shinned Hawks, and Golden Eagles. Park researchers will continue to monitor raptors to better understand these interesting and beautiful birds. "We ask you to refrain from any off-trail hiking and climbing in sensitive areas which include the High Peaks, the Balconies Cliffs area, Machete Ridge, Citadel, Goat Rock, Little Pinnacles, Pipsqueak Pinnacles, Gargoyle/Piedras Bonitas, Frog/Hand, Egg Rock/Teapot Dome, and the Scout Peak area," said Brunnemann. "Without your cooperation in avoiding the advisory areas, this program could not be the success that it is," continued Brunnemann.

The specific locations of these sensitive areas are posted on information boards at trailheads, at the visitor centers, on the web or by calling (831)-389-4485.

For more information regarding the monument's raptor monitoring program, please call the office of Research and Resource Management at 831-389-4486 extension 270.

Advisories are also posted on the FOP site in or Advisory Updates section.

Breeding California Condor Dies of Lead Poisoning (12/08/2009)

Pinnacles National Monument - The adult female of the only breeding pair of California Condors in San Benito County was recently rushed to the Los Angeles Zoo for emergency treatment after National Park Service biologists observed the bird exhibiting unusual behavior. The condor's legs were not moving properly and it had ceased to fly as often as is normal for an adult condor. Condor #303 was originally released in Monterey by the Ventana Wildlife Society but later successfully nested in San Benito County with condor #313, the first and only breeding pair there in approximately 70 years.

Veterinarians identified the condor had an extremely high level of lead in its blood stream and emergency treatment was undertaken to help the bird pass lead out of its system. Paralysis of the legs had been brought about by the neuro-toxic effects of the heavy metal. A radiograph also demonstrated that a metallic object was within the condor's digestive tract. Despite behavioral signs of recovery over two weeks of treatment, the condor nevertheless perished. The cause of death was determined to be lead toxicosis.

Analyses were conducted at the University of California, Santa Cruz to determine the source of the lead. Researchers state that the lead fragment is entirely consistent with a fragment from lead-based ammunition. Condors are scavengers, only eating dead animals. Condors can inadvertently ingest lead bullet fragments lodged in animal carcasses and gut piles. Lead from ammunition could be found in big game animals, such as deer, or could be from a livestock animal shot to be euthanized, or by some illegal shooting or poaching.

Although there are over 300 more California condors in the world than there were in the 1980s, these endangered birds are still facing avoidable threats to their survival. Condor researchers agree that lead from spent ammunition was a significant factor in decline of condor populations and remains a threat for the reintroduced birds.

"The loss of this nesting condor is a blow to the recovery program for the species," said Dale Steele, California Department of Fish and Game Environmental Program Manager. "The use of lead ammunition is banned and the Department of Fish and Game takes the enforcement of the law and the recovery of the condor very seriously."

In July 2008, California changed hunting regulations to require hunters in the condor's range to use only non-lead ammunition. Information on the new regulations can be found on the California Department of Fish and Game's website.

Condor 303's premature death is a significant setback in achieving the goal of establishing breeding pairs of condors in the wild. The natural reproduction of wild offspring is a necessary step toward removing condors from the Endangered Species List. The adult male condor continues to feed recently fledged condor #514, but loss of his mate reduces his chance of successfully breeding again. Kelly Sorenson, Executive Director of Ventana Wildlife Society remarked, "It is truly sad that this female condor suffered this fate and that her mate and chick must now try to survive on their own."

Condor biologists see ranching and big game hunting as critical to the survival of the endangered birds. "Open space with large mammals is the ideal landscape for condors," said Daniel George, Condor Program Manager at Pinnacles National Monument.

After a precipitous decline in numbers, California Condors remain one of the rarest birds in the world, with a total population numbering 351, as of October 31, 2009, and 180 free-flying birds in the world. That's an increase from 1985, when just 22 California Condors survived.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the lead federal partner and the Department of Fish and Game is a state partner in the multi-agency California Condor Recovery Program. Release sites in central California are operated by National Park Service and Ventana Wildlife Society. Project partners include the Institute for Wildlife Studies, Pinnacles Partnership and private entities like the RS Bar Guest Ranch. Breeding programs are operated by The San Diego Wild Animal Park, Los Angeles Zoo, Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey and the Oregon Zoo.

Park Staff Assist Stranded Climbers (11/21/2009)

Pinnacles National Monument - On the evening of Sunday, November 15, park staff assisted two male climbers, from the San Jose area, off of a climbing route after they had become stranded due to nightfall. Both climbers were uninjured.

The climbers were able to place a cell phone call to a friend, who contacted the park, around 6:00PM after they could no longer climb in darkness. They were near the top of "Condor Condiment", a 500 foot route on the Condor Crag formation in the High Peaks area of Pinnacles National Monument. The climbers were in different locations on the route and could not complete the final 100 feet without additional light. Rangers contacted the party via their cell phone and determined their approximate location and condition before the climber's phone battery was exhausted. With an overnight forecast of 25 degrees Fahrenheit and gusting winds, rangers and search & rescue team members were dispatched to their location. A California Highway Patrol helicopter located the pair using infrared radar and a powerful "Night Sun" floodlight. Assisted by monument staff, the climbers then completed the route and shorter descent off the back side of the formation. Upon completing the descent at 1:00 AM, the pair had been on the route for 14 hours.

Rangers escorted the climbers back to the trail and provided them flashlights for their walk back to the Chaparral parking area on the park's west side.

"I am glad that through the efforts of our search & rescue team and partner agencies, this potential tragedy has been prevented," explained Eric Brunnemann, Superintendent of Pinnacles National Monument.

Some hints for safe and successful climbing:

  • Do not go beyond your abilities and always allow yourself enough time, before darkness is imminent
  • Use a helmet
  • Know the route, carry a guidebook.
  • Know and practice self-rescue techniques.
  • Carry extra food, water and clothing.
  • Carry two ropes on a multi-pitch climb.
  • Carry a headlamp, spare batteries and bulbs.
  • Carry a first-aid kit and know how to use it.
  • Use redundant anchor systems.

For more information about climbing at Pinnacles, please visit the parks climbing web page or the Friends of Pinnacles web page.

General park information can be obtained by visiting www.nps.gov/pinn or by calling 831-389-4485. -NPS- Experience Your America

First Wild Raised Condor Chick Takes Flight (11/03/2009)

The bird was observed on Oct. 17 perched some distance from his nest high on a cliff. "The two places I've seen him he definitely didn't hop to," said Jason Bumann, manager of the RS Bar Guest Ranch where the nest is located some 12 miles east of Pinnacles National Monument in San Benito County. "I saw him in two different spots I know he had to fly to get to." Bumann hoped a visit with biologists planned for later this week would coincide with another one of the bird's first flights.

Historically, California Condors bred in San Benito's rugged backcountry. While the last conclusively documented nest there was recorded more than a century ago, a pair may have nested some 70 years ago.

Condor 514 has been reared by two first-time parents, Condors 303 and 313. The pair produced a single egg last spring. In order to test the wild-laid egg for contaminants, biologists rappelled into the birds' cliff nest and traded the egg for one produced at the Los Angeles Zoo on April 17. The egg hatched a day later.

Condor 303 was released in Big Sur and Condor 313 is the oldest male released at Pinnacles National Monument. " It is not only exciting to see a pair of condors breeding in San Benito County again, but even more interesting that the pair was formed by birds originating from two release sites," said Ventana Wildlife Society's executive director Kelly Sorenson.

Regular monitoring shows a healthy, growing bird. Condors typically take 5 ½ to 6 months after hatching before taking wing, and remain close to the nest site and parents for many months afterward.

"The fledging of this condor is an important step in re-establishing a condor flock in the wild," said Eric Brunnemann, Superintendent, Pinnacles National Monument. "Condors raised in the wild by parents hatched in zoos prove that these birds have retained their breeding instincts and can reassume their natural role in the ecosystem," added Daniel George, Condor Program Manager at Pinnacles National Monument.

Condors typically produce a solitary egg every two years, and do not begin breeding until about six years of age. The enormous birds - their wings span more than nine feet and they can weigh upwards of 20 pounds - are thought to live as many as 60 years in the wild. They soar over vast distances in search of the carrion that comprises their diet.

The location of the nest was revealed through radio telemetry and global positioning technology. National Park Service biologists worked with Bumann and his staff to first locate the nest early last year. The owners of the 18,300-acre ranch teamed up with members of the condor recovery effort and the nonprofit Pinnacles Partnership to make possible public viewing of the nest. Nest visits are continuing, and further information is available by going to www.pinnaclespartnership.org or by calling 831-389-4486 ext 239. RS Bar Guest Ranch is a private lodge specializing in retreat events and hunting. More information about the lodge can be found at www.rsbarranch.com. "This has been a win-win for the ranch and for condors," said Mark Paxton of the Pinnacles Partnership.

After a precipitous decline in numbers, California Condors remain one of the rarest birds in the world, with a population numbering about 350, and fewer than 200 free-flying birds in the world. That's a hopeful increase from 1982, when just 22 California Condors lived. The birds were captured that year in a bold attempt to rescue the species from extinction.

Condor numbers declined for a number of reasons, but the critical factor was revealed only after the captive breeding program began. The primary threat to California condor recovery was found to be lead poisoning. Condors can inadvertently ingest lead bullet fragments lodged in animal carcasses and gut piles. As a result, the California Legislature and California State Fish and Game Commission have restricted use of lead ammunition throughout the birds' range.

The continuing effort to re-establish California Condors at Pinnacles is a cooperative endeavor between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Ventana Wildlife Society, the Institute for Wildlife Studies, Pinnacles Partnership and private partners like the RS Bar Guest Ranch, in collaboration with the California Condor Recovery Team. The San Diego Wild Animal Park, Los Angeles Zoo, Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey and the Oregon Zoo breed condors for wild release.

Additional information on the California Condor Recovery Program can be obtained by the Park Web site or the Ventana News site.

