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Clinton Administration Wants To Add 4,906 Acres to Pinnacles

(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)

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