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FOP News Archives

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!

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 "crash-course" 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 Ranger Ambassadors Grant (04/27/2007)

Release: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Release Date: April 24, 2007
Contact: Carl Brenner, Supervisor, Interpretation &
Education Phone: (831) 389 – 4485 x265

Paicines – April 24, 2007 – Pinnacles National Monument announces that they have been selected to receive a 2007 Junior Ranger Ambassadors grant to support the development of a three level Junior Ranger booklet, design and implement its first fully articulated companion program for outreach (both within and outside of the monument), and make the entire program accessible to all children and families who visit or would like to visit Pinnacles. The Junior Ranger Ambassadors Initiative in its second year is made possible through the generous support of the National Park Foundation.

"This grant will create a Jr. Ranger program that is more meaningful to our younger visitors and their families," said Eric Brunnemann, Superintendent of Pinnacles National Monument. "We will be able to make connections to a more diverse audience of kids and include our visitors who speak languages other than English," continued Brunnemann.

National Park Foundation Junior Ranger Ambassador grants, awarded to 30 national parks sponsor Junior Ranger Ambassadors across the country to assist in developing and improving National Park Junior Ranger programs. The Junior Ranger Ambassador program, initiated in 2006, employs Student Conservation Association interns to assist with the design, delivery and promotion of National Park Junior Ranger Programs

The Junior Ranger program, created by the National Park Service in the 1960s, engages kids in age-appropriate activities that introduce them to the treasures of the national park system, allowing them to discover the significance of these special places and to understand the importance of protecting them. Today, the Junior Ranger program serves 383,639 children in 297 Parks and includes an online component, WebRangers which receives over 1 million visitors annually. Vist the WebRangers Web Site.

This announcement is the latest in the National Park Foundation's nationwide support of the Junior Ranger program. Since 2005, the Foundation has directed more than $2.5 million dollars in support of the program including support for the first ever Jr. Ranger Day, an annual celebration of Junior Rangers and the Junior Ranger Program during National Park Week.

"We know how important it is that our children have a connection to America through our national parks," said National Park Foundation President and CEO, Vin Cipolla. "We are proud to support the Junior Ranger program as part of our nationwide effort to connect children to America's heritage so that they can develop the sense of pride and ownership necessary to be the future stewards of these magnificent places."

About the National Park Foundation

The National Park Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization chartered by Congress in 1967 to continue a century-long tradition of private philanthropy ensuring funding to preserve and enhance the legacy of our National Parks. As the official non-profit partner of America's National Parks, the National Park Foundation does not receive federal appropriations for their support. The National Park Foundation serves to strengthen the connection between the American people and their national parks by raising private funds, making strategic grants, creating innovative partnerships and increasing public awareness. Support of the National Park Foundation ensures that the evolving history and rich heritage of our Nation remains vital and relevant.

Two California Condors Take First Free Flight at Monument (04/27/2007)

Release: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Release Date: April 24, 2007
Contact: Carl Brenner, Supervisor, Interpretation & Education
Phone: (831) 389 – 4485 x265

Two California Condors Take First Free Flight at Pinnacles National Monument

Tuesday, April 24, two California condors took their first flight to freedom at Pinnacles National Monument. Condors 400 (a female reared by parents, hatched on 04/11/06 at the World Center for Birds of Prey, The Peregrine Fund) and 401 (a male reared by parents, hatched on 04/13/06 at the World Center for Birds of Prey, The Peregrine Fund) are now members of the parks free flying flock of 15 condors. "Each took short awkward flights with a few of the previously released birds," explained Jim Petterson, Supervisory Wildlife Biologist at Pinnacles National Monument. "We will monitor these two for a couple days and if they integrate well with the flock, we will continue to release the remaining three birds," continued Petterson.

While the new condors are experiencing their first taste of freedom, previously released condor 332 is recuperating at the Los Angeles Zoo from an injury to his wing that occurred last week. He underwent a two hour operation to clean up a five inch wound on the leading edge of his left wing. The tendons and bones associated with that wing were not seriously damaged and the prognosis for his recovery is good. He will probably be at the zoo for a few weeks before returning to Pinnacles for re-releasing. The likely scenario that led to his injury was that he struck something while flying (e.g. a powerline or tree branch) and there was no evidence of a gunshot wound.

The two newest free flying condors were released using the same method attempted at the publicly attended release event over the weekend. Over 500 people made the journey to Pinnacles for this year's condor release event. Even though no condors ended up leaving the flight pen, several of the free-flying Pinnacles condors were soaring near the viewing area, which gave everyone a chance to see these endangered birds.

All of the 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.

Ultimately, project biologists anticipate releasing a sustainable population of up to 30 condors at Pinnacles, a historic breeding ground for the massive birds. The reintroduction of California condors to Pinnacles is a cooperative effort between the Ventana Wildlife Society, Pinnacles Partnership, and the National Park Service in partnership with the California Condor Recovery Team.

Celebrate National Park Week with Pinnacles (04/21/2007)

Release: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Release Date: April 17, 2007
Contact: Carl Brenner, Supervisor, Interpretation & Education
Phone: (831) 389 – 4485 x265 Celebrate National Park Week with Pinnacles National Monument

Join Pinnacles National Monument in celebrating National Park Week through a series of programs and events. Festivities begin with a public release of California condor on Saturday April 21, and culminate with Junior Ranger Day on Saturday April 28, 2007. The expanded schedule of National Park Week events is below.

National Park Week is an annual Presidentially proclaimed week to underscore our commitment to conserve our natural and historical treasures and encourage all people to enjoy, learn from, and protect these important parts of our heritage. This year's theme, "Connecting our Children to America's National Parks," reflects the National Park Service's commitment to encouraging young people to enjoy outdoor recreation and better appreciate our Nation's beauty and history.

On Saturday, April 21, up to three 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, which begins at 9:30 a.m., to witness the first free flights of these condors. 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 a mile and a quarter of viewing area. Guests unable to walk the remaining mile can request special assistance. Spotting scopes, binoculars, water, layered clothing and good hiking shoes are highly recommended. Parking is limited, and is on a first come, first served basis. Car pools are encouraged; arrival by 7:30 a.m. is recommended. Additional information is available at Pinnacles’ web page http://www.nps.gov/pinn/naturescience/condors.htm.

Junior Ranger Day centers around encouraging participation in the Junior Ranger program, which is designed to engage children and families in the stories embodied in their national parks. Children complete activity books that lead them through the park in a kid-friendly way. They are drawn to parts of the park story to which they can relate. When completed, they present their booklets to a ranger to earn a patch or badge and a certificate.

Date Event Location Time Note
April 21 California Condor Release Event East Pinnacles Recommended latest arrival 7:30 am www.nps.gov/pinn for more information
  Ranger-led hike Bear Gulch Visitor Center 10:30 am  
  Ranger Talk Bear Gulch Visitor Center 3:00 pm  
  Campground Program Campground Amphitheater 8:00 pm  
April 22 Ranger-led hike Bear Gulch Visitor Center 10:30 am  
  Ranger Talk Bear Gulch Visitor Center 3:00 pm  
April 28 Junior Ranger Day* Bear Gulch Visitor Center 10 am to 2 pm  
  Ranger-led hike Bear Gulch Visitor Center 10:30 am  
  Junior Ranger Hike* Bear Gulch Visitor Center 12 noon Reservations required, limit 35
  Ranger Talk Bear Gulch Visitor Center 3:00 pm  
April 29 Ranger-led hike Bear Gulch Visitor Center 10:30 am  
  Ranger Talk Bear Gulch Visitor Center 3:00 pm  

  • Junior Ranger Activities are for families with children from 3-13 years of age; parents must be in attendance.

General park information can be obtained by visiting our Web site or by calling 831-389-4485 extension 0.

More California Condors Will Fly Free at Pinnacles National Monument (04/10/2007)

Release: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Release Date: March 29, 2007
Contact: Carl Brenner, Supervisor, Interpretation & Education
Phone: (831) 389 – 4485 x265

More California Condors Will Fly Free at Pinnacles National Monument

On Saturday, April 21, up to three 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, which begins at 9:30 a.m., to witness the first free flights of these condors from a viewing area located approximately ¾ mile from the facility. 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 a mile and a quarter of viewing area. Guests unable to walk the remaining mile can request special assistance. Spotting scopes, binoculars, water, layered clothing and good hiking shoes are highly recommended. Parking is limited, and is on a first come, first served basis. Car pools are encouraged; arrival by 7:30 a.m. is recommended. 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 extremely encouraged by the success of this program and the support of the local communities and park neighbors," said Park Superintendent Eric Brunnemann. "The birds are thriving, the visitors are thrilled with routine condor sightings in the park, and we are proud to be a part of the recovery of this magnificent species."

Five juvenile condors -- 2 female and 3 male -- will be set free in Pinnacles National Monument this spring, joining the park's thirteen wild resident condors. Up to three birds may be "soft released" through a double-door trap on April 21, and once these birds give indications that are acclimating to their new surroundings, the others will likely be released over the following week. There is a chance that no birds will enter the trap. If this happens, the release will be postponed. The five juvenile condors are 10 months old and were hatched at the Peregrine Fund World Center of Birds of Prey in Boise, ID and the San Diego Wild Animal Park.

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 fourth release of the endangered birds at the park. Ultimately, project biologists anticipate releasing a sustainable population of up to 30 condors at Pinnacles, a historic breeding ground for the massive birds, over the next several years. The reintroduction of California condors to Pinnacles is a cooperative effort between Pinnacles Partnership, the Ventana Wildlife Society, and the National Park Service in partnership with the California Condor Recovery Team.

Pinnacles Partnership, a friends group formed by several local citizens, was established last fall to support projects at Pinnacles that are critical to protecting and restoring park lands. These projects range from sustaining the California condor reintroduction project, celebrating the park's centennial anniversary, and supporting schools' abilities to use Pinnacles as an outdoor classroom. This fledgling 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 2003 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 the connection of lead to condor mortality and the availability of non-lead alternatives. As of March 1, 2007, 151 California condors are in captivity, and 128 are in the wild. The initial goal for California is to have 150 free-flying condors in the state.

Further details of the release event are available on the Pinnacles National Monument website or by calling Pinnacles National Monument at 831-389-4485 extension 265.

General park information can be obtained by visiting our Web site or by calling 831-389-4485 extension 0.

PROPOSED Fee Increase for Pinnacles National Monument (03/30/2007)

Release: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Release Date: March 29 2007
Contact: Carl Brenner Supervisor Interpretation & Education
Phone: 389 – 4485 x265

PROPOSED Fee Increase for Pinnacles National Monument

The National Park Service proposes a fee increase for Pinnacles National Monument Beginning January 1 2008 entrance fees will increase from $5.00 to $10.00 per vehicle and from $3.00 to $5.00 per individual entering on bicycle by foot motorcycle or other individual means. Both are valid for a period of 7 days. Pinnacles Annual Pass will change from $15.00 to $20.00. The monument is one of the National Park Service areas selected to participate in a program which returns fees collected directly to the park in which they are collected.

"Eighty percent of the user fees collected are being returned to the parks where they are collected and they provide direct benefits to our visitors" said Superintendent Eric Brunnemann. "The proposed user fee increase will provide needed revenue which will be applied to our highest priority visitor needs" added Brunnemann. In recent years at Pinnacles user fee dollars have replace picnic tables improve trail accessibility upgrade restrooms and provide educational displays.

Sixty percent of the user fees returned to the park are required to go directly into deferred maintenance projects or to remove accessibility barriers and all must have a direct visitor connection. Some of the projects are: installing lower counter tops in the Bear Gulch Visitor Center; installing grab bars and lever type door hardware; harden sections of the Bench Trail tread to meet ADA standards for wheel chair accessibility; replace the deteriorated drinking fountains and surrounding walkways; repair 1930's CCC constructed roof on the Bear Gulch Visitor Center a severely deteriorated culvert and the historic walls along the lower section of the High Peaks Trail; replace damaged picnic tables & fire rings & rehabilitate camp sites in newly acquired campground; and rehabilitate and bring into compliance the waste disposal system for the Bear Gulch area; construction and maintenance of trails; reintroduce California condors to the park; maintain and improve the park's transportation system.

General park information can found on the NPS Web site

or by calling 831-389-4485 extension 0.

2007 Condor Release (03/01/2007)

Excerpted from Pinnacles Park Web Site

We are proud to announce that we will be welcoming the public to attend a California condor release on Saturday, April 21, 2007. The public can watch the release from a viewing area that is within sight of the release facility.

The time for the event has not been set yet, but it will begin sometime between 9:00 and 10:30 am on the east side of the monument.

The hike to the viewing area from the trailhead is about a mile and a quarter. Please bring water, snacks, hats, and sunscreen.

Parking spaces at Pinnacles are limited; we encourage carpooling. A shuttle will be in operation to provide transportation from parking areas to the trailhead for the viewing area.

More information about the event will be posted in the weeks to come.

Raptor Monitoring/Climbing Closures Update (03/01/2007)

Here is a raptor monitoring update for the past three weeks. Prairie falcons (PRFAs) and the Hawkins peregrine falcon (PEFA) pair have established territories and are inspecting potential cliff-cavity sites for nesting, with copulations and food exchanges from males to females becoming more frequent. At present there are 12 territories with PRFA pairs, 2 more territories with single prairie falcons, and the PEFA territory. These are listed below:

  • Goat Rock / Scout Peak : PRFA pair
  • Teapot Dome / Egg: PRFA pair
  • Hawkins Peak: PEFA pair
  • Crowley Towers: PRFA pair
  • Pig Canyon : Single PRFA pair
  • Pipsqueak Pinnacles / Scout Peak: PRFA pair
  • North Chalone Peak: Single PRFA, pair likely
  • Willow Spring Slide: PRFA pair
  • Little Pinnacles (Yaks) / Frog / Hand: PRFA pair
  • South Balconies: PRFA pair
  • Machete / Citadel: PRFA pair
  • North Wilderness Rock / Mating Rocks: Single PRFA, pair likely
  • D. Soto Canyon / High Trail West of Chalone Housing: PRFA pair
  • Drywall Slide: PRFA pair

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

  • Resurrection Wall
  • North Balconies
  • Prescribed Burn Cliffs

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

Prairie falcon pairs have been documented at South Balconies and at Machete Ridge this year. No prairie falcon nests have ever been confirmed at Machete, but the pair PRFA pair in the territory has been observed inspecting historical raven nests on several occasions. Active prairie falcon nests at Balconies and Machete could set up the possibility of the majority of west side climbing routes being under advisory this year. I will keep everyone posted on the developments! Otherwise, PRFA pairs are actively engaging in courtship displays, copulations, food exchanges, and site inspections in preparation for egg-laying and incubation.

The peregrine falcon pair has been observed perching at and circling above Hawkins Peak, engaging in copulations and nest site inspections, and stooping on turkey vultures and California condors in the Hawkins area.

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. 2 climbers were observed climbing on Hand in the Frog/Hand territory within the past 2 weeks. 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 three weeks. Of note is a golden eagle nest that was recently confirmed within park boundaries, on the west side of North Chalone Peak . This marks the first golden eagle nest documented within the park in several years. The golden eagle pair at the Eucalyptus Grove near the west side entrance to the park has also been confirmed nesting, currently incubating eggs at the historical site used for the past 4 years. A golden eagle pair has also been seen in Frog Canyon, ranging east to Drywall slide, and an additional golden eagle pair has been observed circling near the condor facility ridge on several occasions. Near Little Pinnacles, a single adult golden eagle with white-mottled plumage was also seen. This bird represents a rare but naturally occurring race of golden eagles rarely seen throughout the country, and documented nesting at Pinnacles National Monument occasionally in past years.

