San Nicolas Island, as seen from the air by Channel Islands Restoration volunteers recently

Channel Islands Restoration staff and a group of volunteers spent five days on San Nicolas Island beginning last week removing Sahara mustard (Brassica tournefortii) in sensitive Coreopsis scrub habitat.  This is the second trip for CIR this year to work on this project, and the third year in a row that CIR has worked on this project.  The Mustard is a highly invasive, non-native plant that has caused a great deal of destruction to native habitat in the deserts and other environments in California and elsewhere.  The Navy is working to keep the mustard from spreading on San Nicolas, and CIR has been removing it where it grows around some rare plants.  San Nicolas Island is owned by the U.S. Navy, and Channel Islands Restoration is under contract to do habitat restoration on the island.

San Nicolas Island fox

Endemic foxes live on six of the eight California Channel Islands, and there is a healthy population on San Nicolas Island.  Channel Islands Restoration staff and volunteers always see foxes when we visit the island to work, and this last trip was not exceptions!

Island Night Lizard


This Island Night Lizard was seen by Channel Islands Restoration volunteers on our resent trip to San Nicolas Island.  Island Night Lizards are found only on San Nicolas, Santa Barbara, and San Clemente Islands. They have large populations on San Clemente and San Nicolas Islands, and they are still federally listed as an endangered species.

Northern elephant seal

This northern elephant seal (and many more) were seen by Channel Islands Restoration volunteers on our resent trip to San Nicolas Island.  Elephant seals breed on the island.  Elephant seals breed on the island.

Channel Islands Restoration volunteers removing Sahara mustard on San Nicolas

Channel Islands Restoration volunteers removing Sahara mustard on San Nicolas

The photos above show Channel Islands Restoration volunteers hand-removing Sahara mustard on San Nicolas Island on our recent trip there.  Giant Coreopsis (Leptosyne gigantea) is the large, green plants with the yellow blooms.  It grows in huge stands on San Nicolas Island and is the dominant plant in a community of plants called Coreopsis scrub.  Cryptantha traskiae (a rare plant found only on San Nicolas and San Clemente islands) grows in the same habitat and is threatened by the spread of Sahara mustard.  CIR volunteers have to be carefully tried to work in this sensitive environment and around rare plants.


Giant Coreopsis in bloom on San Nicolas Island.  Late February is the peak booming season for this plant on San Nicolas Island.





Sand dune on San Nicolas Island (with giant Coreopsis in the foreground).









The bloom of Giant Coreopsis.  Giant Coreopsis is in the sunflower family.



Channel Islands Restoration volunteers pose at Coral Harbor on San Nicolas Island.