Voluntary Climber Registration Logs Relocated (11/03/2009)

The voluntary climber registration logs and boxes on the west side of Pinnacles National Monument have been relocated.

A new box has been installed on the back of the interpretive climbing display next to the Chaparral restroom, on the west side of Pinnacles. The new box is similar to the registration box on the back of the display at the Moses Spring (east side) trailhead. The boxes at the Balconies and Juniper Canyon trailheads have been removed.

The voluntary logs are used for search & rescue purposes. When the NPS receives a report of overdue climbers, the logs are checked for any information that may narrow the response area. While such occasions are rare, we find that most parties having difficultly during their climbs did not encounter other visitors during their trip and information is scarce. Considering the remote location of many routes, the logs are a valuable tool that may reduce response time in emergencies.

The old boxes became a popular place for garbage and the logs became ineffective. Very few visitors used the logs properly and they were often destroyed by vandalism and graffiti.

Many emergency responses at Pinnacles could have been prevented with better trip preparation. Carry extra clothing, water, and a flashlight. Do not rely on cell phone service. Let friends or family know where you are going and when you'll return. If you plan on accessing the more remote challenges in the monument, leave detailed information with someone. The registration logs will continue to be available to those who wish to leave this information at the trailhead. Even if you're confident in your abilities, please encourage use of the registration logs, especially among those who may be climbing at the monument for the first time.

Comments or suggestions on this topic may be addressed to brett_hergert@nps.gov. General park information can be obtained by visiting our Web Site or by calling 831-389-4486 extension 0.

Witness First Flight of Juvenile California Condors (09/23/2009)

On Saturday, September 26, up to 2 California condors will be released into the wild at Pinnacles National Monument, 80 miles south of San Jose. The public is invited to attend the event to witness the first free flights of these condors from a viewing area located approximately 3/4 mile from the release site. This viewing area is normally closed to the public. Arrival at the park between 7:30 and 8:30 is recommended in order to reach the viewing area before the ceremony begins at 10 a.m. The event will take place on the east side of the park off of Highway 25. Shuttle services from designated parking areas will transport guests to within 1.5 miles of the viewing area. Guests unable to walk the trail can request special assistance. Spotting scopes, binoculars, water, sunscreen, layered clothing, and comfortable hiking shoes are highly recommended. Car pooling is encouraged since parking is limited, and is on a first come, first served basis. Because of the significance of this event and the desire to make it accessible to everyone, Superintendent Eric Brunnemann has scheduled the event to coincide with National Public Lands Day, a day when entrance fees are waived at all National Park sites.

"We are encouraged by the success of this program and the support of the local communities and park neighbors," said Brunnemann. "The return of the California condor to the central coast of California provides excellent opportunities for condor viewing in the park, and we are proud to be a part of the recovery of this magnificent species."

Four juvenile condors -- 2 female and 2 male -- will be set free in Pinnacles National Monument this fall, joining the park's twenty two wild resident condors. Up to 2 birds may be "soft released" through a double-door trap on September 26, and once these birds give indications that are acclimating to their new surroundings, the park plans to release the remaining juveniles over the following weeks. There is a chance that no birds will enter the trap on the day of the event. However, there is a good chance to see previously released free flying birds. The 1-2 year old juvenile condors are a result of successful captive breeding programs at the Oregon Zoo and Peregrine Fund World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho.

All of Pinnacles' releases have been "soft releases" using a double-door trap because it is less stressful on the birds. This technique relies on using a special trap built into the side of the flight pen, one door being open to the inside of the pen and the other to outside and freedom. The interior door normally remains open to allow the condors to become familiar with the interior of the trap. For release purposes, once a condor enters the trap, the inner door is closed and the outer door is opened to allow it to fly free.

This is the sixth release of the endangered birds at Pinnacles. Ultimately, project biologists anticipate building a sustainable population of 30 or more condors at Pinnacles, a historic condor nesting area, over the next several years. The reintroduction of California condors to Pinnacles is a cooperative effort between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Ventana Wildlife Society and Pinnacles Partnership in collaboration with the California Condor Recovery Team.

Overnight Accommodations: For camping information and reservations, visit www.nps.gov/pinn/planyourvisit/camp.htm or www.recreation.gov. Lodging is available in the area, but there is also a very special opportunity to view Benito County's first condor nest in more than 70 years (http://www.pinnaclespartnership.org ).

National Public Lands Day is the nation's largest hands-on volunteer effort to improve and enhance the public lands Americans enjoy. In 2008, 120,000 volunteers built trails and bridges, removed trash and invasive plants, and planted over 1.6 million trees. Join us for the 16th annual National Public Lands Day.

Pinnacles Partnership, a friends group formed by several local citizens in 2006, supports projects at Pinnacles that are critical to protecting and restoring park lands. These projects range from supporting condor recovery efforts at Pinnacles, celebrating the park's centennial anniversary, and supporting schools' abilities to use Pinnacles as an outdoor classroom. This non-profit organization exists thanks to caring contributors in the community.

Ventana Wildlife Society, which has been conducting condor releases in Big Sur, California since 1997, teamed up with the National Park Service in 2002 to reintroduce condors to Pinnacles National Monument.

The San Diego Wild Animal Park, Los Angeles Zoo, the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho and the Oregon Zoo breed condors destined for release in California, Arizona, and Baja, Mexico. The Pinnacles condor release is an important link in the overall condor recovery effort.

From a population low of 22 birds in the mid-1980s, condors have rebounded through intensive captive breeding efforts and rigorous educational programs explaining human-caused threats to condor survival. Especially important is work that the Institute for Wildlife Studies is doing to discuss the connection of lead ammunition fragments to wildlife mortality and the availability of non-lead alternatives. As of July 31, 2009, the total world population of California condors was 176 in captivity and 180 in the wild.

Pinnacles National Monument's West Side Reopens (09/01/2009)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Pinnacles National Monument's west side and all park trails are open. "Pinnacles has been working closely with Cal Fire and with the fire completely contained and all evacuations and road closures lifted, I am comfortable lifting the park's temporary closures," Superintendent Eric Brunnemann explained. "With the reopening of Metz Road, HWY 146, and mop up operations underway, I feel it is safe for visitors and staff to renter the areas that were temporary closed," Brunnemann continued. Firefighters have been able to prevent the Gloria Fire from entering park land. Pinnacles reminds visitors that all fires are currently prohibited in the park except for the use of gas stoves in designated areas.

The park's west side and all backcountry trails were closed Friday, August 28, to regular staff and all visitors due to the proximity and potential danger of the Gloria Fire burning into the park's west side. The park encourages visitors to the west side of the park to use additional caution while on HWY 146 between Soledad and the park as PG&E crews, fire personnel, and equipment that will continue to be working in the area.

For information specifically on the Gloria Fire, please call CalFire at 831-647-6257 or visit their web site.

General park information can be obtained by visiting the Park's Web site or by calling 831-389-4485.

Pinnacles National Monument Presents Free National Parks Film Viewing (09/01/2009)

Tomorrow evening, September 1 from 7:00 - 9:00 pm, the public is encouraged to attend a free preview of the companion film to the upcoming PBS series, The National Parks: America's Best Idea. The evening will start with the film ‘This is America', chronicling the diversity of National Park pioneers. Following the viewing will be a discussion and update about Pinnacles National Monument and its programs. The showing will be in Salinas at Sherwood Hall.

For more information, email Pinnacles National Monument at pinn_visitor_information@nps.gov or call 831-389-4486 x 243. The event is free and space is still available. Sherwood Hall is located in Salinas Community Center, 940 North Main Street, Salinas, CA.

Filmed over the course of more than six years at some of nature's most spectacular locales - from Acadia to Yosemite, Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon, the Everglades of Florida to the Gates of the Arctic in Alaska - The National Parks: America's Best Idea is, nonetheless, a story of people: people from every conceivable background - rich and poor; famous and unknown; soldiers and scientists; natives and newcomers; idealists, artists and entrepreneurs; people who were willing to devote themselves to saving some precious portion of the land they loved, and in doing so reminded their fellow citizens of the full meaning of democracy. It is a story full of struggle and conflict, high ideals and crass opportunism, stirring adventure and enduring inspiration - set against the most breathtaking backdrops imaginable.

This event is brought to you by Pinnacles National Monument, Pinnacles Partnership, KQED Public Media, National Parks Conservation Association, Big Sur Land Trust, and the Monterey County Hispanic Chamber Of Commerce.

General park information can be obtained by visiting the Web site or by calling 831-389-4485.

Pinnacles West Side Closed Due To Gloria Fire (08/29/2009)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

On Friday, August 28, Superintendent Eric Brunnemann closed the park's west side and all backcountry trails to regular staff and all visitors. "Due to the proximity and potential danger of the Gloria Fire burring into the park's west side, I am compelled to temporarily close these areas of the park to insure the safety of our visitors and staff" Brunnemann explained. "We are working closely with Cal Fire and will be reassessing these closures each day," Brunnemann continued.

Park east side picnic areas, the Campground, and the Bench trail remain open. Park visitors, especially those with respiratory conditions, should use caution if entering the park. All fires are currently prohibited in the park except for the use of gas stoves in designated areas.

For information specifically on the Gloria Fire, please call CalFire at 831.647.6257 or visit their web site at: www.fire.ca.gov

General park information can be obtained by visiting the Park Web site or by calling (831) 389-4485.

Climbing Areas Reopen (07/08/2009)

Rock formations subject to advisory closures to rock climbing and off-trail hiking for protecting nesting falcons and eagles will reopen Friday, July 10. According to Superintendent Eric Brunnemann, "All sensitive areas will reopen Friday and will remain so until next January when the raptors return and begin to select nest areas." A total of 10 prairie falcon nests successfully produced nestlings and fledged a total of 37 young, representing the second-most productive year for Pinnacles prairie falcons on record. In addition to Golden Eagles, American Kestrels, Red-shouldered, Red-tailed, Sharp-shinned, and Cooper's Hawks producing young this year, 3 Peregrine Falcon young fledged from a nest at Hawkins Peak.