Red-tailed hawks have been observed throughout the park, with pairs active in the Kingman Land North, Upper Condor Gulch, South Wilderness North, Grassy Canyon, Western Front, Crowley Drainage, and Frog/Hand areas. Red-tailed hawk pairs are currently preparing stick nests on pine trees and cliff ledges, adding new nest material to sites. Red-tailed hawks have also been observed circling over Willow Spring Slide, near Guard Rock, and along the North Wilderness Trail.

Red-shouldered hawk pairs have been confirmed in the following territories: Kingman Land North, Pinnacles Campground, McCabe Canyon, the Bench Area, and the South Wilderness. Like red-tailed hawks, red-shouldered pairs are actively preparing nest sites, adding nest material to new and existing sites in riparian trees, and defending territories from other raptors with stooping and vocalizing.

Other raptors observed in the park in February include American kestrels, and the increasing presence of turkey vultures above the High Peaks . Cooper?s and sharp-shinned hawks are active throughout the park along riparian corridors, and have been observed in the Kingman Land North, near the Reservoir, along the North and South Wilderness Trails, near the Moses Spring parking lot, in Lower Condor Gulch, and on the west side near Chaparral Ranger Station, South Balconies, and Juniper Canyon. Great-horned owl vocalizations have been documented in upper Condor Gulch, at the base of Pipsqueak Pinnacles, and near the Reservoir. Long-eared owls have been heard again in the Chalone Housing to Trails Building area, hooting in the live oak overstory. Western screech-owls have been heard vocalizing near the Bear Gulch Visitor Center and Condor Gulch Road, and in the Pinnacles Campground. Immature northern harriers have been seen soaring over Little Pinnacles and near Scout Peak to Resurrection Wall in the High Peaks . Ospreys have also been seen circling over the central High Peaks on several occasions.

If you have any observations within the park to report, or any raptor-related questions, please contact me through email or my work extension, 270. Thanks

Gavin Emmons, Raptor Monitor Pinnacles National Monument 5000 Highway 146 Paicines, CA 95043 (831) 389-4485 x270

Join Pinnacles National Monument in Planning for the Next Century (02/16/2007)

Join Pinnacles National Monument in Planning for the Next Century.

The National Park Service (NPS) is seeking public input for a new general management plan (GMP) for Pinnacles National Monument. The general management plan will serve as a "blueprint" for guiding the park, which was established in 1908, into its second century. A general management plan identifies important park issues, visitor opportunities, and development goals while setting program objectives and directing resource protection programs for the next twenty years.

Everyone who is interested in Pinnacles National Monument is encouraged to participate in the planning process. The NPS is hosting public meetings in the area to explain the general management plan process and listen to public ideas and concerns.

Meeting Dates:

Wednesday, March 7th (7-9 pm)
Soledad High School Mission Room
425 Gabilan Drive Soledad, CA

Monday, March 19th (7-9 pm)
San Benito County Board of Supervisors Chambers
481 4th Street Hollister, CA

Tuesday, March 20th (7-9 pm)
Jefferson School Meeting Hall
221 Old Hernandez Road Paicines, CA

Saturday, March 24th (1-3 pm)
Santa Clara University Arts and Sciences Bldg (Building 804), Room 129
500 El Camino Real Santa Clara, CA

The public is also invited to share thoughts and ideas by mail, e-mail or through the park website. Comments can be mailed to: Pinnacles National Monument GMP, 5000 Highway 146, Paicines, CA95043, or e-mailed to pinn_gmp@nps.gov. The public comment period for this phase of the planning process extends through May 31st, 2007.

Background

Pinnacles National Monument preserves an ecologically rich, geologically spectacular, and culturally significant landscape in the Central Coast region of California. Established in 1908 and named fordramatic rock formations that are the remains of an ancient volcano, Pinnacles reflects a landscape shaped by earthquake, fire, and flood. Protected for nearly a century, Pinnacles today represents an unspoiled piece of historic California. The national monument is rich in plant and animal life residing in diverse habitats which include talus caves, chaparral, and oak woodland.

The early history of Pinnacles National Monument was characterized by local initiative and participation. Once established, its success and, at times, its very survival depended on the energy, enthusiasm, and commitment of local citizens and county organizations. The same holds true today.

The last general management plan for Pinnacles National Monument was completed in 1976. Since then, the national monument has grown in size and its staff and researchers continue to learn more about the significance of the Pinnacles' geology, ecosystems, and history. Pinnacles has made advances in resource protection, reintroducing California condors and California red-legged frogs, removing invasive exotic plants and destructive non-native pigs, restoring Chalone Creek, and rerouting Bear Gulch Cave Trail to protect Townsend's big-eared bat colonies while keeping cave routes open to visitors.

This general management planning effort initially started in 1998 but was put on hold until the purchase of Pinnacles Ranch was completed in March 2006. The Ranch provides new planning opportunities for the monument, including options for better parking and transportation, camping, education, and a wider range of opportunities for people with different interests and abilities.

A draft general management plan is expected to be available for public review in fall 2008. The final general management plan is scheduled for completion in 2009.

For more information:

  • Carl Brenner, Supervisor, Interpretation & Education, (831) 389-4485, ext. 265
  • Martha Crusius, Project Manager, (510) 817-1447
  • Pinnacles General Management Plan, Newsletter #1 (attached)
  • Pinnacles planning website

General park information can be obtained by visiting our Web Site or by calling 831-389-4485 extension 0.

Climbing Advisories Are In Effect (01/18/2007)

Release: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Release Date: January 11, 2007
Contact: Eric Brunnemann, Superintendent

Annual measures to protect nesting raptors of Pinnacles National Monument will be reinstated as of January 12, 2007, according to Park Superintendent Eric Brunnemann. Last year ten pairs of prairie falcons produced a total of 30 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 offtrail 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)-389-4485 ext 0.

For more information regarding the monument's raptor monitoring program, please call the office of Research and Resource Management at 831-389-4485 extension 270.

Pinnacles Partnership Program Launch (12/13/2006)

Pinnacles Partnership is a new not-for-profit organization that supports Pinnacles National Monument's priority projects.
We invite you to celebrate this special part of rural California and contribute to projects ranging from youth and education programs, habitat restoration, and the recovery of the California condor.

Together we can make a difference!

Your financial support at any level is deeply appreciated and is tax deductible through the Community Foundation of San Benito County.

To learn more or to make a donation please contact:

Pinnacles Partnership
5000 Highway 146
Paicines, CA 95043
www.pinnaclespartnership.org
info@pinnaclespartnership.org
(831) 389.4485 x239

<Click here> to view the Partnership Poster.

Machete Ridge Rescue Update (11/04/2006)

Brett Hergert
Search and Rescue/Emergency Medical Services Coordinator

In case there are still lingering questions, I was among the Pinnacles team that responded to the September rescue and am happy to provide additional details:

One climber was stranded after completing a partial descent of the West Face route. He ran out of rope on his descent, ending up in the 5.12/A1 section. His partner, who remained on the ridge, asked two passing climbers for assistance. Additional rope was lowered to the stranded climber. Communication between the parties was difficult or non-existent. After deciding their partner was either out of reach or unable to ascend the line, they called 911 via cell phone.

As with most cell phones, 911 calls do not go directly to NPS Dispatch. This call was routed to Monterey County. Upon arriving at the Monument, Monterey County SAR contacted the Chaparral Rangers. While additional Rangers were enroute from the east side of the monument, responding agencies utilized a CDF helicopter to perform two short-haul evolutions before dark. We were then able to contact the two remaining climbers via cell phone. They agreed to stay on the ridge, rather than attempt the gully descent in the dark. Early the next morning, a NPS team began climbing Old Original in order to contact the climbers. However, the party was able to complete the descent without assistance.

This incident emphasizes the need for self-rescue skills, including the ability to reverse your descent if necessary.

Opening of the Upper Portion of the Bear Gulch Cave (10/25/2006)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Bear Gulch Cave at Pinnacles National Monument will be completely open for the last seven days of October, October 25-31, 2006. After October 31st, only the lower half of the cave will remain open until mid May. The entire cave is open each March and October for approximately one 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 about 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.

2006 marks the 10th season for the maternity colony of Townsend’s Big-eared bats at Pinnacles National Monument. The success of this sensitive species reinforces the importance of the closure areas, and the part that all visitors play in ensuring the continuing species success. We thank the climbers and hikers for their patience and support of our efforts to protect our bats at Pinnacles.

When visiting the cave, please remember that it is the home of a sensitive species. To avoid disturbing the bats, please keep voices down and refrain from flash photography. 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.

General park information can be obtained by visiting our Web site or by calling 831-389-4485 extension 0.

Park Roads Temporarily Closed for Maintenance (10/16/2006)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

East Side Road Closure
Some park roads, on the east side of Pinnacles National Monument, will be partially closed on Wednesday, October 18 through Friday, October 20 for road maintenance. The road will be closed to traffic from the bridge at Chalone creek to the Moses Spring, Condor Gulch, and Bear Gulch (headquarters) areas. Only emergency traffic will be allowed to access these areas. The road will reopen on the morning of Saturday, October 21.

Visitors to the monument during the road closure will be able to park at the Peaks View area, the Old Pinnacles trailhead (in the Chalone area), and at the wayside before the closure. From the Peaks View and wayside parking areas, there is approximately a 1-mile walk to the visitor center area via the Bear Gulch Trail. Once in the visitor center area, all trailheads and restrooms will be accessible by foot, although brief waits may be necessary if equipment is present.

West Side Road Closure

The west side of Pinnacles National Monument will be closed for the entire day on Thursday, October 19 as the entrance road is being resurfaced. Due to the heavy equipment used and the lack of trails from the entrance into the park, the west side will be closed for the day. The road into the west side will reopen on the morning of Friday, October 20.

If you are traveling in the park after this maintenance, please drive carefully as the road surface may be slick.

General park information can be obtained by visiting our Web site or by calling 831-389-4485 extension 0.

Climbers Rescued Off Machete Ridge (09/20/2006)

Park Service Release

Additional Press Coverage:

The rescue of four stranded rock climbers ended successfully Monday morning, September 18, when the second two climbers, Hein Roehrig and Daniel Preda, safely made a short repel then scrambled down the remaining portion of their route. The first two climbers, Andre Herrera and Michael Fosnowski, were air lifted from the cliff Sunday evening by a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) helicopter.

The rescue of the stranded rock climbers began Sunday evening when one of the less experienced climbers left the planned route and was unable to climb back up. He and one other climber were airlifted from Machete Ridge, one of the tallest cliffs in the park, before it became too dark to safely use a helicopter. "After Park Rangers, CDF, and Monterey County Sheriff's Deputies assessed the remaining climbers’ condition, gear, and supplies to survive the night, we suspended the entire rescue operation finding it too risky to continue in the dark," said Dana Sullivan, Supervisory Law Enforcement Ranger at Pinnacles National Monument. "Two rangers remained in the field to monitor the climbers overnight." Just before 7:00 a.m., cold and tired, the remaining two climbers safely made the short repel then scrambled down the remaining portion of their original route. By 8:30 a.m. they were back on the trail and walking with rangers to the Chaparral parking area.

No one was injured during this incident. However, the outcome could have been tragically different. Whether hiking or climbing at Pinnacles, always remember you are in a wilderness area and help may be many hours away. Plan your trip ahead of time and take plenty of water and snacks. If you are planning a longer trip, let friends and/or family know where you aregoing, when you plan to return, and bring a jacket and flashlight incase you become lost or stranded.

General park information can be obtained by visiting the Web site or by calling (831) 389-4485 extension 0.

Unexpected Closing of the Bear Gulch Cave (09/15/2006)

Pinnacles National Monument has closed the Bear Gulch Cave because of an uncharacteristic movement by a maternity colony of Townsend's big-eared bats. The bats moved into the lower portion of the cave, which was open to the public, Labor Day weekend. The park is unsure why the colony has moved from the closed portion's quiet recesses to the open portion of the cave on such a busy weekend. "One possible explanation is that someone entered the closed portion of the cave and disturbed them," suggested Paul Johnson, Pinnacles Wildlife Biologist. "People illegally enter the closed part of the cave. This can cause major disruptions for the bats as they attempt to raise their young and are especially sensitive to human disturbance. We appreciate everyone's cooperation as the park manages this sensitive resource. Although we may never know, it's quite likely that the colony was ousted from its preferred location in the upper portion of the cave by human intrusion." The park will conduct surveys twice per week to monitor the presence and movement of the bats. When the colony has moved out of the lower portion of the cave, it will reopen.

2006 marks the 10th season for the maternity colony of Townsend Big-eared bats at Pinnacles National Monument. Though it is difficult to obtain the exact number in the maternity colony, park biologists have counted more than 350 during the hibernation season.

In October of 2004, the park installed a set of gates allowing the lower section of the cave to be enjoyed for approximately 10 months of the year. The entire cave is open each March and October for about one and up to four weeks, depending on the presence of the Townsend's Bigeared bat colony. 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 is normally closedfrom mid May through mid July to allow the bats to raise their young. Cave openings are not fixed dates and depend solely on the habits 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 and refrain from flash photography. 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 water, flashlights, and wear sturdy shoes. Seasonal streams run through both caves, and the rocks can be slippery when the stream is flowing. Check the park's web page or call the Bear Gulch Visitor Center for updates remembering that at any time a closure could occur if the bats alter their habits. Additional information about the park's talus caves and the bats who call them home, please visit the park's Bat Web pages

General park information can be obtained by visiting www.nps.gov/pinn or by calling 831- 389-4485 extension 0.

5000 Acres of Pinnacles Land Targeted for Development (08/28/2006)

Plan Summary
On August 16th a meeting sponsored by Philippine-based developer Romeo G. Roxas, and conducted by his daughter, Yvette Sullivan of Salinas along with Roxas' representative, Leon Katz was held at the Windmill Restaurant in Soledad. At this meeting a proposal to convert some 5000 acres of land in the hills above Soledad into a "city of learning" was presented to a group of concerned citizens, including Eric Brunnemann, Superintendent of the Pinnacles National Monument.

The plan itself is quite ambitious, the details of which are outlined in an excellent article in the Sunday Pinnacle written by Kate Woods.

What We Know
According to information gathered by Friends Of Pinnacles, this is not the first time that this sort of project has been proposed in the area. All previous attempts have met with fierce resistance and been dropped. Initially, fierce resistance seems to be the direction things are going to go this time around as well. The LandWatch Organization is spearheading organization of opposition to the plan.

The Next Meeting
A second meeting, in opposition to the plan, is being conducted today (Mon, Aug 28th) at 2 pm at the Soledad Information Center, 641 Front St., Soledad. LandWatch will be meeting with anyone who shows up. FOP will report on the results of that meeting as soon as we hear.

What Can You Do?
Friends Of Pinnacles will continue to monitor developments regarding this issue and report them as best we can, but we also urge those of you who are concerned to get involved.
Your best bet would be to contact LandWatch directly at (831) 422-9390.

