Pinnacles Gateway Partners set goals for 2019 at its Nov. 15 meeting at the Bolado Park Event Center in Tres Pinos.
The organization consists of National Park Service staff, Hollister, San Juan Bautista and San Benito County personnel, the San Benito County Chamber of Commerce and other partners from Monterey County and the cities of Soledad and Greenfield.
The group works to communicate and collaborate to protect natural resources, inspire visitors, economic development, and community involvement for Pinnacles National Park and its gateway communities. One long-term goal is to use the gateway communities as entrances to the park for economic benefit of said communities.
The group’s goals for the coming year are to build on the existing momentum by introducing Pinnacles to new visitors and how gateway communities can benefit the park.
“Pinnacles Gateway Partners is an opportunity for businesses to tell about themselves for visitors,” said Pinnacles Gateway Partner coordinator Craig Kaufman.
Kaufman asked the partners what the group’s successes and challenges were during 2018. One of the group’s highlights of 2018 was completing the “hidden gems” brochure that is distributed to gateway communities.
Pinnacles National Park Interim Superintendent Gus Martinez expressed his gratitude for being invited to the meeting. “This is a neat group and Pinnacles Gateway Partners does a good job of sharing these hidden gems,” he said. “It’s great there is a partnership already. The only thing is, I like to see where people are coming from to our park.”
Jennifer Westphal, executive director of Pinnacles National Park Foundation, said the development of a brochure was just one of the successes for the partnership. “One of the challenges the partners still face is making sure new people are invited to our meetings and keep the energy going,” Westphal said.
“To show our love for the Pinnacles National Park people can either volunteer or donate to give back,” she added.
Ohana Shave Ice owner and County Supervisor-elect Peter Hernandez said the group needed to sell an experience and tie it to the national park.
“We need more buy-in from businesses downtown,” Hernandez said. “I would love to see downtown Hollister with a banner, ‘Gateway to the Pinnacles.’”
Hollister Councilman and County Supervisor-elect Jim Gillio said the group needed more involvement from the City of Hollister.
Karen Jernigan of King City Glass said Pinnacles should encourage visitors to see the surrounding gateway partner cities.
“We want them to invest in what we have to offer,” Jernigan said.
Brent Johnson, chief of cultural resources at the national park, told the group that weekends at Pinnacles have been overcrowded, with visitors coming from all over. He said they will put an entrance station closer to Highway 25 to reduce visitor congestion when entering the park.
“Right now, rangers are managing the visitors at the entrance, but this will allow for them to patrol,” Johnson said.
Additionally, Johnson explained that the section from the campground to Highway 25 is now owned by the Pinnacles, not Caltrans.
Coordinator Kaufman said the community needs an organization like the Pinnacles Gateway Partners.
“Tourists want to have fun and we need to guide them to our gateways,” he said.