2009 marks the 23rd year of raptor monitoring at Pinnacles National Monument. "We thank the climbers and hikers for their patience and support of our efforts to protect these spectacular birds of prey at Pinnacles. Without your cooperation in avoiding the advisory areas, this program could not be the success that it is," Brunnemann explained. Pinnacles' rock climbing advisories are lifted a few weeks after the nests have fledged. This allows the new fledglings some time to practice flying without being interrupted or disturbed by people.

For more information regarding raptor activity at Pinnacles National Monument, or the park's raptor monitoring program, please call the office of Research and Resource Management at 831-389-4486 x276.

New Additions to Summit Registry Project (07/08/2009)

As part of our ongoing efforts to preserve summit registry entries from throughout the park FOP has completed recording most of the information from the North Finger Summit register.

Despite the extreme deterioration of entries removed from the North Finger summit register FOP volunteers were able to recover entries dating back to 1973. Unfortunately, the register had been compromised and many of the entries had been water-logged repeatedly for an undetermined amount of time. Volunteers painstakingly peeled apart pages with tweezers and set them out to dry. The entries were later deciphered using various techniques. Any entry with a legible name and date was entered into the archive.

Of course many entries were lost to the deterioration and could not be recovered, but many were saved.

Several entries of specific interest have been copied, laminated and scheduled for return to the actual summit register for the enjoyment of future climbers.

To read these entries see our Summit Register page.

New Raptor Research (05/25/2009)

There will be some additional raptor research going on over the next 2 weeks at Pinnacles. I will be joining Dr. Douglas Bell, a professor at Sacramento State University with extensive experience in prairie falcon handling, in conducting single nest entries into 3 prairie falcon nests at Pinnacles this year. At each nest, we will briefly handle the nestlings, give them color bands, and take blood samples, then place them back in their respective nests. The blood samples will be used for genetics testing to help us determine how insular and interrelated our prairie falcon population is at Pinnacles, and the color bands will help us to specifically identify individuals during monitoring periods. This information has the potential to give us a much more thorough understanding of movements, pair and site fidelity, and immigration into our population, and will allow us to adjust our management strategies accordingly.

Climbers

I want to stress that this research is not in reaction to any recent climbing issues at the park... Far from it. The local climbing community has been exceptional in their involvement in ensuring the continuing success of the prairie falcon population at Pinnacles. We're just trying to get a better sense of how much in-flow of "new blood" we get into the PINN prairie falcon population. Our guess is that these birds have a small genetic pool, which would make them more sensitive to disturbance or disruption. This research should give us a clearer sense of how insular our falcon population really is.

The nest entries will be timed to ensure that the researchers (Doug and me) and the falcon nestlings are safe throughout the process, and that the nestlings are handled briefly and efficiently to minimize disturbance at nest sites. We may be entering at least 1 nest site in a climbing advisory area in view of visitors. In this case, we will have roving biologists and/or interpretation rangers on trail to answer questions and provide educational opportunities for visitors in regards to the nest entry research.

Thanks for your support, and if you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Gavin Emmons, Raptor Biologist
Pinnacles National Monument
5000 Highway 146
Paicines, CA 95043
(831) 389-4486 x276

Latest 2009 Raptor Monitoring Report (05/11/2009)

Prairie falcons (PRFA) and the Hawkins peregrine falcon (PEFA) pair are actively incubating eggs and have started hatching nestlings. At present the following have been documented: 11 PRFA pairs with confirmed nests, and the PEFA nesting pair. These are listed below:

  • Discovery Wall: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • Goat Rock: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • Egg / Teapot: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • Hawkins Peak: PEFA pair, nest confirmed
  • Crowley Towers: PRFA pair, nest and nestlings confirmed
  • Little Pinnacles (Yaks): PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • South / North Balconies: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • Machete: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • Drywall: PRFA pair, nest and nestlings confirmed
  • North Chalone Peak: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • Pig Canyon: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • D. Soto Canyon: PRFA pair, nest confirmed

PRFA nesting efforts appear to be proceeding successfully this year, with 11 nests confirmed for 2009, on par with the 23-year averages for the monitoring program. Young PRFA nestlings have been confirmed at Drywall and Crowley, with other nest sites likely hatching falcon young as well.

Raptor advisory signs have been placed at Hawkins, Scout, Balconies, Little Pinnacles, and at the south end of Discovery Wall to protect these sensitive species from the pressures of hiking and climbing during the nesting season. If you aren’t sure what areas are covered by the advisories, please refer to the advisory handouts or contact me for clarification. Any assistance park staff can provide in diverting visitors from advisory areas, and reporting incidents of climbers and hikers in advisory areas to law enforcement staff, is highly appreciated!

Other raptor species are also raising and feeding nestlings now as well, including golden eagles (GOEA), red-tailed hawks (RTHA), and red-shouldered hawks (RSHA). Currently there are documented nest sites for 2 GOEA pairs, 7 RTHA pairs, and a RSHA pair. These are listed below:

  • North Chalone Peak: GOEA pair, nest confirmed
  • Eucalyptus Grove (near west side PINN entrance): GOEA pair, nest confirmed
  • Cemetery Gates: RTHA pair, nest confirmed
  • Hand: RTHA pair, nest confirmed
  • Eagle Rock: RTHA pair, nest confirmed
  • North Balconies: RTHA pair, nest and nestlings confirmed
  • McCabe Canyon: RTHA pair, nest confirmed
  • West Side Entrance: RTHA pair, nest confirmed
  • Butterfield Canyon: RTHA pair, nest confirmed
  • McCabe Canyon: RSHA pair, nest confirmed

Although nests have not been confirmed, territorial RTHA pairs have also been documented at Grassy Canyon and Western Front. RSHA pairs have also been confirmed at Pinnacles Campground, near the Bacon homestead, and in South Wilderness. American kestrel pairs have been documented throughout the park, but nest sites have not been confirmed yet. White-tailed kites have been absent throughout the park this year, and nest sites have not been confirmed for any owl species yet.

If you have any observations within the park to report, or any raptor-related questions, contact Gavin at extension, 276. Thanks!

Gavin Emmons, Raptor Biologist
Pinnacles National Monument
5000 Highway 146
Paicines, CA 95043
(831) 389-4486 x276

First Condor Nest Near Pinnacles in Over 70 Years (04/27/2009)

Amazing News

Biologists at Pinnacles National Monument have verified the first California condor nest in San Benito County since before a reestablishment effort began there in 2003. A male condor, condor 313, released at the Monument as a 1 1/2 year old bird in 2004 has just reached breeding age and has paired with a nearly six year old female, condor 303, originally released along the Big Sur coast by Ventana Wildlife Society. This is the first breeding attempt by either condor.

Biologists will be closely monitoring the nest to determine if the new parents succeed in incubating the egg and rearing a young bird to fledge from the high rocky cliff. The adult condors were tracked using radio telemetry and global positioning technology to the nest site. In March, the condor pair began regularly alternating visits to the remote cliff,indicating the birds were trading off incubation duties. During a later site visit, biologists were able to witness the male, condor 313, stand and briefly turn the egg.

The nest site is on a private ranch outside of the monument. The National Park Service is working with the ranchers on a collaborative management nest monitoring strategy. Ranching operations will continue as normal. "This has been a rewarding opportunity to work with our community toward common goals. Both the ranchers and the condors will benefit from the continuation of successful ranching operations," said Daniel George,Condor Program Manager at Pinnacles national Monument.

Condor eggs take an average of 57 days to hatch. Nestlings remain flightless for an additional 5 1/2 to 6 months. Park Service biologists expect that if the new parents successfully rear a young condor, it would take its first flight in early October.

Condor History

History of the Pinnacles Condor Program Pinnacles National Monument was chosen as a California condor release site due to historical documentation of condors in the area, good cliff nesting structure, and the large expanses of intact habitat in the region.

There have been five groups of condors released at Pinnacles National Monument, bringing the current total to 23 free-flying condors. Ultimately,project biologists aim to build a sustainable population of condors at Pinnacles over the next several years. This will contribute to the US Fish and Wildlife Service Recovery Plan goal of establishing a population in California of 150 or more condors with at least 15 breeding pairs.

History of the California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus) Condors maintained a strong population in the American West until the mid-19th century, when shooting, poisoning from lead and strychnine, egg collecting, DDT, and general habitat degradation began to take a heavy toll. Between the mid-1880s and 1924, there were scattered reports of condors in Arizona. But by the late 1930s, all remaining condors were found only in California and by 1982, the total population had dwindled to just22 birds and extinction loomed.

As a result of the continued downward spiral of the condor population,the California condor was placed on the federal endangered species list in1967. In the early 1980s, an intensive captive breeding program rescued the species from extinction and in the 1990s reestablishment efforts began in southern California. Since that time, release sites have also been launched in Northern Arizona, along the Big Sur coast, at Pinnacles National Monument, and on the Baja Peninsula in Mexico.

Recent Information

The current world population of California condors numbers 322, more than an order of magnitude from the population low in 1982. Eighty-six birds are flying free in California, fifteen in Baja Mexico, and seventy-one in Arizona. An additional 150 are in captive breeding centers.

Challenges to Condor Recovery For recovery of an endangered species to succeed, it is necessary to change in the conditions that lead to their decline. Egg collecting is no longer a significant threat, the effects of DDT are likely to diminish over the coming century, and poisoning of bait carcasses for predator control is no longer an established practice.

The primary threat remaining to California condor recovery is lead poisoning. Condors inadvertently ingest lead bullet fragments when animal carcasses, and their gut piles, shot with lead remain on the landscape. For this reason, the California legislature outlawed the use of lead ammunition for big game hunting and depredation within the condor's range.

The Institute for Wildlife Studies works to disseminate information of the effectiveness and availability non-lead ammunition.