Raptor Update - July 2006 (07/18/2006)

Hey everyone!

Here is the raptor monitoring update for mid-June to mid-July.

The 2006 raptor monitoring season at Pinnacles is finally wrapping up, with most raptor nests having succeeded in producing fledglings. This has been the best Pinnacles raptor monitoring season on record in regards to confirmed breeding records, nest sites, and species diversity, with 62 breeding records and 58 nests confirmed this year representing 12 species of raptors.

Prairie falcons (PRFAs) and the peregrine falcon (PEFA) pair have ended their breeding efforts for the year, with 10 PRFA nests producing 32 fledglings, and 4 PRFA nests failing due to predation or abandonment. The PEFA nest at Hawkins successfully fledged 3 young falcons for the second consecutive year. Perhaps the two most noteworthy PRFA nests were in the Pipsqueak Pinnacles and Mating Rocks territories, both fledging young falcons for the first time during the 20-year span of the raptor monitoring project.

Please note that all climbing and hiking advisories have been ended for the rest of the year. Climbers did a great job of staying out of the advisory areas this season. Only 1 of the 4 PRFA nest failures this year: the Teapot Dome nest - was in a high visitor-use area, and likely failed due to predation. This suggests that the raptor advisories did succeed in minimizing visitor disturbance to nesting raptors. Thanks to all the park staff that diverted visitors from advisory areas, and reported incidents of climbers and hikers in advisory areas. I really appreciate the information and assistance!

In addition to prairie and peregrine falcon nests, 43 other raptor nests were confirmed this year, as well as an additional 4 breeding records (with fledglings discovered very soon after flying from nest sites). Record high nest numbers were confirmed for many species, including red-tailed hawks (7), red-shouldered hawks (5), Cooper's hawks (7), great-horned owls (2), and barn owls (3). Nest records for 2 species - long-eared owls and white-tailed kites represent the first confirmed breeding records for both species in the 20 years of the raptor monitoring project. 1 of the white-tailed kite nests, along the South Wilderness Trail, still has kite nestlings and likely represents a second attempt after fledging a clutch of young observed earlier in the season.

Another exciting discovery this year has been the confirmation of 2 active turkey vulture nests in the park, one discovered by Ben Nugent (of the IWS pig crew) high on the south side of Mt. Defiance, and the other discovered by Eric Temple and Brendan Lukas of the Trails crew on the west side summit of South Chalone Peak. Turkey vultures likely nest within the park every year, but their behavior is cryptic and their nests can be very remotely located. Both nests have 2 vulture young and represent the first active vulture nests confirmed at Pinnacles since 1984!

Thank you to all the staff that have continued to provide assistance to the raptor monitoring project throughout the season. I sincerely appreciate the raptor observations and wildlife cards, the trail sign assistance (thank you Lisa!), and the observations of visitors in advisory areas through the season. Your contributions as park staff have made possible the comprehensive breeding and nesting records that I have been able to confirm this year. I sincerely appreciate the support and interest!

If you have any observations within the park to report, or any raptor-related questions, please contact me through email or my work extension, 270. Thanks! I will be sending out a copy of the 2006 report on breeding raptors at Pinnacles within several weeks!

Gavin Emmons, Raptor Monitor
Pinnacles National Monument
5000 Highway 146
Paicines, CA 95043
(831) 389-4485 x270

New Waste Displosal Option (07/14/2006)

Friends Of Pinnacles generally does NOT promote products or services unless they are non-profit and climbing related, but in this case I think we can make an exception:

With the many long hikes at Pinnacles and the lack of bathroom facilities, waste displosal is a serious concern. We all know that we are supposed to pack out our waste, but how many of us really do that?

Restop's new Waste Containment Pouch actually makes packing out waste doable. Not only can you contain the waste, but the smell as well. Inside the bag is a powder, a polymer/enzyme blend, which biodegrades and gels the waste, giving it EPA approval to be simply thrown in the trash after use.

Check out their Web site at whennaturecalls.com

The Future of the California CondorCommunity Meetings To Discuss Future Of California Condor (07/13/2006)

Pinnacles National Monument invites the public to a series of Community Forums to discuss how we can work together to help the California condor survive in the wild. We would like to hear everyone’s ideas and concerns. Pinnacles will provide the latest information about how our 13 free flying condors are doing.

  • Tues. July 25 (6:30 – 8:00 pm)
Jefferson School
221 Old Hernandez Rd
Paicines, CA

  • Wed. July 26 (6:30 – 8:00 pm)
King City Library
402 Broadway
King City, CA

  • Thurs. July 27 (6:30 – 8:00 pm)
San Benito Co. Library
470 5th St
Hollister, CA

  • Mon. July 31 (6:30 – 8:00 pm)
Soledad High School
Mission Room
425 Gabilan Dr
Soledad, CA

Pinnacles would like to expand the discussions in light of the recent traumatic recapture and emergency testing for rodenticides and lead in its California condors. Only one of the 13 birds from the monument underwent chelation treatment (the process of removing a heavy metal from the bloodstream) but all of the birds are at risk of re-exposure.

Additionally, anyone interested in establishing a Friends/Partnership Group for Pinnacles, please come to a meeting at San Benito Co. Library on Friday, July 21 from 12:00 – 5:00 pm.

General park information can be obtained by visiting the Web site or by calling (831) 389-4485 extension 0.

Condor 307 Treated For Elevated Blood Lead Levels (07/13/2006)

Biologists at Pinnacles National Monument were alarmed to find California condor 307 had dangerously elevated blood lead levels after finally capturing her last week. Initial field tests returned readings or 46.8 and 47.4 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood (µg/dL). "Field readings at this level are disturbing because lab results have consistently been 40 to 50% higher" explained Court Van Tassell, Wildlife Biologist for Pinnacles National Monument. Park biologists immediately began chelation treatments (shots of calcium EDTA, a compound that 'collects' lead in the blood and allows the bird to eliminate it from their system) on the evening of July 3, 2006. "Capturing 307 was difficult because she became spooked when we began trapping and she flew over to the San Luis reservoir area for three days before returning to the monument" said Van Tassell. "Her weight is still lower than we would like, about 15 lbs, but she is becoming more active and feeding more. We will be holding her for further observations and feedings for at least another week." The remaining captured birds have been re-released into the wild.

The Pinnacles condors may still face health problems because of the elevated levels of lead in their blood. While the levels measured are not high enough to warrant emergency measures, long term exposure to non-lethal levels remains a serious problem. Lead in a condor's bloodstream will be absorbed into its bones, where it can slowly leach back into the blood for more than a year.

Because the potential for re-exposure still exists, Pinnacles is organizing a series of community forums to discuss how everyone can work together to help the California Condor survive in the wild. They will be held from 6:30-8:00 pm at Jefferson School (Tues. July 25), King City Library (Wed. July 26), San Benito Co. Library (Thurs. July 27), and the Soledad High School Mission Room (Mon. July 31).

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 behavior 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. Some of the Pinnacles condors tested at three 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 ranching community has shown increasing support for the Condor Introduction Program. Ranchers helped biologists place a remote trap to capture the condors roosting outside the park after the birds were seen feeding on rodents that had been shot with lead ammunition and ranchers many have committed to using non-lead ammunition. Without their efforts, this opportunity to bring California condor back into the wild will not succeed.

Contacts:

  • Jim Petterson, Supervisory Wildlife Biologist, Pinnacles National Monument, (831) 389-4485 x 223
  • Denise Louie, Chief of Research and Resource Management, (831) 389-4485 x 222
  • Chris Ketchum, Ranch Foreman, Paicines Ranch, (831) 801-7910 (Local rancher who switched from lead ammunition to copper in response to the condor reintroduction.

General park information can be obtained by visiting the Web site or by calling (831) 389-4485 extension 0.

Possible Condor Poisoning (06/19/2006)

Biologists were alarmed to observe as many as 11 endangered California condors feeding outside the monument on rodents that had been shot with lead ammunition and/or poisoned with rodenticides. National Park Service biologists are now attempting to trap 11 of the monument’s 13 condors that were observed feeding on these rodents during the past week.

The monument’s Chief of Natural Resources, Denise Louie, explained, “We’re going to trap them and field test their blood for lead residues. We will also give them immediate treatment for the rodenticide. If their blood shows high levels of lead, then we’ll drive them straight to the Los Angeles Zoo for treatment.” Once at the Los Angeles Zoo, veterinarians will x- ray the affected birds to determine if lead fragments are still in their crop. If lead is found, the veterinarians will remove any fragments. The birds will then be held for an extended period while receiving daily shots of a compound (calcium EDTA) that ‘collects’ lead in the blood and allows the bird to eliminate it from their system. As of yet, no behavioral symptoms of poisoning have been observed, but due to the possibility of ingesting multiple poisons, immediate action must be taken.

In 1987, the last wild California condors were taken to zoos for an intensive captive- breeding program. In 2003, Pinnacles National Monument, a historic breeding area, partnered with the US Fish & Wildlife Service and the Ventana Wildlife Society to become the fifth area to reintroduce California condors. Both captive- breeding efforts and the reintroduction of condors back into the wild have been a great success, raising the overall population of condors from 22 to just under 300 birds. The monument is surrounded by undeveloped ranchland and the local ranching community has shown steady support for the reintroduction program.

The monument is the most accessible to the public of all the condor release sites, and is the only reintroduction site that invites the public to attend all releases. The reintroduction of such a "signature species" has already begun to increase visitation, and the Pinnacles Condor Program has drawn substantial positive public attention and national press. All partner agencies agree that the reintroduction is succeeding. Biologists have tracked condor flights ranging from northern Santa Clara County to the northern tip of San Luis Obispo County. During an exploratory flight to the Big Sur coast this month, two condors from Pinnacles met with condors from the Big Sur flock for the first time.

As the condors increase their range, they also expose themselves to potential hazards, such as lead poisoning. The consumption of lead fragments occurs when condors feed on animal carcasses that have been shot using lead bullets. Even microscopically small pieces of lead can be fatal for these birds because they become unable to process food when the lead paralyzes their digestive system. The poisoned bird quickly becomes very weak, mentally impaired, and either dies from starvation or is preyed upon by predators. Pinnacles’ biologists have been working with the local ranching community and have been largely successful in their efforts to reduce the use of lead ammunition by encouraging the use of non- lead alternatives.

The threat from lead poisoning is precisely why National Park Service biologists monitor condor movement patterns on a daily basis, as well as track them remotely using GPS technology and cameras. Earlier this year Pinnacles began posting photographs on its web page, taken by remote cameras at the monument’s feeding site. Now with the CondorCam, http://www.nps.gov/pinn/condor/condor.htm visitors can see these birds close up, while researchers use the same photos to gain critical information about the health of each animal. Contacts:

  • Jim Petterson, Pinnacles National Monument Senior Biologist, 831.389.4485 x 223
  • Denise Louie, Chief of Research and Resource Management, 831.389.4485 x 222
  • Chris Ketchum, Ranch Foreman, Paicines Ranch, 831.801.7910 (Local rancher who switched from lead ammunition to steel in response to the condor reintroduction)

General park information can be obtained by visiting www.nps.gov/pinn or by calling 831- 389- 4485 extension 0.

2006 Raptor Nesting Report (06/08/2006)

The 2006 season continues to go extremely well in regards to confirmation of raptor nesting at Pinnacles. To put this in perspective a bit, last year’s numbers were 27 raptor nests and 9 species of nesting raptors confirmed, both record highs through all previous years of the project. There are currently 54 documented raptor nests in the park, representing 12 species of raptors. These numbers represent the most nests, and the most nesting species, ever confirmed at Pinnacles in a single season.

Prairie falcons (PRFAs) and the peregrine falcon (PEFA) pair are actively feeding nestlings throughout the park, with falcon young already fledging (or flying for the first time) from a few nests. At present there are 6 active PRFA nests, 3 nests that have produced fledglings, 5 failed PRFA nests, a non-nesting PRFA pair at Little Pinnacles, and the PEFA pair with a confirmed nest.

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

PRFA nestlings at most nest sites are actively exercising their wings and have fully developed juvenile plumage, with young close to or already making initial flights from the nest sites.

The peregrine falcon nest has 3 nestlings that are exercising their wings, and should be flying within two to three days.

Please note that revised climbing and hiking advisories are in effect. So far, climbers have done a great job of staying out of the advisory areas. Hikers have been observed in the advisory area at Hawkins Peak, but did not disrupt the peregrine falcon nest in the territory.

In addition to prairie and peregrine falcon nests, 39 other raptor nests have been confirmed this year. One of the most recent noteworthy discoveries is a turkey vulture nest, discovered by Ben Nugent (of the IWS pig crew) with 2 nestlings confirmed in the cavity site. Although turkey vultures likely nest within the park every year, their behavior is very cryptic, and an active nest has not been confirmed since 1984!

A number of buteo pairs (red-tailed hawks and red-shouldered hawks) have already produced fledglings, with the rest feeding developing nestlings. At present, there are 3 red-tailed hawk (RTHA) nests and 1 red-shouldered hawk (RSHA) nest that still contain nestlings, with 4 RTHA and 4 RSHA nests successfully fledging young.

Golden eagles have also been seen regularly in and near the park over the past month. The eagle nest successfully fledged two eagle young from one of the historic nest sites.

Other diurnal (daytime) raptors with confirmed nests include American kestrels (AMKE), white-tailed kites (WTKI), and Cooper's hawks (COHA). White-tailed kites have never been confirmed nesting at Pinnacles National Monument before, and this year we have 5 confirmed nests for the species! Kestrel and kite nests are producing fledglings now, with a couple of late nests still active. Cooper's hawks typically produce young very late in the breeding season, in late June to July.

Other raptors observed in the park include sharp-shinned hawks, active throughout the park along riparian corridors, northern harriers over open grassland areas, and bald eagles and ospreys, observed infrequently above the High Peaks.

8 owl nests (and 2 additional fledging records) have also been documented this year, representing the 3 largest owl species that occur in the park: great-horned owls (GHOW), barn owls (BAOW), and long-eared owls (LEOW).

The long-eared owl nest did successfully produce two fledglings. The young have not been seen in two weeks, but are likely still perching on high oak branches in the area. The LEOW nest found in the South Wilderness was used last year by a sharp-shinned hawk pair, and was confirmed as a nest attempt and failure this year after the 3 nestlings were found below the nest, likely killed and eaten by predators.

Every detail on raptor behavior helps to provide a more complete picture of raptor breeding at the park.

If you have any observations within the park to report, or any raptor-related questions, please contact me at gavon_emmons@nps.gov or call (831)389-4485 ext 270.

Thanks!

