Pinnacles Gateway Partners, which incorporates National Park staff, city and county personnel, and the San Benito County Chamber of Commerce, met March 15 at Eden Rift Vineyards in Paicines to receive updates on the Pinnacles and discover ways to promote communities as a gateway to the park.
The mission of the group is to work together to protect natural resources, encourage visitors, and economic development and community involvement for the Pinnacles National Park and gateway communities. One of their long-term goals is using gateway communities as entries to Pinnacles for the economic advantage for these communities.
Juli Viera, CEO and president of the San Benito Chamber of Commerce, asked the groups how gateway communities are helping in bringing tourist to the area.
“On a weekday, we see folks all around the world, some from Texas and even England,” said Karen Beppler-Dorn, superintendent of Pinnacles National Park. She said her mission is to invite visitors and protect the resources that make the park so unique. Spring is the busy season for the park, especially on weekends and the policy is “one car in, one car out between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.”
“During Presidents Day weekend the line of cars made it way out to Highway 25,” she said. “We’re filling up fast, any way to promote getting out to the park earlier or later the better, and even enjoying our gateway communities as well.”
She said they’ve looked at alternative ways of fixing the parking situation. “Hopefully in the future we find a solution,” she said.
“King City will be having a ribbon cutting for their new welcome sign which incorporates rocks to represent Pinnacles National Park,” said Karen Jernigan. Jernigan said there are efforts being made to upgrade downtown King City as well.
“One thing we’re really excited about in the near future is a new entrance station on the East Side of the Pinnacles,” she said. “Even a new 'iconic' entrance sign will be included so visitors can take a picture in front of it.”
Audience members asked how people can find out about volunteer opportunities in the park. Veronica Johnson, Volunteer Coordinator Pinnacles National Park, said the main method is through the park’s website.
Johnson said the park hosts volunteer groups including scouts and youth organizations to volunteer at the park. “They come for about three and a half hours and get some service done,” she said. “Also, our Every Kid in a Park program that the park puts on for fourth graders, even allows their families to access free passes to all national park for the year.”
A presentation by Michael Kohne, Marketing Director of Eden Rift Vineyards, closed the meeting.
For more information about the Pinnacles Gateway Partners contact Craig Kaufman via email at Craig@svtvb.org.
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