Partners in Recovery The reestablishment of California condors to Pinnacles is a cooperative effort between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and Ventana Wildlife Society, the Institute for Wildlife Studies, and Pinnacles Partnership, in collaboration with the California Condor Recovery Team.

The San Diego Wild Animal Park, Los Angeles Zoo, the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho, and the Oregon Zoo breed condors destined for release in California, Arizona, and Baja, Mexico. The Pinnacles condor release is an important link in the overall condor recovery effort.

Further details of the program are available on the Pinnacles National Monument website or by calling Pinnacles National Monument at 831-389-4485. For information on Pinnacles Partnership's work,contact Mark Paxton at 831-801-4882.

2009 Rockpile Rendezvous Wrap Up (04/08/2009)

On Saturday, April 4th Pinnacles National Monument celebrated its second annual Rockpile Rendezvous. The Rendezvous is a chance for the Park and other groups dedicated to preserving climbing at the park to talk directly with Park visitors both in and out of the climbing community.

This year's event started with a quiet overnight gathering at one of the Pinnacles Campgrounds group sites, generously donated by the Park to event participants. Although temperatures dropped to an unusual ~35 degrees Friday evening, The American Alpine Club and Friends Of Pinnacles groups braved the cold to swap stories over warm cups of coffee.

After setting up the various booths on Saturday morning and exchanging greetings, the Rendezvous started with a bang as groups of visitors entered the Park in a steady stream. The day's activities featured climbing demos and the chance for visitors to try out the climbing themselves with Sunshine and her expert crew from Naturalists At Large. They set up at Tourist Trap and had both young and old climbers on the ropes throughout the day. It was pretty exciting, as most of them had never climbed before.

Larry Arthur and his lovely assistant (wife) Jane set up an impressive booth representing Mountain Tools. Larry brought some amazing historical climbing equipment, as well as a ton of new gear for visitors to peruse.

The American Alpine Club, represented by Tom Burch and Scott Sawyer, brought an impressive array of informational materials for climbers and other outdoor enthusiasts, and answered questions from the various visitors.

Friends Of Pinnacles also provided informational materials specific to climbing at Pinnacles and the always popular "interactive bolt board," highlighting the progression of climbing bolts in the park since the 1960s. FOP also had a sampling of old and new climbing gear that visitors were able to handle themselves. In the afternoon Bruce Hildenbrand and Clint Cummins of FOP staged a re-bolting demonstration at Discovery Wall on Fly By, Bye-Bye Fly By and The Plague. Reports indicate that the rusted old bolts proved to be extremely difficult to remove.

Tom from Search and Rescue was popular, bringing along a complete setup showing off the various SAR equipment and procedures.

The Park Service outdid themselves this year by setting up two booths: their standard informational booth (including their cool 3-D topo of the park) and a raptor booth. Masterfully run by Alacia Welch and Gavin Emmons (when he wasn't off checking up on the birds), the raptor booth featured an assortment of feathers, skulls and eggs along with a life-sized silhouette of a California Condor that dwarfed even the biggest visitors to the booth. The Park sent several of their best to the event including: Scott Scherbinski, Michael Rupp, Brett Hergert, Dan Ryan and Albert Faria.

Other noteworthy attendees included Brad Young, author of the latest Pinnacles Guidebook. Brad showed up with his whole family and even managed to "do some work" by verifying a new route in the Ignorable Cliffs with another Pinnacles climbing legend, Jim McConachie. Long-time climbing enthusiast Jody Langford and his father Jim regaled the crowd with stories - Jim (a ranger at the Pinnacles in the 1970's and was on the FA of H&L Feather Canyon) was climbing at the Pinnacles before many of us were born!

All-in-all the event seemed to be a great success and everyone appeared to have a good time and be looking forward to next year's event. If you couldn't make it this year we hope to see you next time around.

A big shout out to all Park officials, participants and attendees, too many to list here. The cooperation and camaraderie of all involved made this year's Rockpile Rendezvous a definite success.
Here are some photos from the event <click thumbnails to enlarge - popup blockers may prevent these from displaying>
Tarantula Tarantula Tarantula Tarantula Tarantula
Rockpile Booths Search & Rescue FOP Booth Bolt Board Ignorable Cliffs

Important Closure Update (Discovery Wall) - New Raptor Activity (03/16/2009)

FOP Board Introduction:

For those of you reading this request for closures on Discovery Wall, we here at FOP wanted to add a little perspective. Since FOP was started in 1990 the Park has NEVER asked for unnecessary closes. Nor have they ever closed any part of Discovery Wall. While this is definitely an inconvenience for many climbers we strongly support the Park's actions in no small part due to the history of cooperation and sensitivity the Park has demonstrated to the climbing community as evidenced by the limitation of this proposed closure to only 6 routes. FOP has every assurance from the Park that this situation will be closely monitored and we (the climbing community) will be kept informed.

Summary of Requested Closures
(numbers refer to route numbers in Young guide)

Pillbox Area

  • Pillbox Crack (49)
  • Nailbox Crack (50)
  • Coffin Nail (51)
  • Mustache (52)

Discovery Wall

  • Racing Stripes (53)
  • Melvin (54)

From the Park Service

We have confirmed a territorial prairie falcon pair that is occupying the Discovery Wall area. We believe this is the first time that a prairie falcon pair has ever been documented in the area. From what we can tell, the pair is preparing a cliff cavity site used in past years by ravens and barn owls. The site is about halfway between Mustache and Melvin.

We know that it is not practical or desirable to try to close most of Discovery Wall to climbers, and are not even considering that. What we hope to do is to set up a partial advisory area starting at Melvin and extending south to Pillbox Crack, and including all the climbs in between, as well as the section of climber access trail at the cliff base inclusive of just these climbs. We know that folks enjoy climbing Racing Stripes and Melvin, but this is the smallest closure we can establish and still give the birds a chance to nest in the area. All other climbs - Between A Rock and A Hard Place and north, and Moses Spring Wall and south - will still be open.

The Park is grateful for all climber support in observing these closures in hopes of minimizing use and disturbance to the birds. We are very excited to have a falcon pair nesting there, if they can tolerate hikers and climbers in the general area.

Additional revised closure updates will be posted as soon as the falcons start incubating eggs (i.e. nesting), which looks like it will be in early April or so. However, there are a few locations we should be able to open up in the next couple of weeks, barring any very late arrivals of raptor pairs.

2009 Raptor Nesting Update (01/30/2009)

The following is an excerpt from a recent memo released by Pinnacles' Raptor Biologist, Gavin Emmons. Please be aware that full climbing closures are still in effect. For details regarding closures see our Closures Update.

For those who don't know me, my name is Gavin Emmons, and I have returned for a seventh season as the raptor biologist at Pinnacles National Monument. I just wanted to send everyone an update as to the status of raptors for the past month.

Prairie falcons (PRFA) have returned to Pinnacles and are establishing territories and engaging in courtship displays. A peregrine falcon (PEFA) pair that nested last year – for the fourth consecutive year –wintered at the park. The male and female peregrine falcons have both been observed in the Hawkins area, calling to each other and engaging in courtship displays. The first prairie falcon pair was confirmed at Crowley Towers on 6 January. At present the following have been documented: 6 territories with PRFA pairs, 2 more territories with single prairie falcons, and the PEFA territory. These are listed below:

  • Scout Peak: Single PRFA, pair possible
  • Teapot Dome / Egg: PRFA pair
  • Hawkins Peak: PEFA pair
  • Crowley Towers: PRFA pair
  • Little Pinnacles (Yaks): PRFA pair
  • South / North Balconies: PRFA pair
  • Machete: PRFA pair
  • Drywall: PRFA pair
  • North Chalone Peak: Single PRFA, pair possible

In general, PRFA activity this season seems to be proceeding on normal annual occupancy and courtship schedules, and possibly a bit early. Some of the unoccupied territories listed above may have active falcon pairs that arrive later in the season by February or March. A PRFA pair is again occupying the Machete territory, and advisories are in effect to include the upper southwest face of Machete as a partial advisory area for the season.

Please note that climbing and hiking advisories are in effect. Raptor advisory signs have been placed at Hawkins, Scout, Balconies, Little Pinnacles, and on the path to Frog / Hand to protect these sensitive species from the pressures of hiking and climbing during the upcoming nesting season. Any assistance park staff can provide in diverting visitors from advisory areas, and reporting incidents of climbers and hikers in advisory areas to law enforcement staff, is highly appreciated!

Gavin Emmons, Raptor Biologist

Pinnacles National Monument Turns 101 Years Old (01/14/2009)

On Friday, January 16, 2009, Pinnacles National Monument transitions to its second 100 years. "Harnessing the momentum gained from the people, relationships and events of recent years, Pinnacles hosts the first of many events launching the park into its second century. Friday, January 16th through Sunday, January 18th Pinnacles celebrates its 101st Birthday" announced Michael Rupp, Pinnacles Centennial Ranger.

  • Pinnacles 101
    Friday night, 7:00 pm
    Campground Amphitheater
    Join a park ranger for this informational program that will cover the basics of Pinnacles, including things you can see, hikes you can take, and ways to make the most of your weekend.

  • Geology 101
    Saturday and Sunday, 3:00 pm
    Bear Gulch Nature Center
    Come learn about the fiery past and slow-moving present of the rocks at Pinnacles, and what changes to expect in the next century.

  • Condors 101
    Saturday and Sunday 9:00 to 11:00 am and 3:00 to 5:00 pm
    Spotting Scopes located in the Campground
    Stop by anytime during these informal talks to learn what the next 100 years may have in store for California condors and the condor program here at Pinnacles.

  • Habitat Restoration 101
    Saturday and Sunday 10:00 am to 12:00 pm
    Pinnacles Visitor Center
    Campground Learn about these botanical threats and how park staff manages these invasive plants. Stick around to try your hand at pulling Horehound (Marrubium vulgare), a common campground weed

"Pinnacles is at a very pivotal point in its history and this birthday is an excellent springboard to continue moving forward into the next 100 years," continued Rupp.