Connecting Parks and Communities (05/12/2006)

Pinnacles National Monument is in a time of great transition. The recent reintroduction of endangered California condors coupled with the addition of significant new lands has focused increasing attention on this once- quiet park. However, neither of these events could be possible without the vision and commitment of a group of community members who began a grassroots campaign to preserve the Pinnacles Rocks in the early 1900’s. As Pinnacles approaches its 100 year anniversary, January 16, 2008, centennial celebration planning offers an outstanding opportunity to forge new connections with the diverse population that makes up the Central Coast region of California. Pinnacles is delighted to have the opportunity to work collaboratively with Pacific Gas & Electric to further engage our local communities. "Pacific Gas and Electric Company is pleased to partner with the National Parks Foundation and National Park Service on the Connecting Parks and Communities program at Pinnacles National Monument. The Pinnacles is an important natural resource for the Central Coast and we are pleased to support efforts to increase the community's engagement with the park," Dan Quigley, Director of Charitable Contributions, Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

Two planned events are to be held on the Monument’s west side on May 13, 2006 and in September 2007. "We are confident that our efforts will continue to move Pinnacles forward in its goal of sharing the park’s resources and values with the general public, especially improving our outreach to culturally diverse audiences," stated Park Superintendent Eric Brunnemann. "These opportunities will enable us to further develop our relationship with the local communities, encouraging them to take full advantage of all that Pinnacles has to offer, while promoting the National Park Service’s vision of connecting our parks with its surrounding communities."

It is hoped that these two Pinnacles Community Celebration events will evolve into an annual event that supports and encourages multicultural stewardship and ownership of the park. The Park Service’s mission is to preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of these pristine lands for this and all future generations. With the local communities supporting, enjoying and actively participating in their park, Pinnacles will continue to showcase a scenic and convenient national park full of recreational and educational opportunities into the future through these strong stewardship connections.

Additional information and other park information can be obtained by visiting our web site or by calling 831- 389- 4485 extension 0.

This project was made possible in part by a grant from the National Park Foundation through the generous support of Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

Lost & Found: Gear Found on West Side (04/22/2006)

Climbing Gear Found 04/21/06 - West Side.

email to: toolman@mtntools.com to identify & claim!

Free Shipping.

Ranchland to Parkland Transition Complete (04/17/2006)

Pinnacles National Monument is pleased to announce the acquisition of the Pinnacles Ranch and Campground. From the early Chalone and Mutsun peoples to the Spanish Missionaries to the homesteaders, such as the Bacons, Butterfields, and Strausses, this land has been known as home. Just as these people have welcomed friends and neighbors, the National Park Service welcomes people from all over the world. "This acquisition is continuing the National Park Service tradition of preserving our nation’s heritage," affirms Park Superintendent Eric Brunneman. "From the cultures that have resided in the Pinnacles area for thousands of years to future generations that have yet to visit, we invite everyone to discover the American tradition of National Parks."

The Pinnacles Ranch acquisition has been over a decade in the making and the focus of 5 monument superintendents. It will add almost 2,000 acres to the monument, increasing park lands to 26,425 acres. The acquisition not only preserves these important cultural sites, it ensures the protection of hunting and feeding grounds for many of the monument’s animals including the endangered California condor. Included within the ranchland is the Pinnacles Campground. Now concession managed, the Pinnacles Campground offers 36 R.V. sites with electrical hookups, 77 tent sites, and 15 group tent sites. Reservations can be made online through the concessionaire at www.pinncamp.com.

2006 Climbing Advisories/Closures Now In Effect (01/14/2006)

Annual measures to protect nesting raptors of Pinnacles National Monument will be reinstated as of January 13, 2006, according to Park Superintendent Eric Brunnemann.

Last year ten 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 Golden Eagles. Peregrine Falcons, a rare species for the monument, nested and produced young in the High Peaks for the first time in 48 years.

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, Goat Rock, 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 the web or by calling (831)-389-4485 ext 0.

For more information regarding the monument’s raptor monitoring program, please call the office of Research and Resource Management at 831-389-4485 extension 270.

Also see the Friends Of Pinnacles Closures page.

Call to All Climbers (12/12/2005)

The Park Service is finishing up preparation of a new exhibit case on the West Side. As part of that exhibit they would like to include a quote from one of us.

If you would like to submit a quote for consideration, click here to send your quote to the Park Service.

More California Condors Will Fly Free at Pinnacles National Monument (09/06/2005)

On Saturday, September 17, a new group of California condors will be released into the wild at Pinnacles National Monument, 80 miles south of San Jose. This third release of the endangered birds at the park is the first on a weekend. Project biologists anticipate releasing up to 30 condors at Pinnacles, a historic breeding ground for the massive birds, over the next several years. The reintroduction of California condors to Pinnacles National Monument is a cooperative effort between the Ventana Wilderness Society and the National Park Service in partnership with the California Condor Recovery Team.

"We are proud to be a part of the recovery of this magnificent species, and are excited about providing an opportunity for more people to attend the release event," said Park Superintendent Tom Leatherman.

Seven juvenile condors -- six male and one female -- will be set free in Pinnacles National Monument this fall, joining the park's seven wild resident condors. The seven juvenile condors are 16-18 months old and were hatched at the Los Angeles Zoo, San Diego Wild Animal Park, and the Oregon Zoo. Condor #340 from Oregon is this breeding facility's first ever captive-bred condor. They have been acclimating to their new home in a 20 foot by 40 foot flight pen at Pinnacles since their arrival at the site in spring, 2005. Sometime this winter, six more juvenile condors are expected to arrive at the Pinnacles. Those birds likely will be released in 2006.

"It is finally a reality - California condors are once again free-flying in the Gabilan and Diablo mountains, where this species was absent for over 30 years. We are well on our way of reaching our overall goal. We are successful because of a great deal of hard work and dedication from all of the Recovery Team collaborators," said Ventana Wilderness Society Executive Director Kelly Sorenson.

Ventana Wilderness Society, which has been conducting condor releases in Big Sur, California since 1997, teamed up with the National Park Service in 2003 to reintroduce condors to Pinnacles National Monument. Thirty-three condors are now in the wild as a result of their efforts.

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. Today 153 are in captivity at the captive breeding facilities listed above, and throughout California 57 are in the wild. The overall goal for California is to have 150 free-flying condors in the state.

The public is invited to attend the September 17, 10:00 a.m. event and witness the release of the condors from a viewing area located approximately a mile from the facility. 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 a mile and a quarter of viewing area. Guests unable to walk the remaining mile can request special assistance. Spotting scopes, binoculars, water, layered clothing and good hiking shoes are highly recommended. Parking is limited, and is on a first come, first served basis; arrival by 8:00 a.m. is recommended. Further details of the release event are available on the Pinnacles National Monument website or by calling Pinnacles National Monument at 831-389-4485 x 224.

Eric Brunnemann Selected As Superintendent (08/01/2005)

Eric Brunnemann has been selected as superintendent of Pinnacles National Monument in Paicines, California.

Brunnemann, a 16-year veteran of the NPS, will move from War in the Pacific National Historical Park on Guam to the Hollister area in mid-October.

"Eric has strong management skills, especially in resource issues," said regional director Jon Jarvis. "I am impressed with his ability to encourage staff and community members to work toward a goal and am confident the Pinnacles community, including its condors, will be well served."

Brunnemann follows Cicely Muldoon, who was promoted in July to deputy regional director for public use management and now works in the regional office in Oakland.

"I am very eager to get to Pinnacles, join the community, and get a feel for the land," Brunnemann said when the announcement of his appointment was made. "I have a fondness for the chaparral country and look forward to learning from the strong park staff, the values of the cultural and natural resources in the area."

Brunnemann's undergraduate degree is from the University of Texas at Austin in anthropological-archeology. His masters' degrees are from the University of Texas in anthropology, and another from the University of New Mexico in American studies.
He has been superintendent of the NPS area on Guam and its affiliated park in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, American Memorial Park on Saipan, since 2002. He has served as cultural resource program manager at Canyonlands and Arches National Parks, Natural Bridges and Hovenweep National Monuments in Utah, and Petroglyph National Monument in New Mexico, and in museum management at Fort Davis National Historical Park in Texas.

Pinnacles National Monument is nearly a 100-year old unit of the NPS system. It is located on the San Andreas Fault and highlights caves and volcanic features with spire-like rock formations, and is home to the California condor.

He and his wife Wendy, daughter Catriona, and son Aidan, expect to be leaving the swaying palms and occasional typhoons of the central Pacific and becoming bird of prey watchers and avid earthquake specialists this October.

Climbing Closure Restrictions Lifted (07/12/2005)

Rock formations subject to advisory closures to rock climbing and off-trail hiking for protecting nesting falcons and eagles have been reopened. A total of 27 Prairie Falcons fledged this year from nine nests, a successful year for the falcons. Additionally, 3 Peregrine Falcons fledged from a nest at Hawkins Peak this year, the first at the park in 48 years. American Kestrels, Red-tailed Hawks, Red-shouldered Hawks, Sharp-shinned Hawks, and Cooper's Hawks produced young this year. There was at least one successful Golden Eagle nest this year.

Pinnacles' rock climbing advisories are lifted a few weeks after the nests have fledged young. Park visitors did an excellent job of following advisories. Pinnacles National Monument can only successfully protect raptors with everyone's help. We thank the climbers and hikers for their patience and support of our efforts to protect our spectacular birds of prey at Pinnacles. "Without your cooperation in avoiding the advisory areas, this program could not be the success that it is," stated Park Superintendent, Martha Lee.

For more information regarding the reopening of the climbing areas, or the park's raptor monitoring program, please call the office of Research and Resource Management at 831-389-4485 extension 223. General park information can be obtained by visiting our Web site or by calling 831-389-4485 extension 0.

International Migratory Bird Day Programs at Pinnacles (05/03/2005)

May 2, 2005
For Immediate Release
Carl Brenner, Resource Education (831) 389-4485 ext. 265

International Migratory Bird Day Programs at Pinnacles National Monument

International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD), which takes place on the second weekend in May each year, celebrates the incredible journeys of migratory birds between their breeding grounds in North America and their wintering grounds in Mexico, Central, and South America. The theme for IMBD 2005 is "Collisions -- Clear the Way for Birds," which explores the hazards to birds from human structures and equipment.

Join Pinnacles National Monument in the celebration on Saturday May 14 as we explore the rich birdlife of San Benito and Monterey County. Walks and programs will include:

  • Hawks and Kites - 8:30 am & 12:00 pm, Peaks View Picnic Area (east side)
An easy - moderate hike along the Bench and South Wilderness Trails.

  • Prairie Falcons and Peregrine Falcons - 8:30 am, Bear Gulch Visitor Center (east side)
A strenuous hike along the Condor Gulch Trail.

  • Birds of Pinnacles - 8:30 am, Chaparral Ranger Station (west side)
A moderate hike over the Balconies Cliffs trail to the beginning of Old PinnaclesTrail.

  • Barn Owls and Prairie Falcons - 1:00 pm, Chalone Trailhead Parking area (east side)
An easy - moderate hike along the Old Pinnacles Trail; please allow an extra 30 - 45 minutes to ride the park shuttle to the Chalone Trailhead Parking area if parking is full

  • Bird Talk- 3:00 pm, Bear Gulch Visitor Center (east side)
No hiking required; please allow an extra 30 - 45 minutes to ride the park shuttle to the visitor center area if parking is full.

  • Prairie Falcons - 5:00 pm, Chaparral Ranger Station (west side)
A strenuous hike from along the Juniper Canyon Trail to the Tunnel Trail junction.

Although the endangered California condor is not a migratory bird, we will be including it in our celebration. Pinnacles National Monument is a release site for condors, and six condors are currently flying free in and around the park. Condor biologists will be in the High Peaks area throughout the day demonstrating the use of spotting scopes and radio telemetry equipment. Check at the Bear Gulch Visitor Center or Chaparral Ranger Station for locations.

An evening campground program relating to birds of Pinnacles will also be taking place at the amphitheater of the privately owned Pinnacles Campground, Inc. If you would like to attend the campground program but are not a registered guest at the campground, parking is available at the overflow lot near the amphitheater.

If you plan to visit Pinnacles during the spring, remember that weekends can be very busy at both entrances and parking is often limited. Please carpool whenever possible, arrive early or consider visiting during midweek. Weekend campers at the campground are strongly encouraged to hike into the monument or use the shuttle service. There are no concession services at the monument and the closest gas stations to the east entrance are thirty miles away.

For more information about International Migratory Bird Day, visit www.birdday.org. For general information about Pinnacles National Monument call (831) 389-4485 or visit our Web site.

Park Celebrates National Park Week and Earth Day (04/13/2005)

Release: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Release Date: April 13, 2005
Contact: Carl Brenner, Supervisor - Resource Education
Phone: (831) 389 - 4485 ext. 265

Pinnacles National Monument will be celebrating National Park Week and Earth Day with a weekend of activities. April 18th to 24th is National Park Week, an annual celebration of national parks. Earth Day, a day to celebrate the natural wonders of our planet, will occur on April 22nd. Pinnacles is planning activities beginning Friday, April 22nd

Friday, April 22, 2005:

The National Park Service staff at Pinnacles National Monument will begin the celebration with a Moonlight hike to encourage your appreciation of Mother Earth by getting to know her varied persona. If you would like to experience Pinnacles under April moonlight, join this quiet, moderate two-mile hike. The attributes of natural quiet and magical vistas at Pinnacles under moonlight will be emphasized as you ascend a mile to a scenic viewpoint. There the group will calmly rest, bathed in moon glow and the colors of the wind.

NOTE: Reservations are required. Sign up by calling the Bear Gulch Visitor Center (831)389-4485 ext. 235. Meet at the visitor center (east entrance) at 8:00 pm; return time is about 10:15. Bring layered clothing, sturdy boots or shoes, water, and a small flashlight with a red cover over the lens.

Saturday, April 23rd planned events include:

  • 11:00-11:45 a.m. - "Camouflage", a walk for ages 5-8.
Explore the riparian habitat of Chalone Creek, and learn how animals camouflage to blend in with their surroundings. The hike will be about 100 yards, and the group will be in sight of the picnic area for the whole walk. Parents are welcome to watch from the picnic area.
  • 2:30-3:15 p.m. - "Wilderness of the Valley Oaks", a walk for ages 9-12.
Hike into a valley oak woodland in the Pinnacles South Wilderness and learn about this unique habitat. The hike will be about a mile of flat, easy walking.
These trips will be limited to 15 kids each and will meet at the Peaks View parking area. Participants should wear comfortable shoes (tennis shoes or hiking boots). Parents should be at the picnic area a few minutes before the program's start and at least 5 minutes before the end to greet the returning hikers.

  • 2:00 p.m. - Geology Hike to Balconies Cave. This walk will begin at the Chaparral Ranger Station.
  • 8:00 p.m. - "An Island Called Pinnacles" An evening program at the Pinnacles Campground, Inc.'s amphitheater.

In addition to all the activities of National Park Week, we would like to remind visitors that normal park programs will also be occurring.
- At the Bear Gulch Visitor Center: 10:30 Guided Walk & 3:00 Ranger Talk both Saturdays and Sundays.
- At the Chaparral Ranger Station: 2:00 Guided Walk or Ranger Talk both Saturdays and Sundays.

Your National Parks are living examples of the best this Nation has to offer - our magnificent natural landscapes and our varied yet interrelated heritage. Parks can provide recreational experiences, opportunities to learn and grow, and places of quiet refuge.

General park information can be obtained by visiting our Web site or by calling 831-389-4485 extension 0.

Peregrine Falcon Pair Returns To Pinnacles National Monument (04/07/2005)

2005 marks the 19th year of raptor monitoring at Pinnacles National Monument, and a successful breeding season is well underway for sensitive nesting species including prairie falcons and golden eagles. This year also marked the first time in over 48 years that a peregrine falcon pair has established a nest in the park.

