PRESS RELEASE (approximate date:  February 9, 1998)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Pinnacles National Monument

MAJOR STORM DAMAGE CLOSES PINNACLES

The storms that hit California last week have caused major flooding and damage at Pinnacles National Monument. Preliminary damage estimates are in the $2 to $2.5 million range. The park is closed to all visitors, and may be closed as long as a month while repairs are made to roads, bridges, utility systems, and trails. All residents have been evacuated, and only emergency personnel are being allowed into the park. No injuries to park staff or visitors have been reported. The flooding was caused by heavy rains that fell between Monday and Tuesday, February 2 and 3. Over six inches of rainfall was recorded in the park during that time.

Much of the damage was caused by Chalone Creek, which rose rapidly on the morning of February 3. The surging waters destroyed the electric and water distribution systems and the Chaparral Campground on the west side of the monument before washing out the waterline crossing that served the Bear Gulch headquarters area on the monument's East District.

The Civilian Conservation Corps era Chalone Creek Bridge was also destroyed by the flooding creek, isolating park headquarters, two residences, and the Bear Gulch visitor center. It may take as long as six months to build a permanent replacement bridge.

Park roads have been damaged, especially on the monument's west side. Damage to state Highway 25 and both ends of Highway 146 will make public access to Pinnacles difficult even after the park reopens. Due to the extensive road damage, lack of power, water, and telephone service, and with the treat of more rain, all park residents were moved to King City and Hollister. Temporary park offices have been established in those cities. All park staff have been accounted for and are safe.

Extensive trail damage caused by erosion and flooding is expected, with the Old Pinn, High Peaks, and Bear Gulch trails requiring extensive repairs. Dozens of trees have been blown down or washed out along creekbeds and in the Chalone Creek and Bear Gulch developed areas. One park mobile home on the West District at Chaparral has been undermined. All other park residences and buildings are in good condition, with only minor damage reported.

Park emergency repair crews on concentrating on protecting surviving roads, park buildings, and restoring utility services. The threat of additional rains this week adds urgency to their repair and stabilization work.

The 10.57" of rain recorded at Pinnacles in the first week of February, 1998, exceeds the total monthly rainfall amount for any February on record.

For further information, contact GARY CANDELARIA, Superintendent, or MARK IGO, Chief Ranger

Temporary phone number:
408-385-4843 ext 31, 7am - 6pm
Voice mail: 408-427-1321