Additional activities and events planned for 2009 include:

  • The second Artist in Parks program
  • Star Parties
  • public meetings
    to discuss a proposed preferred alternative for the park's General Management Plan
  • Rockpile Rendezvous
    (a celebration of rock climbing in the park)
  • Jr. Ranger Day
  • Condor Celebration days
  • Community Celebration day

Just to name a few. A complete list of 2009 activities will be available by late January.

General Management Plan Update (11/19/2008)

The Park service is in the early phases of developing their General Management Plan. This plan determines the guidelines for managing the park for the next 15 to 20 years and will affect all activities and resources in the park.

The current phase under development is the Assessment evaluation. Get details on the Assessment and the GMP. This phase will determine the driving philosophy behind the actions taken in the GMP.

You can help! (Assessment Feedback Form)

Friends of Pinnacles has developed a Web-based form that will help the Park understand how you use the park now and what you would like to see for the future. Even if you have NEVER been to Pinnacles, your feedback is valuable. We've done our best to keep the form short and simple, so please take a moment to complete and send your feedback today!

Rain Alters Plans for Condor Release (10/31/2008)

Due to the series of storms predicted to hit central California over the next several days, Pinnacles will not attempt to release two juvenile California condors on Saturday, November 1st, as previously planned. "We choose not to risk the health and safety of Pinnacles newest juvenile condors by exposing them to inclement weather immediately upon release into an unfamiliar environment" explained Eric Brunnemann, Superintendent of Pinnacles National Monument.

Because of the high number of visitors who normally attend this event, the park will still offer many of the same activities throughout the day. The event area will be relocated to the field adjacent to Pinnacles Visitor Center in the campground with activities from 8:00am to 3:00pm. All of the ranger programs, information booths and education tables will still occur, and biologists will be on hand to answer questions.

New and rescheduled programs:

  • Friday, October 31
7:00pm - Welcome program at the campground amphitheater

  • Saturday, November 1
8:00am, 9:00am and 10:00am – Ranger/condor biologist led walks to the condor viewing area, special access to this normally closed section of the park will be allowed via these walks. Walks will allow views of this seldom seen portion of the park and get a rare glimpse at the flight pen and the captive juvenile condors. In addition, it will offer the potential to see wild flying condors in the vicinity of the flight pen. Programs are limited to 20 people per hike. Hikes will depart from Pinnacles Visitor Center. Please register for a hike upon arrival at the event.

NOTE: Severe Weather May Cancel Hikes.

  • 1:30pm – Condor Talk by John Moir at Pinnacles Visitor Center, (author of Return of the Condor) [tentative]
  • 6:30pm - Amphitheater Program by a Pinnacles wildlife/condor biologist at the campground amphitheater

The two condors previously scheduled to be released Saturday will be released without a public event at a later date. The other five will remain in captivity for another one to two additional weeks to help ensure that the free-flying birds remain nearby for biologists to monitor.

"We are encouraged by the success of this program and the support of the local communities and park neighbors," said Brunnemann. "The return of the California condor to the central coast of California provides excellent opportunities for condor viewing in the park, and we are proud to be a part of the recovery of this magnificent species."

All of Pinnacles' releases have been "soft releases" using a double-door trap because it is less stressful on the birds. This technique relies on using a special trap built into the side of the flight pen, one door being open to the inside of the pen and the other to outside and freedom. The interior door normally remains open to allow the condors to become familiar with the interior of the trap. For release purposes, once a condor enters the trap, the inner door is closed and the outer door is opened to allow it to fly free.

This is the fifth release of the endangered birds at Pinnacles. Ultimately, project biologists anticipate building a sustainable population of up to 30 condors at Pinnacles, a historic condor nesting area, over the next several years. The reintroduction of California condors to Pinnacles is a cooperative effort between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Ventana Wildlife Society and Pinnacles Partnership in collaboration with the California Condor Recovery Team.

Pinnacles Partnership, a friends group formed by several local citizens in 2006, supports projects at Pinnacles that are critical to protecting and restoring park lands. These projects range from supporting condor recovery efforts at Pinnacles, celebrating the park's centennial anniversary, and supporting schools' abilities to use Pinnacles as an outdoor classroom. This non-profit organization exists thanks to caring contributors in the community.

Ventana Wildlife Society, which has been conducting condor releases in Big Sur, California since 1997, teamed up with the National Park Service in 2002 to reintroduce condors to Pinnacles National Monument.

The San Diego Wild Animal Park, Los Angeles Zoo, the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho and the Oregon Zoo breed condors destined for release in California, Arizona, and Baja, Mexico. The Pinnacles condor release is an important link in the overall condor recovery effort.

From a population low of 22 birds in the mid-1980s, condors have rebounded through intensive captive breeding efforts and rigorous educational programs explaining human-caused threats to condors' survival. Especially important is work that the Institute for Wildlife Studies is doing to demonstrate the connection of lead ammunition fragments to condor mortality and the availability of non-lead alternatives. As of September 30, 2008, the total world population of California condors was 165 in captivity and 162 are in the wild.

Condor Release Event - Details (10/27/2008)

Information for press covering the condor release Please RSVP to ensure a press packet will be available

Event/Location: Pinnacles National Monument California Condor Release Saturday, November 01, 2008 at Pinnacles National Monument 32 miles south of Hollister

Event Schedule

  • 7:00 – 8:00
Press meets at the Peaks View Picnic Area at Pinnacles National Monument. Identify yourself as press to the ranger at the park entrance, and you will be directed to the Peaks View parking area. Meet to pick up press packet for the event from Park Ranger Carl Brenner (to ensure there are enough press packets, please leave a conformation message at Carl's extension, 831-389-4486 ext 265 or email at carl_brenner@nps.gov)).

  • 8:00
Hike to release viewing area (about 45 minutes). Contact the park for special arrangements to transport photography equipment to the release viewing site.

  • 9:00 – 9:30
Release viewing site, podium area. Interview opportunity with Eric Brunnemann (Superintendent, Pinnacles National Monument), condor project staff (Jim Petterson and Daniel George), and other dignitaries, to be announced.

  • 10:00 –10:30
Pre-release program. Speakers: Eric Brunnemann (Superintendent, Pinnacles National Monument), Reb Monaco (San Benito County Supervisor ) Daniel George (Condor Biologist, Pinnacles), Val Lopez (Tribal Chairperson, Amah Mutsun Tribal Band of Ohlone/Costanoan Indians).

  • 10:30
Release begins

NOTE: We have chosen to do a "soft release" because it will be less stressful on the birds. There is a double-door trap: one door opens to the inside of the pen and the other to outside and freedom. The interior door normally remains open to allow the condors to become familiar with the interior of the trap. For release purposes, once a condor enters the trap, the inner door is closed and the outer door is opened to allow it to fly free. There is, however, a chance that no birds will enter the trap. If this happens, the release will be postponed.

  • 1:00
Event ends.

  • 2:30
Condor Talk by John Moir at Pinnacles Visitor Center, (author of Return of the Condor) (tentative)

  • 6:30
Amphitheater Program by a Pinnacles wildlife/condor biologist at the campground amphitheater

Additional information:

  • Remember to bring plenty of water and lunch; wear good walking shoes and layered clothing.
  • There is no cell phone service available in the park, pay phones are available at the Pinnacles Visitor Center/campstore and Bear Gulch Nature Center.
  • Rain will cancel the event.

Public Invited to Witness First Flight of Two Juvenile California Condors (10/22/2008)

On Saturday, November 1, up to 2 California condors will be released into the wild at Pinnacles National Monument, 80 miles south of San Jose. The public is invited to attend the event, with ceremonies beginning at 10:00 a.m., to witness the first free flights of these condors from a viewing area located approximately 3/4 mile from the release site. This viewing area is normally closed to the public. The release will take place on the east side of the park off of Highway 25. Shuttle services from designated parking areas will transport guests to within 1.5 miles of the viewing area. Guests unable to walk the trail can request special assistance. Spotting scopes or binoculars, water, layered clothing, portable chair, a picnic lunch, and good hiking shoes are highly recommended. Car pooling is encouraged since parking is limited, and is on a first come, first served basis. Arrival between 7:30 and 8:30 is recommended in order to reach the viewing area before 10 a.m. Because of the significance of this event, Superintendent Eric Brunnemann has waived the entrance fees for the day so that everyone has the opportunity to participate.

"We are encouraged by the success of this program and the support of the local communities and park neighbors," said Brunnemann. "The return of the California condor to the central coast of California provides excellent opportunities for condor viewing in the park, and we are proud to be a part of the recovery of this magnificent species."

Seven juvenile condors -- 3 female and 4 male -- will be set free in Pinnacles National Monument this fall, joining the park's fifteen wild resident condors. Up to 2 birds may be "soft released" through a double-door trap released on November 1, and once these birds give indications that are acclimating to their new surroundings, the park plans to release the remaining juveniles over the following weeks. There is a chance that no birds will enter the trap on the day of the event. However, there is a good chance to see previously released free flying birds. The 1-2 year old juvenile condors are a result of successful captive breeding programs at the Peregrine Fund World Center of Birds of Prey in Boise, ID and the Los Angeles Zoo. All of Pinnacles' releases have been "soft releases" using a double-door trap because it is less stressful on the birds. This technique relies on using a special trap built into the side of the flight pen, one door being open to the inside of the pen and the other to outside and freedom. The interior door normally remains open to allow the condors to become familiar with the interior of the trap. For release purposes, once a condor enters the trap, the inner door is closed and the outer door is opened to allow it to fly free.

This is the fifth release of the endangered birds at Pinnacles. Ultimately, project biologists anticipate building a sustainable population of up to 30 condors at Pinnacles, a historic condor nesting area, over the next several years. The reintroduction of California condors to Pinnacles is a cooperative effort between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Ventana Wildlife Society and Pinnacles Partnership in collaboration with the California Condor Recovery Team.