Historically, peregrine falcons were last observed nesting at Pinnacles National Monument in 1957 in the High Peaks and just outside of the park (at Drywall Slide) in 1962. Peregrine falcons were listed as federally endangered in 1970, due largely to population declines caused by pesticide poisoning (mainly DDT and DDE) and resulting egg-shell thinning. Since then, peregrine falcons have slowly increased in numbers, thanks to the banning of DDT use in the U.S. in 1973, and careful captive breeding programs throughout the country. Peregrine falcons were not observed at Pinnacles at all from the 1960s until the mid-1980s, with one or two peregrine falcons a year observed migrating through the park from the 1980s to 1990s. From 1989 to 1991, cross-fostering programs were enacted at Pinnacles, with peregrine falcon young placed into prairie falcon nests to augment peregrine populations. Last year a pair was seen in the park, but no nesting activity occurred.

This year the peregrine falcon pair was first observed in early January, with mating behavior observed throughout February and March. On April 3rd, during observations of the peregrines, three eggs were confirmed in the nest.

The return of a nesting pair of peregrine falcons to Pinnacles National Monument, and the success of sensitive breeding raptors including prairie falcons and golden eagles, reinforces the importance of the raptor advisory areas in place from January to July, and the part that all visitors play in ensuring the continuing raptor diversity at the park. We thank the climbers and hikers for their patience and support of our efforts to protect our spectacular birds of prey at Pinnacles. "This demonstrates the effectiveness of the advisory program, which would not be possible without everyone's cooperation. Now more people will have an opportunity to see these spectacular birds in their own back yard," stated Chief of Research and Resource Management, Tom Leatherman.

For more information regarding peregrine falcon 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 extension 223. General park information can be obtained by visiting the Park Website

Summit Registry Preservation Program (03/20/2005)

Friends Of Pinnacles is announcing step one in its Summit Registry Preservation program.

FOP's intention is to collect deteriorating entries from the various summit registries around the park - preserve the original entries to prevent further deterioration - and post any "legible" entries on their Web site. This will allow climbers to continue to enjoy their, and others, registry entries.

We are even scanning some of the drawings and placing them on the Web site as well. We also intend to make copies of select entries, with particular historical value, and return them to the actual summit registers for other climbers to read.

We have recently finished the entries we have for the Monolith's Register and hope to have more from other registers soon.

"I'm disappointed by how many entries are missing." said Brooks White, Web Master at Friends of Pinnacles. "I remember some really wonderful old entries that I saw back in the 80's that I wish other people could get to read. We are hoping that someone will still have those entries and let FOP know about it so we can add them here."

If you have any information regarding Pinnacles Summit Registry entries or would like to lend a hand with the Summit Registry Preservation Program, please contact us.

Bear Gulch Cave Opens (03/05/2005)

March 01, 2005
For Immediate Release
Carl Brenner, Resource Education (831) 389-4485

Opening of the Bear Gulch Cave

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 Townsendís 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 Parkís 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 please contact the Bear Gulch Visitor Center at (831) 389-4485 ext. 0 or visit our web pages.

Base Jumpers Violate Closures (02/18/2005)

The following was exerpted directly from the National Park Service:

On the afternoon of Sunday, February 6th, three BASE jumps leapt sequentially from the middle tier of Balconies Cliffs, an ecologically sensitive area currently under visitor advisories for nesting prairie falcons, peregrine falcons and golden eagles. The park raptor monitor witnessed the jumps, as well as extreme disturbance to raptors in their nesting territories as a result of the sounds and motions of the deploying parachutes. The jumps were also seen by a ranger who was on the Balconies Cliffs trail almost directly underneath the BASE jumpers.

The jumpers were immediately apprehended at the talus base of the Balconies Cliffs in an area closed to visitors due to revegetation efforts. All three were issued mandatory appearance citations for air delivery and were released after their equipment was seized as evidence. Numerous other charges are pending. Glenn Yanagi is the case ranger.

24 Hour Exit Option For West Side (02/04/2005)

Although we haven't received the official announcement, FOP has learned that a new automatic gate has been installed, and is functional, on the West Side.

This means that anyone arriving at the West Side before regular West Side closing hours can exit ANY time. No more fines - no more racing down from the High Peaks.

Note! You still CANNOT enter the West Side after standard park closing hours.

More information to follow from the Park.

FOP

Important Park Land Acquisition (02/04/2005)

FOP has learned that a deal has been struck securing the land currently held by the Pinnacles Ranch for the Park. With the help of the Nature Conservancy (who helped to purchase the land) and an appropriation granted by Congress this year the land has been put into trust for the Park.

There is a good article in the SJ Mercury that you can find in their archives section. Search for "Pinnacles National Monument."

For those of you who do not know, The Park has been trying to acquire this land for ever, so this is huge. This land leads right up to the front of the park (see map) and includes (we believe) the privately held Pinnacles Campground.

Details should come from the Park itself soon.

Congratulation to Pinnaces National Monument regarding this great news.

Fee Increase for Motorcycle, Bicycle and Walk-in Visitors (12/30/2004)

Fee Increase at Pinnacles National Monument

Pinnacles National Monument will raise the entrance fee for single person entry on January 1, 2005. This change will increase the fee for motorcycle, bicycle, walk-in, and park shuttle entrance from $2.00 to $3.00. This change is being made to comply with the National Park Service standard minimum per person fee of $3.00.

The Recreation Fee Authority was established by the Land and Conservation Fund Act in 1965 and then upheld by the Recreational Fee Demonstration program in 1996. The passage of these bills allows the National Park Service to charge fees and keep 80% of the revenue for the collection site. The National Park Service uses this revenue on high priority projects that focus on reducing the backlog of maintenance and the protection of natural and cultural resources.

Currently, Pinnacles is using Fee Demonstration funds to improve the shuttle system, fund Student Conservation Association internships, build a comprehensive interpretive plan, and establish an on-line virtual museum.

For more information, please visit our Web site.

Bear Gulch Cave to Remain Partially Open Through Winter (10/23/2004)

Pinnacles National Monument will open the entire Bear Gulch Cave to public access from Sunday, October 24th through Sunday, October 31st, 2004. Beginning Monday, November 1st, more than half of the cave will remain open through the winter.

The entire cave is opened seasonally when the majority of the colony of Townsend's Big-eared bats, a California species of special concern, have left the cave. These bats use the cave as a place to raise their pups during the summer and hibernate in the winter and spring.

A gate was recently constructed that will allow hikers to explore the lower half of the cave without disturbing the hibernating colony of bats. This portion of the Bear Gulch Cave will be open from mid-July through mid-May every year, except during periods of high water. The entire cave will be closed in the early summer for pupping season.

This winter, the Monument will complete the construction of a new trail that will allow hikers to enter the caveís lower section, exit midway through near the newly constructed gate and then continue on to the reservoir. Until then, hikers in the lower portion of the cave can explore to the new gate and will then need to backtrack through the cave to exit.

The entire Bear Gulch Cave will continue to be open twice each year, for at least one week and up to four weeks, in March and October, depending on the presence of the colony of bats.

The trip through the Bear Gulch Cave is part of a moderate two-mile round trip walk that begins on the east side of the Monument. Flashlights are required, and 1 to 2 liters of drinking water is recommended. Visitors are encouraged to carpool or hike into the park on weekends.

Another talus cave, the Balconies Cave, is open year-round except during times of heavy rainfall. It can be reached most easily through the Monumentís west entrance.

When visiting Pinnacles National Monument, please be aware that no concession services or gas stations are available in the park.

For more information please contact the Bear Gulch Visitor Center at (831) 389-4485 ext. 0 or visit our web pages.

More California Condors Will Fly Free at Pinnacles National Monument (10/07/2004)

On Thursday, October 28, three California condors will be released into the wild at Pinnacles National Monument, 80 miles south of San Jose. Originally planned for October 15, the release was delayed after two of the wild condors were observed perching on local power poles in the last two weeks. Electrocution and collisions with power lines historically have been significant threats to wild condors. Since the juvenile condors to be released are likely to mimic the behavior of the wild birds, biologists will recapture the two errant wild birds prior to releasing the new cohort of juvenile birds. In addition, project staff will modify two of the flight pen support poles to more closely resemble local power poles, and to deliver a mild shock to condors that attempt to perch on them. These modifications are needed prior to the release of the new birds, leading to the delay from the original release date. This technique has proved successful in other release sites.

This is only the second release of the endangered birds at the park. Project biologists anticipate releasing up to 30 condors at Pinnacles, historic breeding ground for the massive birds, over the next several years. The reintroduction of California condors to Pinnacles National Monument is a cooperative effort between the Ventana Wilderness Society and the National Park Service in partnership with the California Condor Recovery Team.

"We are terrifically encouraged by the success of this first year," said Park Superintendent Cicely Muldoon. "The birds are thriving, the visitors are thrilled with routine condor sightings in the park, and we are proud to be a part of the recovery of this magnificent species."

Six juvenile condors -- five female and one male -- will be set free in Pinnacles National Monument this fall, joining the park's five wild resident condors. Three birds will be released on October 28, and the other three will remain in captivity for another one to two weeks to help ensure that the free-flying birds remain nearby for biologists to monitor. The six juvenile condors are 16-18 months old and were hatched at the Los Angeles Zoo and the San Diego Wild Animal Park. They have been acclimating to their new home in a 20 foot by 40 foot flight pen at Pinnacles since their arrival at the site in spring, 2004. Sometime this winter, six more juvenile condors are expected to arrive at the Pinnacles. Those birds likely will be released in 2005.

"It is finally a reality - California condors are once again free-flying in the Gabilan and Diablo mountains, where this species was absent for over 30 years. We are successful because of a great deal of hard work and dedication from all of the Recovery Program collaborators," said Ventana Wilderness Society Executive Director Kelly Sorenson.

Ventana Wilderness Society, which has been conducting condor releases in Big Sur, California since 1997, teamed up with the National Park Service in 2003 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 today 141 are in captivity, and 105 are in the wild. The overall goal for California is to have 150 free-flying condors in the state.

The public is invited to attend the October 28, 11:00 a.m. event and witness the release of the condors from a viewing area located approximately a mile from the facility. 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 a mile and a quarter of viewing area. Guests unable to walk the remaining mile can request special assistance. Spotting scopes, binoculars, water, layered clothing and good hiking shoes are highly recommended. Parking is limited, and is on a first come, first served basis; arrival by 9:00 a.m. is recommended. Further details of the release event are available on the Pinnacles National Monument website or by calling Pinnacles National Monument at 831-389-4485 x 224.

www.ventanaws.org
Ventana Wilderness 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 Wilderness Society also provides innovative and exciting environmental education and internship opportunities to youth and young adults throughout the Central Coast Region.

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 24,000 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.

West Nile Virus Found At Pinnacles (09/24/2004)

A bird that was found dead at Pinnacles National Monument has tested positive for the West Nile Virus. The bird, a female kestrel, was found on the west side of the monument near the entrance gate. It was picked up on September 13th by the San Benito County Department of Health and Human Services for testing.

"We are continuing to monitor the monumentís bird population," said Park Superintendent Cicely Muldoon.

West Nile Virus has been present in the United States since 1999. It is most commonly found in birds, but can also be transmitted to humans. It is spread by mosquitoes.

If you encounter a dead bird, do not touch it. For West Nile Virus Information and Dead Bird Reporting, visit www.westnile.ca.gov or call (877) 968-2473.

Peregrine Falcon Pair Returns to Pinnacles National Monument (08/10/2004)

Pinnacles National Monument News Release

Pinnacles National Monument has completed its 18th year of raptor monitoring. This season was a successful breeding season for sensitive nesting species including prairie falcons and golden eagles. This year also marked the first time in over 40 years that a peregrine falcon pair occupied a territory at Pinnacles.

Peregrine falcons were last observed nesting in Pinnacles National Monument in 1957 and just outside the monument in 1962. Except for an occasional migrating pair, peregrine falcons were not observed at Pinnacles from the 1960s to the 1990s. From 1989 to 1991, a program of placing peregrine eggs and chicks into prairie falcon nest, called cross-fostering, was instituted at Pinnacles. The goad of this program was to increase peregrine populations and hopefully reintroduce them to Pinnacles.

Peregrine falcons were federally listed as endangered in 1970 due to pesticide poisoning and resulting eggshell thinning (largely from DDT and DDE). Since then, peregrine falcons have slowly increased in numbers, thanks to U.S. bans on DDT in 1973, as well as the success of captive breeding programs throughout the country.

This year's peregrine falcon pair was first observed on March 3rd, with observations becoming more regular throughout the breeding season. The pair aggressively defended a territory in the Hawkins peak area by diving (stooping) upon a prairie falcon pair (which were using an adjacent territory), turkey vultures, and even California condors. Although the pair did attempt to mate several times and inspected potential nest sites, they did not nest this year.

The return of peregrine falcons to Pinnacles National Monument reinforces the importance of the raptor advisory areas that are in place from January to July. All of Pinnacles' visitors play an important role in ensuring the continuing raptor diversity of the park. We thank all of the climbers and hikers for their patience and support of our efforts to protect our spectacular birds of prey at Pinnacles. "Without your cooperation in avoiding the advisory areas, this program could not be the success that it is," stated Park Superintendent, Cicely Muldoon.

For more information regarding peregrine falcon 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 extension 223. General park information can be obtained by visiting the Park Web Site or by calling 831-389-4485 extension 0.

Wilderness Month at Pinnacles National Monument (08/09/2004)

Celebrate Wilderness

September 2004 is Wilderness Month at Pinnacles National Monument. We will be scheduling a photography exhibit and variety of wilderness programs and events.

Photography Exhibit
Do you have photographs of Pinnacles Wilderness that you think others might want to see? During the month of September, a photography exhibit will take place at the Bear Gulch Visitor Center.

We welcome images from the public. Photographs can be of flowers, rocks, landscapes, sunsets, clouds, night skies, animals, people hiking and climbing in Pinnacles Wilderness.

To enter an image in the exhibit, please email your photo to pinn_visitor_information@nps.gov. The deadline for entries is September 15th. You can also copy your image to a CD or make a print and mail it to the park:

Wendy Artz
Pinnacles National Monument
5000 Hwy 146
Paicines, CA 95043

For more information see the Park Web site.

2004 Climbing Restrictions Lifted (06/28/2004)

For Immediate Release

CLIMBING AREAS REOPEN

Rock formations subject to advisory closures to rock climbing and off-trail hiking for protecting nesting falcons and eagles will reopen June 30, 2004. A total of 33 Prairie Falcons fledged this year from nine nests, a successful year for the falcons. Additionally, American Kestrels, Red-tailed Hawks, Sharp-shinned Hawks, and Cooper's Hawks produced young this year. There was at least one successful Golden Eagle nest this year.

Pinnacles' rock climbing advisories are lifted a few weeks after the nests have fledged young. Park visitors did an excellent job of following advisories.

Pinnacles National Monument can only successfully protect raptors with everyone's help. We thank the climbers and hikers for their patience and support of our efforts to protect our spectacular birds of prey at Pinnacles. "Without your cooperation in avoiding the advisory areas, this program could not be the success that it is," stated Park Superintendent, Cicely Muldoon.

For more information regarding the reopening of the climbing areas, or the park's raptor monitoring program, please call the office of Research and Resource Management at 831-389-4485 extension 223. General park information can be obtained by visiting the Park Web site or by calling 831-389-4485 extension 0.

