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Birthday fete planned for Pinnacles National Park

PINNACLES NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (AP) -- Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and other government officials are hosting a birthday party for America's newest national park, a 26,000-acre expanse of volcanic rock and chaparral in Central California.

Pinnacles National Monument was upgraded to national park status last month when President Barack Obama signed a bill making it the 59th national park in the U.S. and the ninth located in California.

Salazar and congressman Sam Farr are touring Pinnacles on Monday to celebrate the designation.

Farr co-sponsored the bill bestowing the national park designation in part to promote Pinnacles and help boost its attendance. As a monument, Pinnacles has had about 343,000 visitors a year, many of them rock climbers drawn by its eponymous cliffs and rock spires.

The park also is home to endangered California condors.

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