Pinnacles Partnership, a friends group formed by several local citizens in 2006, supports projects at Pinnacles that are critical to protecting and restoring park lands. These projects range from supporting condor recovery efforts at Pinnacles, celebrating the park's centennial anniversary, and supporting schools' abilities to use Pinnacles as an outdoor classroom. This non-profit organization exists thanks to caring contributors in the community.

Ventana Wildlife Society, which has been conducting condor releases in Big Sur, California since 1997, teamed up with the National Park Service in 2002 to reintroduce condors to Pinnacles National Monument.

The San Diego Wild Animal Park, Los Angeles Zoo, the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho and the Oregon Zoo breed condors destined for release in California, Arizona, and Baja, Mexico. The Pinnacles condor release is an important link in the overall condor recovery effort.

From a population low of 22 birds in the mid-1980s, condors have rebounded through intensive captive breeding efforts and rigorous educational programs explaining human-caused threats to condors' survival. Especially important is work that the Institute for Wildlife Studies is doing to demonstrate the connection of lead ammunition fragments to condor mortality and the availability of non-lead alternatives. As of September 30, 2008, the total world population of California condors was 165 in captivity and 162 are in the wild.

Further details of the release event are available on the Pinnacles National Monument website or by calling Pinnacles National Monument at 831-389-4485.

Weakened California Condor is Rushed to Los Angeles Zoo for Treatment (09/06/2008)

A subadult California condor was captured today along the Big Sur coastline and found to be in very weakened and debilitated physical condition. Ventana Wildlife Society biologists were alerted by a local resident on September 2 that had seen a condor on the ground and behaving oddly. Over the next two days, biologists closely monitored her activity and attempting to trap California condor #336 using nets, but she still had enough strength to fly into nearby trees when approached. On September 5, Ventana and Pinnacles biologists finally captured her as she was perched on the ground and unable to successfully take flight. Upon capture, she offered little resistance, was very weak and dehydrated, and weighed only 11 pounds, well below her usual 16-17 pound range. A local Monterey veterinary hospital examined her and found no external physical injuries that would have prevented her from flying. They gave her intravenous and subcutaneous fluids to treat the dehydration and X-rays showed that no radio-opaque metal fragments (lead) were found in her gastrointestinal tract. However, preliminary tests indicated elevated blood lead levels that resulted in the condor being rushed to the Los Angeles Zoo where she will undergo immediate emergency medical treatment in an attempt to save her life.

"Condor 336 was perhaps our most well-known condor having been featured for the last year in a YouTube film clip show her devouring a deer heart," said National Park Service Superintendent Eric Brunnemann. The 4 year old female had been released at Pinnacles National Monument in the fall of 2005 and has become part of the central coast California condor flock.

From a population low of 22 birds in the mid 1980s, California condors are making a slow, but steady recovery through intensive captive breeding efforts and public education programs. As of August 2008, 176 California condors live in captivity, and 156 are in the wild, with 82 of those found in California. The initial goal for the state of California is to have 150 free flying condors. Currently, there are 41 free-flying condors that call this part of central California home and frequently fly back and forth between Pinnacles and the Ventana Wildlife Society release site on the Big Sur coast.

The California condor recovery program is a collaborative effort with the Ventana Wildlife Society, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California State Fish and Game, National Park Service, the Peregrine Fund, Santa Barbara Zoo and the USDA Forest Service as well as the captive breeding institutions of San Diego Wild Animal Park, Los Angeles Zoo, Oregon Zoo, and the World Center for Birds of Prey.

www.nps.gov/pinn

The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage. Established in 1908, Pinnacles National Monument preserves 26,000 acres encompassing the spectacular remnants of an ancient volcano, talus caves, a rich array of California native plant and animal communities, and a vibrant cultural and historical legacy. Pinnacles is a highly dynamic landscape, shaped by earthquakes, floods and fires. Nearly 70 percent of the park is designated wilderness, and preserves the wilderness qualities of unspoiled habitat, natural quiet, dark night skies and solitude in a rapidly developing region of California. Pinnacles National Monument is the first national park unit to serve as a release site for California condors.

www.ventanaws.org

Ventana Wildlife Society has been saving native California wildlife through research, restoration and education for more than twenty-five years. In 1997, their expertise in wildlife restoration allowed VWS to become the first private, non-profit organization to be responsible for releasing and monitoring California condors in the wild. In addition to their work with condors, VWS has been involved with the restoration of prairie falcons, peregrine falcons and bald eagles to the Big Sur and Central Coast Region. VWS also monitors songbird populations and carries out a number of research contracts through the Big Sur Ornithology Lab, including identifying bird responses to habitat restoration and tracking monarch butterfly population fluctuations and migration patterns. Ventana Wildlife Society also provides innovative and exciting environmental education and internship opportunities to youth and young adults throughout the Central Coast Region.

Comments Invited for General Management Plan Alternatives (08/01/2008)

Public Comments Invited for General Management Plan Alternatives Pinnacles National Monument announces the opening of the public comment period for the park's General Management Plan Alternatives– August 1 to October 31, 2008

Pinnacles National Monument is hosting public meetings at Jefferson School in Paicines; San Benito County Library, in Hollister; and Soledad High School – Mission Room, Soledad California, August 25 – 27, to solicit input about the park's new general management plan (GMP) 'Alternatives', which will determine the park's management direction for the next 15 to 20 years. "We'd like to hear from you. Your comments will help us understand the impacts of these proposals and develop a long range plan for Pinnacles that reflects your perspectives." requests Eric Brunnemann, Superintendent, Pinnacles National Monument. The public is encouraged to attend, learn about the alternatives presented, provide input on these preliminary alternatives, and to share any additional ideas or comments with the planning team. A Newsletter containing information on the preliminary alternatives is available at: www.nps.gov/pinn/parkmgmt/planning.htm The comment period for Pinnacles GMP Alternatives will close at 11:59PM, October 31, 2008.

PUBLIC MEETINGS

During the comment period, three public meetings will be held. Participants will have the opportunity to talk with park staff, share their views on the preliminary alternatives, and submit written ideas and concerns.

Jefferson School

Where:
221 Old Hernandez Road
Paicines, CA 95043
When:
August 25, 2008
Monday (7:00 – 9:00 P.M.)

San Benito County Library

Where:
470 Fifth Street
Hollister, CA 95023
When:
August 26, 2008
Tuesday (4:30 – 6:30 P.M.)

Soledad High School – Mission Room

Where:
425 Gabilan Drive
Soledad, CA 93960
When:
August 27, 2008
Wednesday (6:00 – 8:00 P.M.)

The preliminary alternatives include different approaches to access and visitor services at the ranchlands; infrastructure and opportunities on the park's west side; locations of visitor contact facilities and park administrative functions; and new trails and recreational activities. Alternatives also address; education, research, recreation and wilderness values; natural and cultural resource protection; partnerships with neighboring communities, agencies and tribes; and other topics.

"Please tell us what you think about the preliminary alternatives. Do you like one particular alternative more than the others? Do you like various elements of each of the alternatives? Do you have an entirely different vision of how Pinnacles should be managed?" Brunnemann continued.

To submit 'Alternatives' comments -OR- to request a copy of the alternatives newsletter, contact the park in writing: Download Form www.nps.gov/pinn/parkmgmt/planning.htm Email pinn_gmp@nps.gov Online Comment Form www.nps.gov/pinn/parkmgmt/planning.htm Fax (831) 389-4489 Mail Pinnacles National Monument GMP 5000 Highway 146 Paicines, CA 95043

Prescribed Burns Delayed (06/17/2008)

Source: Denise Louie, Research and Resource Management Chief

Pinnacles National Monument's plan to burn 150 acres along the newly acquired bottomlands has been delayed because wildfire activity in the Central Coast and Northern California is pulling much needed fire resources from throughout the state. "While we have all put large amounts of effort to make this rx [prescribed] burn happen, We can not meet the holding and contingency personnel and equipment needed to accomplish the burn safely or within the context of the burn plan" stated Roger Wong, Fire Management Officer from Point Reyes National Seashore. "The fire management team agrees that burning the Bottomlands later in June or even early July is still within our window of opportunity to effectively control the Yellow Star Thistle population" explained Denise Louie, Pinnacles Research and Resource Management Chief. Once this wildfire activity relaxes, and fire fighters and equipment return home and can be recommitted to the burn, it will be rescheduled.

"Safety is the foremost objective in all fire management activities" stated Eric Brunnemann, Superintendent, Pinnacles National Monument. Prescribed fire is only conducted when the windspeed is low and the air is not too dry. Weather readings will be taken every hour or more during the burn. If an unforcasted weather event creates unfavorable conditions, the burn will be shut down. Extra firefighters and engines must also be on hand as an added precaution.

The lands recently added to the east side of Pinnacles National Monument include a large infestation of non-native yellow star-thistle. About 12 million acres in California are invaded with this aggressive weed. Three consecutive years of burning, in combination with other integrated plant management techniques, can effectively control yellow star-thistle. Prescribed fire can treat large areas quickly. Burning at the right time of year will greatly reduce the number of seeds that the plants will be able to produce. Fire also recycles nutrients back into the soil, and burns off dead mulch which stimulates the growth of native plants such as lupine, California poppies and perennial grasses. Prescribed burning is just one of the weed control techniques described in the "Integrated Tools to Address Degraded Lands Environmental Assessment" which will be released early this summer.

To receive an email when the burn day is confirmed, contact the park at 831-389-4486 x222 or denise_louie@nps.gov. General park information can be obtained by visiting www.nps.gov/pinn

Special Guests at Rockpile Rendezvous (06/03/2008)

Pinnacles climbing legend (Tom Higgins) along with Pinnacles guidebook author (Brad Young) will be conducting a Climbing History and Ethics walk & talk at this weekend's Rockpile Rendezvous.

If you have glanced at the NEW Pinnacles guidebook then you know the names Tom Higgins and Brad Young. Tom is a legendary First Ascentionist at Pinnacles and a pioneer of the modern ground-up ethic currently in place at the Park. Brad is an accomplished climber himself and author of the latest Pinnacles climbing guide.