2004 Summer Programs (06/11/2004)

Every season at Pinnacles National Monument brings new discoveries. Experience the many faces of Pinnacles through a series of day and evening programs. These programs feature guided hikes, walks and talks by park staff. All programs are free, however evening programs require reservations.

Program duration and difficulty vary, call ahead for details. For day programs visitors should bring drinking water (at least one liter per hour), a backpack, snacks, sun protection and wear comfortable hiking shoes. All evening programs require a flashlight (red lens cover preferred), water, comfortable hiking shoes and layered clothing.

Pinnacles National Monumentís summers are desert like. Temperatures may soar into the 100ís during the day and dip into the 40ís at night. Also, there are no concession services in the monument and no nearby gas stations.

Pinnacles National Monument is designated as a fee collection site and operates as a day use park. Night programs are subject to special conditions and operating hours. For program details and reservations call (831) 389-4485. For general information visit our Web site.

Day Programs
Nature Hikes:

East District
Every Saturday & Sunday morning at 10:00 AM
From 06/12 through 08/29
Meet at the Bear Gulch Visitor Center
West District
Every Saturday & Sunday afternoon at 2:00 PM
From 06/12 through 08/29
Meet at the Chaparral Ranger Station

Talks:

East District Only
Every Saturday & Sunday afternoon at 3:00 PM
From 06/12 through 08/29
Meet at the Bear Gulch Visitor Center

Evening Programs
Night Hikes/Programs:

East District Only
All night hikes/programs take place on Saturdays and RESERVATIONS are REQUIRED and accepted no more than two weeks in advance.
June 12, Dark Sky Program
June 26, Moonlight Hike
July 10, Dark Sky Program
July 24, Moonlight Hike
August 14, Dark Sky Program
August 28, Moonlight Hike

Bat Programs:

East District Only
All bat programs take place on Saturdays and RESERVATIONS are REQUIRED and accepted no more than two weeks in advance.
June 19, July 17, and August 21.

Night Hike (05/21/2004)

On Friday, May 28, experience Pinnacles National Monument under the cool moonlight. A Ranger led easy two-mile hike will introduce visitors to the visual poetry of the Parkís moonlit landscape.

Visitors with confirmed reservations should meet at the Bear Gulch Visitor Center, located inside the east entrance of the monument, at 8:30 PM. Bring water, layered clothing, sturdy shoes or boots. Though we plan to hike exclusively with the natural light of the moon, hikers should carry a small flashlight with some red material to cover the lens. The program will end back at the Visitor Center by 10:30 PM.

For program details or to make RESERVATIONS please call (831) 389-4485, extension 235 from 9:00 AM ñ 5:00 PM. Pinnacles National Monument is designated as a fee collection site and operates as a day use park.

For general information about Pinnacles National Monument call (831) 389-4485 or visit our Web site.

International Migratory Bird Day Programs (05/05/2004)

International Migratory Bird Day, which takes place on the second weekend in May each year, celebrates the incredible journeys of migratory birds between their breeding grounds in North America and their wintering grounds in Mexico, Central, and South America.

Join Pinnacles National Monument in the celebration on Saturday May 8 and Sunday May 9 as we explore the rich birdlife of San Benito and Monterey County through guided hikes, bird watching and information about birds and migration. Easy to moderate two hour walks will begin at Peaks View picnic area (on the East District) and the Chaparral Ranger Station (on the West District) at 9:00 a.m. on both Saturday May 8 and Sunday May 9. Bring water (at least one liter per hour), hiking shoes, binoculars, sunscreen and a hat. On Sunday afternoon (May 9), join park biologists in the field looking for Prairie falcons, Peregrine falcons and California condors. Check at the Bear Gulch Visitor Center or Chaparral Ranger Station for locations.

If you plan to visit Pinnacles during the spring, remember that weekends can be very busy at both entrances and parking is often limited. Please carpool whenever possible, arrive early or consider visiting during midweek. Weekend campers at the campground are strongly encouraged to hike into the monument or use the shuttle service. There are no concession services at the monument and the closest gas stations to the east entrance are thirty miles away.

For more information about International Migratory Bird Day, visit www.birdday.org. For general information about Pinnacles National Monument call (831) 389-4485 or visit our Web site.

2004 Closures Update (04/15/2004)

The following information comes straight from the Park Service:

Prairie falcons are incubating their eggs now, and raptor advisories have been updated. Things look a little different from last year. Advisories on all Gargoyle areas and Generation Gap Pinnacle areas are now lifted.

There are active nests at the Frog/Hand and Teapot Dome though, so those areas are now going to be under advisory for the rest of the season. We had stopped listing the frog and hand because there hadn't been any activity there for a while, but it looks like it's back in favor, so look for it on lists in the future. Sorry to add new areas - usually we only lift advisories in April.

More information to come later.

See FOP Closures List.

After Hours Park Access Granted! (04/15/2004)

After years of lobbying for "after hours access" to the park, Friends Of Pinnacles has been advised that 24-hour access to the East Side of Pinnacles is now in effect.

Although the policy allows for entrance and exit from the park at any time of day, it does NOT allow for overnight camping. Camping if ONLY allowed in the private campgrounds, outside of the entrance kiosk.

The West Side will still close as usual.

It is our understanding that the West Side may go to a 24-hour "exit" program if the program works well for the East Side. This could take the form of a gate that would open only from the inside (allowing after hours exit), but prevent after hours entry.

FOP asks you to be particularly aware and considerate in your activities if you are going to be in the park after 8:00 pm. If we can help make the program go smoothly we might be able to get the whole park onto a 24-hour program.

Serious Climbing Accident on Discovery Wall (04/15/2004)

On Wednesday, March 31st, rangers received a report of a fallen and unconscious climber near Fern Grotto. The climbers believed that they were following the Portent route on Discovery Wall, but started to climb back down after realizing that they were mistaken. As the climber was retreating, they slipped off the rock about five feet above the last piece of protection, an Alien one-inch cam. The cam pulled out and the climber tumbled approximately 30 feet to the ground and was knocked unconscious. A nearby hiker ran down a trail to report the fall to rangers.

Responding park EMTs and First Responders treated the climber and transferred them to a litter. Eighteen staff members and on-scene volunteers raced to evacuate the litter to the trailhead. The climber was then helicoptered to San Jose Medical Center.

Injuries included a concussion, open fracture of the left humerus, seven cracked ribs in the front, five cracked ribs in the back, and a collapsed and punctured lung.

Had the climber not been wearing a helmet, the head injuries would undoubtedly have been much worse.

Staff members from every division in the monument participated in the incident and should be commended.

Friends Of Pinnacles is withholding the identity of the climber until notified that it is okay to release.

Climber's Condor Warning (03/24/2004)

You may have recently heard about some encounters climbers have been having with the new Condors at the park. You may have even had one yourself. Some erroneous information has been circulated regarding how the Park would like you to deal with this type of situation.

According to recent information coming from the condor project director, climbers should NOT "haze" (try to scare off) the condors in any way. Climbers are advised: if you are approached, simply ignore the birds until they are done checking you out.

See the attached poster (Adobe PDF) supplied by the Park Service.

Two Plus Week Opening of the Bear Gulch Cave (03/10/2004)

Pinnacles National Monument will be opening the Bear Gulch Cave to public access from Wednesday, March 10th through Wednesday, March 31st, 2004. The cave has been closed to protect a colony of Townsend's Big-eared bats, which are listed as a California species of special concern. These bats use the cave as a place to raise their pups during the summer and as a place to hibernate in the winter and spring.

The trip through the Bear Gulch Cave is part of a moderate two-mile round trip walk that begins on the east side of the Monument. Flashlights are required, and drinking water is recommended. Visitors are encouraged to carpool or hike into the park on weekends.

After March 31st, the cave will be closed again until October. The management plan for the cave calls for public access for one to four weeks each March and October, depending on the presence of the colony of bats. Another talus cave, the Balconies Cave, is open year-round except during times of heavy rainfall. It can be reached most easily through the Monument's west entrance.

When visiting Pinnacles National Monument, please be aware that no concession services or gas stations are available in the park.

For more information please contact the Bear Gulch Visitor Center at (831) 389-4485 ext. 0 or visit our web pages.

Weekend Shuttle Service for Pinnacles National Monument (03/03/2004)

The seasonal shuttle at Pinnacles National Monument is now back in operation. The service will be available on weekends in March from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., except for Saturday, March 13th, when the shuttle will not be available. The shuttle will also be running during the months of April and May, but the hours of operation may change as the days grow longer.

The shuttle bus will provide service to all major trailheads, picnic areas and the Bear Gulch Visitor Center. The shuttle is free of charge to all visitors with a paid entrance fee, and is accessible to visitors in wheelchairs.

If you plan to visit Pinnacles during the spring, remember that weekends can be very busy at both entrances and parking is often limited. Please carpool whenever possible or consider visiting during midweek. Weekend campers at the campground are strongly encouraged to hike into the monument or use the shuttle service. There are no concession services at the monument and the closest gas stations to the east entrance are thirty miles away.

For general information call (831) 389-4485 or visit www.nps.gov/pinn.

Climbing Closures In Effect (01/10/2004)

January 7, 2003
For Immediate Release

CLIMBING ADVISORIES IN EFFECT

Annual measures to protect nesting raptors of Pinnacles National Monument will be reinstated as of January 15, 2004, according to Park Superintendent Cicely Muldoon. Last year nine pairs of prairie falcons produced a total of 30 fledglings. Additionally, the monument had successful nesting by American Kestrels, Red-tailed 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, Goat Rock, Gargoyle/Piedras Bonitas, and the Scout Peak area," said Muldoon. "Without your cooperation in avoiding the advisory areas, this program could not be the success that it is," she 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)-389-4485 ext 0.

For more information regarding the monument's raptor monitoring program, please call the office of Research and Resource Management at 831-389-4485 ext. 270. General park information can be obtained by visiting our Web site or by calling 831-389-4485 ext. 0.

Passing of Ranger Andrew Artz (09/26/2003)

Ranger Andrew Artz died of respiratory illness complications at Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital in Hollister, California, yesterday.

Andy most recently served as a law enforcement ranger at Pinnacles along with his wife Wendy. Over the course of his career he worked as a ranger at Mount Rainier NP, Devil's Tower NM, Great Basin NP, Petrified Forest NP, Olympic NP, Independence NHP, and Organ Pipe Cactus NM.

Andy will be remembered as a true NPS ranger - diverse in skills, broad in knowledge, and possessing complete dedication to friends, co-workers, and public service. His compassion and friendship will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

Cards and letters may be sent to his family through his wife, Wendy Artz, at 5000 Hwy 146, Paicines, CA 95043. Donations may be made to Doctors Without Borders (1-888-392-0392), or the Hollister Animal Shelter (831-636-4320).

2003 CLIMBING ADVISORIES IN EFFECT (01/16/2003)

January 15, 2003
For Immediate Release
Cicely Muldoon/Superintendent (831) 389 - 4485

2003 CLIMBING ADVISORIES IN EFFECT

Annual measures to protect nesting raptors of Pinnacles National Monument will be reinstated as of January 17, 2003, according to Park Superintendent Cicely Muldoon. Last year eight pairs of prairie falcons produced a total of 26 fledglings. Additionally, the monument had successful nesting by American Kestrels, Red-tailed 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, Goat Rock, Gargoyle/Piedras Bonitas, and the Scout Peak area," said Muldoon. "Without your cooperation in avoiding the advisory areas, this program could not be the success that it is."

The specific locations of these sensitive areas (including maps) are posted on information boards at trailheads in both districts of the monument, at the Bear Gulch Visitor Center, the Chaparral Ranger Station, and on the Park Web site.

For more information regarding the monument's raptor monitoring program, please call the office of Research and Resource Management at 831-389-4485 extension 223 or extension 0 for general park information.

-NPS-

South County YMCA Adds Indoor Climbing Wall (12/12/2002)

New! The South County YMCA has built a high quality 25-foot indoor climbing wall near the Pinnacles National Park in Soledad, California. The wall has three routes to accommodate beginners to advanced. An auto-belay system and manual belays allow for individual climbing or group teambuilding.

The South County YMCA developed this new program opportunity to further their mission to build strong kids, strong families and strong communities. The hope is to draw groups of people to the beautiful Salinas Valley and Pinnacles National Monument, to foster collaborations and to teach environmental responsibility.

The YMCA can accommodate groups of twelve or more for a climbing wall experience. Some groups like to bring their sleeping bag and spend the night, have a BBQ, use the wall, play gym sports and have a home base as they enjoy the Pinnacles. Individuals and families who live near the YMCA enjoy the many benefits of membership.

For more information, contact the South County YMCA at 560 Walker Drive, Soledad, CA, 93960. Phone: 831-678-1239 or e-mail ysouthcounty@aol.com.

Public Meeting for Re-opening of Bear Gulch Cave (12/10/2002)

Pinnacles National Monument is considering re-opening the Bear Gulch Cave to public access while maintaining the integrity of the Townsend's Big-eared bat colony, a California species of special concern. To determine the potential impacts of the project, the Monument has prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) of options that would permit visitor access on a limited basis.

A public meeting will be held on Wednesday, December 18 at 7:00 PM at the Hollister City Council Chambers, 375 Fifth Street, to discuss the project. The public is encouraged to attend and participate in this important meeting.

The EA is currently available for public review and can be downloaded from the park WebPages at (http://www.nps.gov/pinn/resource/eabeargulch.htm). Copies are also available by writing to the monument or by calling (831) 389-4485 ext. 0. Additional copies are available at the Bear Gulch Visitor Center, Chaparral Ranger Station and in the local libraries in King City, Salinas, San Juan Bautista and Hollister.

For more information please e-mail Amy Fesnock/Wildlife Biologist or call at (831) 389-4485 ext. 223.

Chalone Creek Area Construction (11/15/2002)

The Chalone Creek Picnic Area is currently closed due to construction. There are no facilities or parking in that area. Visitors to the East Side of the park can go to the Bear Gulch Visitor Center area for parking, water, restrooms, and access to trailheads. Services are also available at the Chaparral Ranger Station area on the West Side of the park.

If you'd like to visit the Balconies Cave, you will probably want to enter through the west side of the monument. It is a two-mile round trip loop to the cave from the Chaparral parking area. Stop at the ranger station for trail information and cave conditions.

It is still possible to visit the Balconies Cave from the east side of the park, but the hike is much longer. The Old Pinnacles Trail is open, and can be reached from either the Bear Gulch or Bench Trails. It is an 8.1 mile round-trip loop from the Bear Gulch Visitor Center parking area on the east side.

If you plan to stay at the campground on the east side, you can hike to the Balconies Cave from your campsite. From the east walk-in entrance, it is an 8.7 mile round-trip loop.

As always, please bring a flashlight and plenty of drinking water if you plan to visit the cave, and keep in mind that there may be seasonal closures due to high water. For additional information, call the Bear Gulch Visitor Center at (831) 389-4485 ext. 0.

For updated information about trailheads and hikes in the park, visit the Park's Trail Information Page.

