Giant coreopsis (Coreopsis gigantea) is an enigmatic poster-child of the Channel Islands due to its large size and vibrant colors. The big, floppy daisy-like petals and verdant green leaves can often be seen framing the edges of pictures taken at Inspiration Point on Anacapa Island in the spring.
Here at Channel Islands Restoration we work in a lot of scenic places - the cliffs of East Anacapa Island, the peaks of Santa Rosa Island, on the sand dunes of San Nicolas Island, along the banks of the Sisquoc River, in the rolling grasslands of the San Marcos Foothills, and more. However, sometimes it’s not so glamorous, and that’s been the experience for many of our field technicians in the past few months.
With this year’s rain, it’s looking like it’ll be a great year for wildflowers! Blankets of poppies and lupine, pockets of monkeyflowers, lilies, and fiesta flowers, rare stream orchids and Humboldt lilies, and more can be found all throughout the Central Coast - but the question is, where?
The Santa Cruz Island buckwheat (Eriogonum arborescens) is an extraordinary plant species, as it is endemic to three Channel Islands: Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and Anacapa. The little shrub is mostly found on bluffs and canyons on Santa Rosa and Anacapa, but it's found all along Santa Cruz Island.
The manzanita (Arctostaphylos spp.), a plant most distinguishable by its smooth, twisted red bark, is a key component to California’s beautiful chaparral environment. There are over 40 species of manzanita in the genus Arctostaphylos. They are found in parts of Oregon and Washington and as far south as Mexico. However, they are most common in California.
Early Sunday morning, a group of motivated volunteers met up at the trailhead of San Marcos Foothills to help restore the native habitat. The group spent around three hours pulling out the invasive weeds surrounding the native plants on the Preserve.
Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) is a common native shrub here on the Central Coast, which is easily identifiable by its small, but brilliant red berries, which give it its other common names – Christmas berry and California holly.
Along with Channel Islands Restoration’s mission to restore habitat on the Central Coast and Channel Islands is our goal of providing environmental education to under-served students through environmental service trips.
The Goleta Slough is a large salt marsh (estuary) located around the Santa Barbara Airport and UCSB. In a healthy estuary, saltwater from the ocean goes into and out of the estuary twice each day with the tides. However, in one of the estuary’s channels, “tide gates” were installed sometime before 1942 in order to prevent tidewaters from moving up into the upper part of the estuary.
Robin’s help this season on San Nicolas Island has been invaluable. She has helped with every aspect of our work on the island, from propagating plants to getting them in the ground. Robin has spent 44 days on the island, some of which have been multi-day trips, but most have been single-day trips.
In August 2017, a grant from UCSB Coastal Fund enabled staff and volunteers from Channel Islands Restoration and students from UC Santa Barbara to perform a survey of the endangered salt marsh bird’s-beak and Coulter’s goldfields in the marsh.
The San Marcos Foothills experienced an exceptionally hot and dry summer along with the rest of the region and we were concerned about the survival of the native seedlings we had just planted. Luckily, with some watering throughout the season, they survived it. Now, after the January rain, invasive plants are surging up from billions of dormant seeds. Our native plants received a head start from irrigation during the summer, but winter can be a critical time for young plants, because they can become overwhelmed by fast-growing non-native annual grasses and other weeds that compete for soil moisture and sun.
We are currently growing and maintaining nearly 13,000 native and endemic island plants as part of our current restoration project. These plants were grown from seed and cuttings collected exclusively from the island under the watchful eyes of our Nursery Manager, Kelle Green and Nursery Assistant, Sarah Spellenberg. It has taken the dedication of thousands of staff and volunteer hours to successfully propagate, grow and maintain such a large number of plants at an isolated island nursery 60 miles off shore.
We are glad to announce that Friends of the Island Fox (FIF) is joining the CIR family. FIF is a group which supports efforts to preserve and protect the island fox (Urocyon littoralis) on the California Channel Islands through conservation and education programs. FIF became a key component in the efforts to help restore the number of island foxes when they were threatened with extinction. Today, Island Foxes throughout the Channel Islands are no longer endangered, which is thanks in part to the help of FIF and their supporters. Now FIF will continue their conservation efforts as a program of CIR.
In the wake of the Thomas Fire, many people have expressed concern over the state of the burn areas, particularly in relation to landslides from the bare slopes and how native and invasive plants will respond.
Channel Islands Restoration has experienced unprecedented growth in 2017. Due to the energy of our volunteers and staff and the generosity of our donors, we have worked on 25 projects in 2017 so far. We have removed an uncountable number of invasive weeds, propagated tens of thousands of plants and we restored habitat from the Channel Islands to the San Rafael Wilderness and everywhere in between. More than 800 volunteers and around 200 financial donors have made this possible.
Base personnel from the environmental department onboard Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) Point Mugu, California with some help from the Channel Islands Restoration (CIR) staff and volunteers are enhancing critical wetlands without competing with the base’s military mission.