Tom has graciously offered to attend the Rockpile Rendezvous as a guest of Friends of Pinnacles and to lead a Climbing History Walk as part of the event. He will be assisted by Brad Young who is literally a walking guidebook for the area.

Don't miss this opportunity to hear about the rich climbing history at Pinnacles National Monument straight from a man who was there AND get all the latest information regarding new routes in the Park! You may never have an opportunity like this again.

Guidebooks will be available on the day of the event.

We hope to see you there.

Rockpile Rendezvous (05/29/2008)

Event Details

Where: West Side Picnic Area
Date: Sat, July 7th
time: 10am to 3pm

Only one week to go before the Pinnacles National Park Rockpile Rendezvous. The Rockpile Rendezvous celebrates the legacy of conservation and the stewardship ethic that climbers have practiced at Pinnacles over the last 70 years.

Friends Of Pinnacles will have a booth at the event (come on by and say hello). In addition, the Park is welcoming the following attendees and activities:

  • local climbing groups and organizations
  • exhibits of climbing hardware past and present
  • low-impact climbing technique demonstrations
  • learn about the significance of Pinnacles in the history of technical climbing

This event will be a great chance for climbers to connect with each other and for non-climbers to immerse themselves in the climbing culture at Pinnacles.

See you on the 7th.

Homesteader’s Celebration Weekend (05/08/2008)

Homesteader’s Celebration Weekend Pinnacles National Monument is hosting a Homesteader’s Celebration on Memorial Day Weekend, May 24-26, 2008. This event will highlight the interaction between local Homesteaders and the land, and emphasize the resourcefulness and ingenuity of area inhabitants in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

Living History Demonstrations include:

  • Doll Making
  • Tin Punching
  • Ice Cream Making
  • Butter Making
  • Blacksmithing
  • and other examples of homesteaders activities

Descendents from homesteading families will be on hand to share stories and historic photographs, equipment and artifacts. See schedule below for topics, locations, and times.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

  • 10:00 am: Miner’s Walk, Chaparral Ranger Station, West Side
  • 10:00 am: Wildflower Walk, Bear Gulch Nature Center, East Side
  • 10:00 am – 2:00 pm: Local Book Feature and Signing, Bear Gulch Nature Center, East Side
  • 10:00 am – 3:00 pm: Living History Demonstrations, Visitor Center, East Side
  • 8:00 pm: Homesteading Program, Campground Amphitheater, East Side

Sunday, May 25, 2008

  • 10:00 am: Nature Walk, Chaparral Ranger Station, West Side
  • 10:00 am: Homestead Walk, Visitor Center, East Side
  • 10:00 am – 3:00 pm: Living History Demonstrations, Visitor Center, East Side
  • 6:00 pm: Homesteader Evening: Pedro (Local Card Game), Visitor Center, East Side

Monday, May 26, 2008

  • 10:00 am – 1:00 pm: Living History Demonstrations, Visitor Center, East Side
  • 10:00 am: Homestead Walk, Visitor Center, East Side

For more information about this event, please visit our Web site or call one of the event organizers:

Debbie Simmons 831-389-4579 debbie_simmons@nps.gov
Michael Rupp 831-389-4486 ext. 243 michael_rupp@nps.gov

Climbing Closures Updated (05/05/2008)

The Park Service, in its ongoing effort to work closely with us climbers, has started de-listing some climbing areas from the annual closures list.

For details on which areas have re-opened, check out the Closures Map

Pinnacles National Monument Hosts Rockpile Rendezvous (05/01/2008)

The Rockpile Rendezvous is Less Than a Month Away - June 7th

If you haven't heard (too busy climbing) the Park is celebrating it's 100th Anniversary! As part of that achievement they are sponsoring the Rockpile Rendezvous - a gathering of climbers in celebration of climbing at the Park.

FOP will be there along with dozens of other rock climbing related groups from across the state. Don't miss it! FOP will be sending reminders as the event gets closer.

The following is a recent posting from the Park Service:

Pinnacles National Monument is proud to celebrate the legacy of local climbing with the Rockpile Rendezvous. The event will be held June 7, 2008, from 10am to 3pm, on the West Side of Pinnacles. As part of the monument’s yearlong Centennial Celebration, Pinnacles is striving to engage communities in hopes of strengthening local involvement that has been a cornerstone of Pinnacles well before its creation 100 years ago.

The Rockpile Rendezvous will celebrate the legacy of conservation and the stewardship ethic that climbers have practiced at Pinnacles over the last 70 years. Pinnacles offers a variety of recreational and educational opportunities, and it is our goal to responsibly share these resources with the surrounding communities. Friends of Pinnacles, a local organization promoting responsible climbing practices, will be one of many participants. This event will be a great chance for climbers to connect with each other and for non-climbers to immerse themselves in the climbing culture at Pinnacles. For additional information please contact:

Scott Scherbinski
831-389-4486 ext. 276
scott_scherbinski@nps.gov

Climbing Closures Update (02/22/2008)

"You all may remember that a partial advisory was in effect last year for Machete Ridge because a territorial falcon pair decided to nest there. Well, the prairie falcon pair is back at Machete this year, and is inspecting and focusing on the site that they used last year, so the partial advisory will now be reinstated for the season."

Due to this new information the Park is adding specific areas of Machete Ridge to the Advisory list. The following is a list of the Routes effected:

  • The West Face
  • Bill's Bad Bolts
  • Bill's Bad Bolts Direct Finish
  • Rock Around the Clock
  • Pigeon Crack
  • Crackophobia
  • Son of Dawn Wall (2nd pitch and above)
  • Icarus

The Park Service appreciates the cooperation of climbers in respecting the nesting behaviors of these birds.

Climbing Advisories In Effect (01/17/2008)

January 17, 2008
For Immediate Release
Eric Brunnemann (831) 389-4486

Annual measures to protect nesting raptors of Pinnacles National Monument will be reinstated as of January 17, 2008, according to Park Superintendent Eric Brunnemann. Last year 12 pairs of prairie falcons produced a total of 33 fledglings. Additionally, the monument had successful nesting by Peregrine Falcons, American Kestrels, Red-tailed Hawks, Red-shouldered Hawks, Cooper’s Hawks, and Golden Eagles. Park researchers will continue to monitor raptors to better understand these interesting and beautiful birds. “We ask you to refrain from any off-trail hiking and climbing in sensitive areas which include the High Peaks, the Balconies Cliffs area, Little Pinnacles, Citadel, Goat Rock, Pipsqueak Pinnacle, Gargoyle/Piedras Bonitas, Frog/Hand, Egg Rock/Teapot Dome, and the Scout Peak area,” said Brunnemann. "Without your cooperation in avoiding the advisory areas, this program could not be the success that it is," he continued.

The specific locations of these sensitive areas are posted on information boards at trailheads, at the visitor centers, on our Web site or by calling (831)-389-4486 ext 0. You may also find the most current closure information on the FOP Web site.

For more information regarding the monument’s raptor monitoring program, please call the office of Research and Resource Management at 831-389-4486 extension 270.

Pinnacles Begins Centennial Celebration with Rededication Ceremony (01/11/2008)

  • Where: Pinnacles National Monument - Bear Gulch Nature Center (West Side)
  • When: Jan 18th, 2008 (10:30 AM)

Pinnacles National Monument will begin its yearlong Centennial Celebration on January 16th, 2008 with a Rededication Ceremony. Through a great effort of community initiative and support, Pinnacles was established as a national monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908. The monument was created to protect the unique geological formations and caves, and also to offer recreational opportunities for visitors. Pinnacles has grown to include areas of cultural importance to Native American communities, historical significance such as the trails built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and to preserve habitat for California’s native plants and animals.

The Rededication Ceremony will be held to honor the legacy of community involvement and stewardship that has been crucial to Pinnacles National Monument. It is because of this long-standing support that we pay tribute to the local community during our centennial and beyond. We are strengthening our commitment to these communities by reciprocating the dedication and support to those who have sustained us through the years. As we commemorate the past, we look to the next generation of stewards to ensure that Pinnacles National Monument stays relevant for the next 100 years.

The ceremony will begin at 10:30 am at Bear Gulch Nature Center with a Color Guard ceremony, a special appearance by Teddy and Edith Roosevelt and a proclamation from San Benito County Supervisor Reb Monaco. Presentations and proclamations will honor current and former park employees, and will be followed by remarks from the park Superintendent. Light refreshments and ranger programs will follow the ceremony.

Community Outreach Update (11/02/2007)

FOP had tons of fun at the October 14th Rangers' Community Outreach Party at the Monument!

FOP was among about a dozen participants with informational booths. There were Hispanic and Native American dance troupes putting on some amazing performances, the rangers were leading nature walks, and a taco truck was on hand to provide yummy eats for all.

The event was staged on the West side in the picnic area, next to the main parking lot, and entrance fees were waived for the day. The FOP booth was towards the end of the line, but we made it bright for maximum impact, and lots of people stopped to ask questions, chat, and pick up the #5 cam with a quizzical look.

Kelly brought Bruce's Bolt Board with various bolts pulled from routes in the Monument during FOP's rebolting efforts. This was a great example of "bad" protection, and also turned out to be a great way to demonstrate the most basic climbing concept--how you are protected by the rope and the bolt. Using the Bolt Board, Kelly was kind enough to show visitors how that worked over and over again; kids, and many adults, were fascinated. Climbing gear is basically a bunch of toys, which worked in our favor.

The group next to us, Naturalists-at-Large, had ropes on "Big Bad West" and "Passion Play" where they were belaying anyone who wanted to participate. So, people talked to us and got all excited about climbing, and then we passed them on to Naturalists-at-Large, where they got to apply what they learned from us.

People seemed to really enjoy themselves and the Park Service had the opportunity to educate the local community about the best ways to use their National Park. Most importantly, FOP got some great "face time" with the rangers and the Superintendent, discussing ideas for ways to increase our value to the park and to our members.