Heat Related Fatality at the Park (10/01/2002)

Oct 01, 2002
For Immediate Release
Neal Labrie/East District Ranger

Heat Related Fatality at the Park

On the afternoon of September 23, park staff responded to a report of two people suffering from dehydration on the High Peaks trail on the park's east side. Glenn Hannon, 83, and his wife, Betsy Hannon, 79, had begun their hike from the Moses Spring parking lot at 8:30 a.m. The hike brought them to the Scout Peak area, a trek that includes a 1,300-foot elevation gain over about two miles.

The mid-day high temperature hit 106 degrees, and the Hannons had only a soda and a small snack over the course of the day. At 3:30 p.m., a visitor contacted rangers and told them that two elderly people were suffering heat problems on the High Peaks trail. Ranger Kyle Johnson accompanied him up the trail. They first encountered Glenn Hannon, who was in stable but serious condition, then continued another half mile up the trail to Betsy Hannon. Within a few minutes of their arrival, she went into cardiac arrest and Johnson began CPR. Ranger Eduardo Alfaro had meanwhile reached Glenn Hannon and begun treating him for severe heat exhaustion and preparing him for evacuation.

California Division of Forestry personnel joined the rangers and began assisting with evacuation and medical care. After over an hour of no cardiac function, medics and life flight nurses were able to temporarily restore Betsy Hannon's pulse, but she succumbed during her flight to the hospital. Glenn Hannon was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, where he was treated and released in the evening. Nineteen park staff members from all divisions participated in the operation.

This was the second major heat-related case in the park within three weeks.

Pinnacles Implements Climbing Registry Program (08/28/2002)

The Park has established a voluntary climbing registry program and is asking the climbing community for its cooperation.

Why a climbing register?

The Ranger Staff at Pinnacles National Monument has established this climbing register for two main reasons:

  1. In the event that you are injured, the information you provide in the register will help us know where to look. When it is a serious accident, every second counts and we want to get to you as soon as possible.
  2. This register will act as a historical record for future park visitors and managers.

All comments will be read and taken into consideration where appropriate. For this reason, it is important that the information you provide is meaningful.

The Park thanks the climbing community for participating in this important voluntary program.

- East District Ranger Staff

Galen Rowell and His Wife Die in Plane Crash (08/13/2002)

(excerpted from S.F. Chronicle article)

Ray Delgado, Chronicle Staff Writer

Acclaimed outdoors photographer Galen Rowell and his wife, Barbara Rowell, were killed along with two others in a plane crash near the Bishop (Inyo County) airport over the weekend on their way home from a photo workshop class in the Arctic.

Known for his wilderness photography of the Bay Area, the Sierra and across all seven continents, the Berkeley-born Rowell was killed instantly in the crash Sunday morning as the plane approached the airport. He was 61.

<Click here read the entire story>

To learn more about Galen and his wife visit their Web site: Mountain Light Photography

Fee Free Day at Pinnacles National Monument (08/10/2002)

For Immediate Release

Sunday, August 25th will be a free admission day to Pinnacles National Monument and the public is invited to visit at no charge.

All National Park units that collect an entrance fee have been authorized to honor the Annual Fee Free day, which celebrates the 86th anniversary of the National Park Service.

Annual Fee Free Day, also known as Founder's Day, is recognized on August 25th because it represents the anniversary date of the National Park Service, which was established by Congress in 1916.

For additional information call the park: (831) 389-4485 or visit the Park's Web site.

Climbing Areas Reopen (07/04/2002)

Rock formations subject to advisory closures for protecting nesting falcons and eagles have been reopened. A total of twenty-six Prairie Falcons fledged this year from eight nests, a successful year for the falcons. American Kestrels and Red-tailed Hawks all produced young this year. In addition, there was at least one successful Golden Eagle nest. Pinnacles' rock climbing advisories are usually lifted a few weeks after the nests have fledged young.

"We want to thank everyone, especially the rock climbers and hikers for their patience and support of our efforts to protect these spectacular birds of prey at Pinnacles. Park visitors did an excellent job of avoiding the protected areas by observing the advisories. Without visitor's cooperation this program could not be the success that it is." stated Park Superintendent, Cicely Muldoon.

For more information regarding the reopening of the climbing areas or the park's raptor monitoring program please contact the office of Research and Resource Management at (831) 389-4485 ext. 223.

For general park information call (831) 389-4485 ext. 235 or visit the Park Web site.

Chalone Creek Restoration Environmental Assessment Available for Public Review (06/05/2002)

The following is a reprint of the Pinnacles Press Release:

June 5, 2002
For Immediate Release
Cicely Muldoon/Superintendent (831) 389 - 4485

After months of planning, the Environmental Assessment of Chalone Creek Restoration in Pinnacles National Monument is available for public comment. This document discusses how the restoration of 3 kilometers of Chalone Creek would be implemented in the Monument and what effects to the environment and visitor use of Pinnacles would be expected.

The Monument's preferred alternative is to conduct this restoration action to improve stream conditions and the habitat of the California red-legged frog, a federally threatened species. "The current condition of this section of stream is less than ideal. We expect that this restoration project will greatly improve the stream's character and function as well as improve the habitat quality for red-legged frogs", said Superintendent Cicely Muldoon.

Copies of the Environmental Assessment are available on the Web site or may be obtained by sending a postcard with return address to the monument or by calling (831) 389-4485 ext. 235. Additional copies are available at the Bear Gulch Visitor Center, Chaparral Ranger Station and at the libraries in King City and Hollister.

Public involvement is encouraged. Please send comments to Pinnacles National Monument, 5000 Hwy 146, Paicines, CA 95043 or via email to (amy_fesnock@nps.gov). The comment period closes July 7, 2002.

For more information regarding the project please contact Chad Moore, Physical Scientist, at (831) 389-4485 ext. 246 or at chad_moore@nps.gov.

California Condor Release Program Environmental Assessment Available For Review (05/31/2002)

Pinnacles National Monument has been chosen as a possible release site for the reintroduction of the endangered California Condor.

The article reproduced below announces the completion of an environmental assessment document for the release of California Condors back to Pinnacles National Monument.

How This Affects Climbers

While Friends Of Pinnacles fully supports the re-introduction on condors to the Pinnacles, climbers will be asked to make voluntary sacrafices in order to make the program possible. Due to their nesting habits, additional closures will be necessary to accomodate the condor reintroduction. From our understanding, some specific areas will be closed for a longer period of time every other year.

If you climb regularly at the Park you will want to at least read the assessment and send your comments to the park. You may also want to attend the public meeting:

Condor Environmental Assessment Meeting
Hollister City Council Chambers, 375 Fifth St.
7:00 PM - Wed, June 19th, 2002

For immediate release from Pinnacles National Monument

After months of planning, the Environmental Assessment of the Reestablishment of California Condors in the Pinnacles National Monument is available for public comment. This document discusses how a condor release program would be implemented in the Monument and what effects to the environment and visitor use of Pinnacles would be expected. The Monument's preferred alternative is to conduct an active condor release program to further the recovery of the species and return it to the Monument. California condors once nested in Pinnacles and were seen in the Monument through the early 1980's. If an active release program were conducted in Pinnacles, it would be a collaborative and cooperative venture between the National Park Service, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and Ventana Wilderness Society, a non-profit organization. "The possibility of Pinnacles being an integral part of the condor's recovery is very exciting," said Superintendent Cicely Muldoon.

Those interested in receiving a copy of the Environmental Assessment may download it from the monument's Web site (http://www.nps.gov/pinn/resource/eacondor.htm) or request a printed copy. Please send a postcard with your address or call (831) 389-4485 ext.0 to have one mailed to you. Additionally, copies will be available at the Monument's visitor centers and at the libraries in King City and Hollister.

The community is encouraged to attend a public meeting on Wednesday, June 19, 2002, starting at 7:00 pm, at the Hollister City Council Chambers, 375 Fifth Street or send comments to Pinnacles National Monument, 5000 Hwy 146, Paicines, CA 95043 or via email (amy_fesnock@nps.gov). The comment period closes July 3, 2002.

For more information please e-mail Amy Fesnock, Wildlife Biologist, or call at (831) 389-4485 ext 223.

Radio Show Features Pinnacles' Chad Moore (05/02/2002)

National Public Radio - Talk Of The Nation with Neal Conan

Today's show included a discussion of the "loss of the night sky." Almost two-thirds of the U.S. population can no longer see the Milky Way.

Pinnacles' own Chad Moore appeared as a guest on the Show discussing the work being done by the National Park Service to monitor night visibility.

The audio for this program is available on-line on the npr.org Web site.

East Side Parking Shuttle Update (04/23/2002)

Until further notice the Park will be reverting to the old style of shuttle service. Details for the new plan are still being sorted out.

This means that the parking lots will load from the top down or first come first serve as always. Climbers, arrive early to get a good parking space.

Shuttles will still be available to transport visitors from the overflow parking areas after the inner lots are full.

Friends Of Pinnacles Launches New Site (04/15/2002)

In an ongoing effort to provide better information to both Pinnacles climbers and general park visitors, FOP has launched a greatly improved new Web site.

At first glance things should look pretty much the same, but you will soon notice the improved navigation, information and services. Several new areas have been added including a Recommended Routes section and expanded About The Park area.

The biggest improvements are "behind the scenes." With the help of Manx Web Solutions (a Web development firm) FOP has converted it's Letters, Route Info and Rebolting Info sections to dynamic data delivery. This means all the information is stored in a database and delivered to the Web site when needed. Using dynamic data delivery will allow FOP to update it's information very quickly and accurately.

Of course the ever popular Gallery has received a bit of a face lift as well.

We here at FOP hope you enjoy the changes and look forward to your comments.

Mountain Lion Encounter (04/15/2002)

(copied directly from NPS Morning Report)
Over the past month, rangers have noticed an increase in mountain lion signs and vocalizations along the Old Pinnacles Trail.

On the night of March 31st, a ranger patrolling the trail alone heard movement on the hillside above him, followed by the sound of a large animal running down the hillside in his direction. Turning his flashlight on, he saw that the animal was a medium-sized mountain lion. The ranger's flashlight then faded and died. He tried to yell but unfortunately was hoarse from a cold and could barely speak above a whisper. He drew his pistol and, when the lion closed to within five yards, fired a round into the hillside between them. The lion veered off and continued across the trail ahead of the ranger into the brush of a creek bottom. The ranger backed down the trail, covering the area where he could hear the cat moving along the creek bed. The cat followed the ranger for about 300 yards, then disappeared.

Ten days later, a resource management employee hiking the same trail at midday reported what she believed to be a mountain lion growling at her from the brush. Rangers have posted educational and safety information regarding mountain lions at trailheads in response to these incidents. [Jerry Case, PINN, 4/15]

New Weekend Visitor Shuttle Service for East District (02/01/2002)

Notice! The new shuttle plan has been postponed. See the Shuttle Update above for current information.

Beginning Saturday, March 9 and operating each weekend through Sunday, June 9 the park will be operating its new 22 passenger bus with wheelchair accessibility. The shuttle is free of charge to all visitors with a paid entrance fee and will run continuously throughout the day until the monument closes. The shuttle runs from the new parking area outside of the east entrance of the monument and can drop passengers at all the standard locations in the park.

For further details regarding the new shuttle policy go to: www.nps.gov/pinn/visit/shuttle.htm.

Another Accident at The Tourist Trap (05/01/2001)

On May 5th a climber from Fairfax, California fell about 25 feet while climbing near Rat Race at the Tourist Trap. The climber was knocked unconscious and became tangled in his ropes during the fall. Ranger Neal Labrie climbed 30 feet to the climber where he treated his injuries before lowering him to waiting paramedics. After treatment at San Jose Valley Medical Center, the climber was released.

The CDF, American Medical Response and Calstar II Air Ambulance were also involved in the rescue. This was the second major climbing accident at the Tourist Trap in the past year.

For details of the previous accident see Climbing Accident On Tourist Trap.

Hiker Rescued (04/01/2001)

Upon noticing an unattended vehicle in the Chaparral parking lot on the West Side ranger Shawn Murphy initiated the search effort. Murphy recognized the vehicle as belonging to local resident. The man was well known to district staff as a hiker who frequently explores off-trail, but always returns to his vehicle well before dark. The Hiker had wisely left a note on the vehicle, saying that he was headed to Resurrection Wall.

The 80-year-old man has had two knee replacement operations further hastening the search of the Resurrection Wall area. Murphy made voice contact with the hiker who was stranded on a ledge 25 feet above the base of the wall at around 10:00 PM.

Rangers from the East Side immediately helped in coordinating the necessary rescue effort. The man became stuck on the ledge after attempting to reach his dropped backpack. When he found that he was stranded, he chose to stay put and await help. Thankfully, the hiker was uninjured.

The Park Service notes that increased visitation this spring has brought with it a noticeable increase in SAR and EMS incidents.

A New Type of Bolt at the Pinns (03/01/2001)

As of Mar 2001 an effort has begun to replace critical and high traffic bolts throughout the park with new titanium glue-ins. These titanium bolts offer unparalleled durability and strength in soft rock - perfect for Pinnacles conditions. Although the placement of these bolts is a bit of an art, when placed correctly these bolts could last 10, 20 even 100 years. This means less damage to the rock over time, which is good news for both climbers and the Park Service.

The following bolts have been replaced with the new titanium glue-ins:

Discovery Verdict - 3 bolts
The Monolith Cantaloupe Death - five bolts
Feed the Beast - four bolts
Regular route - two bolts

These titanium bolts are either 3" or 6" depending on the relative rock hardness. Because the glue used with glue-in bolts forms a bond with the surrounding rock the resulting bond can actually be stronger than the surrounding rock. For more information regarding Greg Barnes and the ASCA go to: http://www.safeclimbing.org/

Pinnacles Climber is Declared Brain-Dead, will be Organ Donor (07/28/2000)

By Larry Slonaker, Mercury News (Due the serious nature of this incident we are reprinting this SJ Mercury in its entirety. Our thanks to Larry Slonaker)

Note: William Ayers is the same climber reported injured in the previous article: Climbing Accident.

A 22-year-old Menlo Park man injured in a climbing accident at Pinnacles National Monument over the weekend was declared brain-dead late Wednesday and placed on life support to await organ-transplant recipients.

William Ayers, a computer technician at a Palo Alto law firm, was climbing with his brother at the popular rock-climbing area southeast of Hollister on Saturday afternoon. Nearing the top of his climb, he slipped and one of the anchors holding his rope gave way, said his brother, Mike Ayers, 21.

William Ayers fell about 25 feet, his brother said. An anchor at a lower point held the rope, but in the fall he apparently struck his head just below his helmet.

"He had no other injuries -- not even bruises," Mike Ayers said.

William Ayers drifted in and out of consciousness, but by the time rescuers were able to get him to an ambulance, he lost consciousness and did not regain it, his brother said.

The ambulance took William Ayers to a nearby rendezvous with a helicopter, and he was airlifted from the remote spot to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

It was the first climbing fatality at the Pinnacles in about 11 years. Pinnacles staff does not track the number of climbers, but the area draws about 200,000 visitors a year -- "many of them climbers," said chief ranger Jerry Case.

Mike Ayers characterized their climb, near the Moses Spring trail head, as fairly easy. He and his brother have been climbing about seven years, he said, several times at Pinnacles.

The brothers' mother, Nancy Ayers, said her sons did not get to climb together much anymore, "so that day was a special day for them."