Special thanks to Bruce for the bolt board, Kelly for making the trip and being so darned entertaining, Denise for organizing the event and Eric and Carl for making us feel so welcome.
Here are some photos from the event <click thumbnails to enlarge>
Tarantula Tarantula Tarantula Tarantula Tarantula
The FOP Booth Dancer Dancers Tarantula Tarantula

New Pinnacles Climbing Guide Released (10/21/2007)

Pinnacles climbers have been waiting for over ten years for an updated guidebook and now that guide is here. Brad Young has put together the most thoroughly researched and fully comprehensive guide ever published:

  • Over 800 Route Listings
  • 96 Topos
  • 27 Finely Detailed Maps
  • Photos to supplement Maps and Topos
  • 14 Page Climbing History
  • First Ascent Notes
  • Routes By Rating
  • Complete Index
and more!
The new guide should be shipping in November and will be available for purchase at local gyms, climbing shops and Pinnacles National Park itself. We do not have information regarding Web resources for the guide, but FOP will keep you posted.

A huge shout out to Brad for all his work and to those who assisted him with the work. The new guide will definatley enhance the Pinnacles climbing experience.

New East Side Pinnacles Visitor Center (10/17/2007)

Beginning October 17, 2007, Pinnacles east side Visitor Center operations will move to the monument's campground store and Saturday, December 1, 2007, the monument will transition into operating the campground. "The Pinnacles Visitor Center will become the new starting point for visitors as they arrive on the monument's east side," explained Eric Brunnemann, Superintendent of Pinnacles National Monument. Fees for monument entrance and camping will be collected; sales of books and educational materials, in addition to camp store items will be available in the new Pinnacles Visitor Center. Additionally, visitors should stop at the Pinnacles Visitor Center to buy park passes, receive information about trails, ask questions, and get a park map. "This move begins to place our visitor services for the east side away from the heart of the monument's resources, and property locates them closer to the periphery," continued Brunnemann.

The Pinnacles Visitor Center phone number will be 831-389-4485. However, Pinnacles business number will change to 831-389-4486.

This new Pinnacles Visitor Center will be open from 9:00am until 5:00pm daily with hours increasing during the spring busy season. "This is a short term transitional operation as the monument begins to run the campground operation. Long term plans are being developed through the General Management Planning process currently underway," explained Brunnemann.

By late 2007 or early 2008, campers wishing to make reservations need to contact Reserve America at www.reserveamerica.com. Between December 1, 2007, and when reservations are handled by Reserve America, campsites are available on a walk-in basis only. At this time, Pinnacles does not have a specific date that reservations will be handled by Reserve America.

Please check the monument's web pages for updates.

The building that previously hosted the visitor center will now become the Bear Gulch Nature Center. The Nature Center will be open and operated by monument staff, Western National Parks Association, Volunteers, and park partners with reduced hours. The monument will continue to have exhibits, educational opportunities, and book sales from the Nature Center.

Road signage will be changed by late November to direct visitors from Highway 146 to the new visitor center. Park-wide changes in maps, trail signs, and our web site, will begin in earnest, but will take at least 12 months to complete. We ask for everyone's patience and understanding during this transition.

End of Season Raptor Report (09/21/2007)

The Park Service has posted a summary of the 2007 raptor season and there is a lot of good news: "During the 2007 breeding season, a total of 33 prairie falcons fledged from nine nests. Peregrine falcons also returned to the park, fledging three falcons from a nest in the High Peaks."

FOP would like to thank the entre climbing community that continues to help make this kind of result possible. Here's to continued success in 2008.

Visit the Park Web site to read the entire report.

Condors Have Highest Recorded Blood Lead Levels (08/15/2007)

Release Date: 08/07/2007
Contact: Carl Brenner, Supervisor, Interpretation & Education
Phone: (831) 389–4485 x265

Biologists at Pinnacles National Monument have captured all of the Pinnacles' flock of California condors, and any Big Sur birds in the area, after observing five condors feeding on a pig carcass shot outside the monument with lead ammunition. Tests revealed that nearly half of the 17 tested condors had elevated lead levels and condors 306, 318, and 242 have blood-lead values indicating lead poisoning, requiring immediate transport to the Los Angeles Zoo for emergency chelation. Chelation is a process for removing heavy metals such as lead from the bloodstream and lead poisoning is defined as levels of lead in a condor's bloodstream exceeding 40 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood (µg/dL). Of the remaining birds tested thus far, 10 had blood lead values indicating they were exposed to lead (15-30 µg/dL).

306 had a blood lead level of 164 µg/dL, the highest recorded for a Pinnacles bird and 242 from Big Sur had a 610 µg/dL reading, the highest recorded in California. "The level of lead found in these condors is alarming not only because they are some of the highest recorded levels but because we are unsure of the extent of developmental and long term health problems resulting from the significant amount of lead they have ingested" explained Court VanTassell, Wildlife Biologist for Pinnacles National Monument.

Pinnacles is assisting the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) in conducting research to identify the pathways for transmission of lead to California condors. Prior research has shown that lead ammunition is a significant source of lead exposure and poisonings in California condors. Biologists observed condors feeding on the carcass of a pig killed by lead bullets. Tissue samples from the pig carcass, the bullets that killed the pig, feather samples from the condors with elevated blood-lead levels, and blood samples from all of the birds suspected of feeding on this carcass were collected and sent to UCSC for analysis and possible identification of the pathway for lead transmission.

The Pinnacles condors may still face health problems because of the elevated levels of lead in their blood. Even in the birds where levels are not high enough to warrant emergency measures, the effects of long term exposure to non-lethal levels remains a significant question for researchers and biologists. Lead in a condor's bloodstream can be absorbed into its bones, where it can slowly leach back into the blood for an unknown length of time.

The vast majority of research on the health effects of lead exposure is based on humans, but comparisons can be made for animals. When a child's brain is developing, even low levels of lead in the body can slow the child's development and cause learning and behavioral problems. It can change the way blood-forming cells work, alter the way nerve cells signal each other, and disturb or destroy the way the brain makes connections for thinking. Lead is also known to be highly toxic to the kidneys and immune systems. Some of the Pinnacles condors are testing at four times the level that would initiate a medical response in humans as outlined by the Center for Disease Control. At this time, the effects of lead exposure on juvenile condors are only measured in mortality rates.

The local community has shown increasing support for the Condor Reintroduction Program. Local ranchers have helped biologists by notifying the park when condors are roosting on their property, voluntarily granting access to private property to allow biologists to better monitor the condors, and some have committed to using non-lead ammunition (or, if using leaded ammunition, some are burying or hiding carcasses from the condors.). Without community support, this opportunity to bring California condors back into the wild will not succeed.

Pinnacles Centennial Celebration (08/15/2007)

Release Date: 8/07/2007
Contact: Carl Brenner, Supervisor, Interpretation & Education
Phone: (831) 389 – 4485 x265

Save These Dates

  • January 16th, 2008 - Rededication Ceremony
  • March 28-30, 2008 – Pinnacles Centennial Celebration

Additional Programs and Events to be Announced

Present And Former Pinnacles National Monument Employees:

  • March 29, 2008 – Pinnacles Centennial Alumni Reunion

Alumnus can email michael_rupp@nps.gov to participate in the reunion festivities or to become re-involved with Pinnacles.

CONTACTS:

Climbing Areas Reopen (08/03/2007)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: 8/02/2007
Contact: Carl Brenner, Supervisor, Interpretation & Education
Phone: (831) 389–4485 x265

Climbing Areas Reopen

Rock formations subject to advisory closures to rock climbing and off-trail hiking for protecting nesting falcons and eagles have reopened. According to Superintendent Eric Brunnemann, "All sensitive areas have been reopened and will remain so until next January when the raptors return and begin to select nest areas."

A total of 9 prairie falcon nests successfully produced nestlings and fledged a total of 33 young. In addition to Golden Eagles, American Kestrels, Red-shouldered, Red-tailed, Sharp-shinned, and Cooper's Hawks producing young this year, 3 Peregrine Falcons fledged from a nest at Hawkins Peak. 2007 marks the 21st year of raptor monitoring at Pinnacles National Monument.

"We thank the climbers and hikers for their patience and support of our efforts to protect these spectacular birds of prey at Pinnacles. Without your cooperation in avoiding the advisory areas, this program could not be the success that it is," Brunnemann explained. Pinnacles' rock climbing advisories are lifted a few weeks after the nests have fledged. This allows the new fledglings some time to practice flying without being interrupted or disturbed by people.

For more information regarding raptor activity at Pinnacles National Monument, or the park's raptor monitoring program, please call the office of Research and Resource Management at 831-389-4485 x270.

FOP Adds Online Trip Reports (06/27/2007)

Friends Of Pinnacles has added a Trip Report section to their Web site. Now you can see what other people are doing at the park AND send in your own reports for others to read.

This is a great way to share your experiences and report on important climbing issues. Did you find loose rock? A bad bolt? Get some interesting news from one of the rangers? Put it all in a Trip Report and send it our way and we will post it online.

To view trip reports and send in your own go to our Trip Report section.

FOP

Help Us Preserve Climbing At Pinnacles (05/08/2007)

Help us preserve climbing at the park!

Work has begun on the creation of a General Park Management Plan for Pinnacles National Monument. This plan will include a Climbing Management Plan which will effect us all.

At this point the Park is doing what it calls: "scoping" for the plan. This basically means soliciting feedback from Park users regarding what they use the park for and what they would like to see done with the park in the future.

So, what does this mean to you?

Well, it is simple: NOW is the time to let the park know that there are a lot of us out here that climb at the Park and that it is important to us that climbing remain a supported activity for the Park Service.

What can you do to help?

Easy, Fill out the Parks scoping questionnaire.

Even easier - FOP has put the form on the FOP Web site so you can fill it out and send it in one easy step.

Pinnacles National Monument Awarded Junior