Last year, Mike Ayers fell while climbing and broke both ankles, his elbow and wrist. He ended up in a hospital room next to the one where his brother lay Thursday afternoon.

"I don't know if I'll climb again," he said. "When I was on the rock doing first aid, I was saying, There's no way."

"Since then . . . I could see myself getting back into it. It's how I deal with stuff."

The Staff at Friends Of Pinnacles sends our heartfelt condolences to William's family and friends. If there is anything we can do, please contact us.

Climber's Note: The accident apparently occurred on the upper section of Thrill Hammer with the fall ending on the ledge where Pastie begins.

Climbing Accident on the Tourist Trap (07/22/2000)

[This report excerpted from the National Park Service Morning Report]

Ranger Richard Banuelos received a report of an injured climber on the "Tourist Trap" route on Saturday, July 22nd. Ranger/EMT Don Gauvreau responded and found the Menlo Park climber on a ledge, semiconscious and suffering from severe head trauma.

He had fallen about 20 feet, striking his head just below his helmet. The climber was lowered 25 feet to the base of the cliff with the help of his fellow climbers, including his brother. A team comprised of park staff and CDF firefighters transported the climber to an ambulance, then taken to a helicopter that flew him to Valley Medical Center. At the time of the report, he was in critical condition with severe inter-cranial swelling.

Note: This climber later died of his injuries. See Climbing Fatality article above.

A Fond Farewell To Clarence Wheeler (03/07/2000)

Clarence Wheeler, who retired in 1995 as maintenance supervisor for the park's West Side, passed away on March 7th after a long-fought battle against cancer. Clarence began working at Pinnacles in 1976 after a 21-year career with the military.

Clarence is survived by his wife, Kathe, daughter, Agnete, and a grandson and granddaughter. Services will be held at 11 a.m. on March 10th at the Struve and Laporte Funeral Chapel in Salinas. Letters to the family may be sent to Kathe Wheeler, 104 Hawthorne Street, Salinas, CA 93901. [Debbie Simons, PINN]

Drug Arrest at Pinnacles National Monument (03/04/2000)

On March 4th, ranger Robert Baker saw a black Saab pass through the park entrance station without stopping to pay the required entrance fee. During the contact with the operator, Charles Andree, 51, Baker smelled the strong odor of marijuana. When asked for drugs, Andree produced several partially smoked marijuana cigarettes. An open travel bag with a large amount of marijuana (218 grams) was seen on the floor near the passenger, Robert Franko, 43.

A search of the vehicle led to the discovery of another 400 grams of marijuana, 14 grams of hashish, $1,650 in cash, and drug paraphernalia. Andree and Franko were each arrested on a misdemeanor and three felony counts. The minimum amount of marijuana that the local U.S. Attorney's Office will prosecute is 100 kilos, so the case has been transferred to San Benito county for prosecution in the state system. The two men were held on $41,000 bond.

Pinnacles Park Expansion Signed (01/12/2000)

(excerpted from NY Times article by Marc Lacey)

Using the Antiquities Act of 1906 (first employed by President Theodore Roosevelt 92 years ago today) President Clinton created the Grand Canyon National Monument.

Mr. Clinton also granted monument status to Agua Fria, 71,000 acres north of Phoenix containing prehistoric ruins, and to thousands of desolate islands, rocks and exposed reefs off the California coast and expanded the protected spire-like rock formations at the Pinnacles National Monument east of Salinas, Calif., by more than 8,000 acres.

View full-sized Park Expansion Map.

Parks Expansion Urged (12/13/1999)

(excerpted from NY Times article by Michael Janofsky)

The Clinton Administration is a step closer to adding close to 8000 acres to Pinnacles National Monument.

Based on recommendations made by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbit the President intends to use the Antiquities Act to create and expend several parks. Passage of the act requires little more than the President's signature.

Republicans are opposed to the usage of the Antiquities Act. Chairman of the House national parks subcommittee, Representative James Hansen of Utah, is trying to block passage saying that the Antiquities Act was never intended to be used for such a large expansion. Rep. Hansen has introduced legislation intended to restrict the president's discretionary powers.

President Clinton intends to execute the Act before the end of his last term. (see article above)

West Side Pinnacles Closed December 14th and 15th (12/01/1999)

Park Superintendent Steve Shackelton announced that due to construction requirements for two culvert replacements, West Pinnacles will be closed to all traffic on December 14 and 15, 1999. This work is required due to the damage which occurred during the "El Nino" flood in February 1998. This closure will not affect access to east Pinnacles.

Clinton Administration Wants To Add 4,906 Acres to Pinnacles (10/07/1999)

(excerpted from the San Jose News article)

The San Jose Mercury News reported that "Pinnacles National Monument, a haven for hikers and rock climbers that each year draws 200,000 visitors to the ranch lands of San Benito County, could expand by 30 percent under a Clinton administration plan unveiled Monday."

Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt said the proposal is designed to help protect the rugged park's wild character against development pressures from Silicon Valley and elsewhere. The proposal comes at one of about a dozen federal sites in the West where the Clinton administration is considering establishing or expanding a national monument or enlarging a national park.

Babbitt is scheduled to tour the park Wednesday with national parks director Robert Stanton and local rangers. He hopes to expand the 16,283-acre park by 4,906 acres. Under the proposal, the National Park Service would purchase a private ranch, the 1,967-acre Pinnacles Ranch, from three owners. The ranch has been appraised at $4.6 million. The land straddles Highway 146 next to the park's eastern entrance, 30 miles south of Hollister, and includes a privately run campground that park officials say they would continue to operate.

"It's time for all of us to sell, at our ages," said Stuart Kingman, 65, a retired Hewlett-Packard Co. engineer who moved from the San Jose area to the ranch in 1978. "Between the three of us, there are 13 children involved. It was really going to mess up an estate. We all prefer that it become part of the park. It's a beautiful piece of property."

"One of the real attractions of Pinnacles is that you are 90 minutes away from Silicon Valley but you can go back 200 years," said Gary Candelaria, Pinnacles superintendent. "You get to have solitude and silence." San Benito County Supervisor Ron Rodrigues said he has "mixed feelings" because he would like to see the park expand but is reluctant to lose the private ranch land from the tax rolls. Parks officials say cows will be removed if the lands are added to the park.

(See article above)

Chief Ranger Mark Igo Retires (07/08/1999)

Chief ranger Mark Igo is retiring. Mark's career has taken him to Big Bend, Amistad, Glen Canyon, Curecanti, back to Glen Canyon, then to Pinnacles. Friday will be his last day in the office. Mark and Marlene will become full-time travelers in their motor home and will be visiting many of the areas they haven't been able to get to during the last 27 years. Friends Of Pinnacles wishes Mark and Marlene the best of luck in their endeavors.

New Bridge Construction (05/26/1999)

Park Superintendent Gary Candelaria has announced that construction is about to begin on a new bridge over Chalone Creek at Pinnacles National Monument. This new bridge replaces the Civilian Conservation Corps-era bridge that collapsed during the "El Nino" flood of February, 1998. The bridge provides access to the Bear Gulch Visitor Center, administration buildings, and some residences. A temporary Bailey-bridge has provided access to Bear Gulch buildings and facilities since March of last year.

The new bridge will imitate the style of the historic CCC bridge, but will be located above the 100-year flood plain and allow unrestricted water flow during periods of high water. Bridge design and construction administration is being overseen by the Federal Highway Administration. Agee Construction Corporation of Clovis, California, has been contracted to build the bridge.

During construction, which should last from June 1999 to January 2000, visitors may experience short delays in accessing the Visitor Center and the Chalone Creek Picnic Area. However, all areas affected by the construction will remain open and the public is encouraged to continue visiting the Monument.

Climbers Rescued on Machete Ridge (03/08/1999)

Rescue Rangers noted a vehicle in the Chaparral parking lot past closing hours on the evening of March 8th. Park raptor monitor Monique Imberski reported having seen two climbers on the Machete Ridge climbing route that day.

Rangers Robert Baker and Carl Brenner soon located the young couple on the face of the ridge. They had continued their climb toward the top even as darkness approached and soon found themselves without light and unable to descend. They were wearing only light clothing, and temperatures were already dropping into the 40s, with a significant wind chill. The rangers provided them with lights. Baker then talked the pair safely down through various pitches over a period of seven hours.

The couple stopped on a ledge around midnight, and it appeared that rangers were going to have to climb to them. Members of a climbing team were accordingly staged, but the two climbers were able to make the final descent and hike out. They showed some signs of hypothermia but were otherwise uninjured. [Mark Igo, CR, PINN, 3/9]

Castle Rock Preliminary General Plan Available for Public Review (03/01/1999)

The Preliminary General Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Report for Castle Rock State Park will be available for public review Monday, March 1, 1999, at the following locations:

  • Big Basin Redwoods State Park 21600 Big Basin Way Boulder Creek, CA 95006
  • Boulder Creek Library 13390 W. Park Avenue Boulder Creek, CA 95006
  • DPR Northern Service Center 1725 23rd Street, Suite 200 Sacramento, CA 95816
  • Felton Library 6299 Gashee Felton, CA 95018
  • Library UC Santa Cruz Santa Cruz, CA 95064
  • Library CA State University, San Jose San Jose, CA 95192
  • Los Gatos City Library 110 E. Main Street Los Gatos, CA 95032
  • San Francisco City Library Civic Center San Francisco, CA 94142
  • San Jose Main Library 180 W. San Carlos Street San Jose, CA 95113
  • Saratoga Community Library 13650 Saratoga Avenue Saratoga, CA 95113
  • Santa Clara Central Library 2635 Homested Road Santa Clara, CA 95051
  • Santa Cruz District Office 600 Ocean Street Santa Cruz, CA 95060
  • Santa Cruz Public Library 224 Church Street Santa Cruz, CA 95060
  • Scotts Valley Library 230 Mt. Herman Road Scotts Valley, CA 95066

Written comments on the Preliminary General Plan and Draft EIR must be received by April 15, 1999 at the Northern Service Center, 1725 23rd Street, Suite 200 Sacramento, CA 95816. For more information, members of the public may call (916) 323-0975.

Message From Park Superintendent - Gary Candelaria (01/26/1999)

I think spring is going to be busy. Please let the folks know that parking is going to be the biggest problem at the Pinnacles this year now that the YACC lot on the East Side gone. We're going to be stretched to the max on weekends, and any climbers who can do so might want to consider climbing on weekdays to make finding a parking place closer to the trail heads easier. If weekends are their only option, then arriving early in the morning is a must. We'll be using a remote lot on the Pinnacles Campground with shuttles to and from Bear Gulch and the Chalone Creek areas when parking inside the park is full. Another curveball is going to be the Chalone Creek bridge replacement project, which will commence in April or May and further reduce road access and parking.

West Side parking was also reduced by flood waters, and we'll be using portable toilets at Chaparral for the season. Final repairs to the Chaparral utilities will start in June. Again, either a weekday visit or early arrival on Sat. and Sun. are advisable.

Visiting hours in the park are 7:30am to 7:00pm after Feb. 1. They'll go to 9pm later in the spring. The only camping available is at the Pinnacles Campground.

Needless to say, this spring is going to be a challenge. We hope for patience and understanding from all as we try to cope with the lingering impacts of last winter's flood.

Climbers can call the park for raptor and condition updates at 831 (new area code) 389-4485.

Results of Recent Management Plan Meetings (12/01/1998)

The recent round of planning meetings to initiate the General Management Plan for Pinnacles National Monument are complete (see "Upcoming Management Plan Meetings" in the "Old News" section).

Several FOP members attended and the result in a nutshell is good news. As reported by David Rubine, who attended the Monterey meeting: "Gary Candelaria seemed unbelievably open to our input and minimal regulations." Gary indicated a genuine desire to maintain our successful ongoing climber/ NPS relationship.

Although the deadline for "scoping" the Management Plan has come and gone Gary made it clear the climbing part of the plan was months away from being addressed. He also indicated that FOP and the general climbing community could present its concerns and input at any time.

FOP plans to resubmit the plan it proposed a while ago along with any new input you care to give us. We will post a copy of that plan as soon as possible for your feedback.

FOP Web Site is Back On-line (11/14/1998)

The Friends of Pinnacles web site has been off-line for close to 3 weeks due to problems with its web server. FOP has changed servers and is now back on-line.

Look for new things in the coming weeks including: new images, new contests and new information.

Thank you all for your patience.

Upcoming Management Plan Meetings (11/01/1998)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Park Superintendent Gary Candelaria (831) 389-4485

PINNACLES NATIONAL MONUMENT ANNOUNCES SECOND SET OF PLANNING MEETINGS

A second set of meetings to initiate the General Management Plan process for Pinnacles National Monument will be held in the following locations: Hollister City Council Chambers (Dec. 1), the Casa Munras Hotel in Monterey (Dec. 2), and the City of Campbell Conference Room (Dec. 3). All meetings will begin at 7:00 p.m. The public is again invited to attend to help park staff and National Park Service planners begin this important planning process.

"Public input and direction is vital for a successful Pinnacles planning effort" Candelaria said. " It's not enough for just National Park Service staff to plan the park's future; the park's users, neighbors, and supporters should have a say in this too."

Scoping meetings help planners define the range and areas of interest and concern the plan should address. Professional park planners from the National Park Service Pacific West Regional Office in San Francisco will be present at the meetings to explain the General Management Plan process, answer questions, and listen to public input.

Written scoping comments are also invited. They can be mailed to the Superintendent, Pinnacles N.M., 5000 Highway 146, Paicines, CA 95043. Written comments should be submitted by December 15, 1998.

The Hollister City Council Chambers are located at 375 Fifth St. in Hollister. Casa Munras Hotel is at 700 Munras Ave. in Monterey. The City of Campbell Conference Room is at 1 West Campbell Ave. in Campbell.

FIRE Closes Monument! (07/01/1998)

Excerpted from an EMail sent to FOP by Gary Candelaria (Superintendent, Pinnacles National Monument)

The latest is that the fire has generally burned itself out. Containment is expected to be declared at 8pm tonight (8/6); control (which means "out" more or less) is expected for Monday, 8/10 at 8pm. At the peak, which was Tuesday, almost 500 firefighters and 75 overhead from the NPS, USFS, CDF, BLM, and other mutual aid fire departments were working on the fire. Folks are beginning to be demobilized this afternoon. The fire was caused by a power line arc or short.

Acreage burned is estimated at 2,950 total; 65% or so is on the park, generally in the South Wilderness. The balance is BLM and private land. No climbing areas were threatened or impacted. No serious injuries, no structures or homes burned. The resource impacts will be generally beneficial, provided we don't have extensive or heavy rains that could cause erosion. The fire's boundaries are essentially from Mt. Defiance east to within 1 mile of Hwy 25 on a line along Hwy 146; south to Grassy Canyon, then back east to Chalone Creek. Then SW across the South Wilderness to a point 1 mile east of South Chalone Peak, then back northwest to Mt. Defiance.

The park has been closed during the fire, but we expect to reopen to visitors on Saturday, Aug. 8 at 7:30am. The South Wilderness Trail will be closed, as will the North Chalone Peak Trail from the saddle behind Mt. Defiance, since the fire will not yet be considered out and there may be firefighters cold-trailing the perimeter and removing hazards out there. As soon as safe after the fire is declared controlled, visitors will be able to hike in the burned area.

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