CIR Expands Work on San Nicolas Island

Plants grown by CIR at the
San Nicolas Island nursery
Channel Islands Restoration will grow at least 3,000 plants on San Nicolas Island in 2014, which will be used to restore habitat for the endangered island night lizard.  We will also return to our ongoing project of removing invasive plants in sensitive habitat occupied by rare native plants.

In 2012, CIR constructed a native plant nursery on the island and grew and planted more than 1,200 plants for an erosion control project on the eastern side of the island.  This year we continued working to eradicate several invasive plants, including Sahara mustard from habitat of Cryptantha traskiae, a threatened plant in the Borage family. Sahara mustard is a highly invasive plant that has caused great ecological damage in the deserts.  The U.S. Navy is committed to controlling or even eradicating the mustard from the island and to supporting the recovery of the island night lizard.  CIR donated much of our staff time to the eradication project over the last several years.

The island night lizard, which is found on only three of the Channel Islands, thrives in native plants like prickly pear cactus and boxthorn.  CIR will grow several species in the island nursery that are important to the recovery of the lizard habitat. 

The eastern coast of San Nicolas Island with
giant Coreopsis in boom
Volunteers will help remove the invasives and will help with growing the plants.  These projects would not happen without the help of volunteers, but the logistics of taking volunteers to islands owned by the Navy are complicated.  Each volunteer must undergo a background check and obtain a pass before they can enter the Point Mugu Naval Air Station, where we board flights to the island.  Once on the island, volunteers stay at motel-like housing, at the volunteer’s expense.   Although this can add up to nearly $200 per trip, for most volunteers the price is well worth it.  Volunteer opportunities on the Navy islands are rare, and San Nicolas Island is a particularly interesting place to visit. 

Volunteers pose while removing Sahara Mustard
from San Nicolas Island
In 2013, CIR made several trips to the island to remove invasive plants.  In addition to the mustard and other invasives, CIR staff and volunteers worked to remove carnation spurge (Euphorbia terracina) on the island.  Carnation spurge is quickly spreading in California, and the Navy hopes to eradicate it from San Nicolas Island.

CIR is proud of our partnership with the U.S. Navy on San Nicolas Island.  We also work closely with ACS Habitat Management and the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens on the San Nicolas Island projects.  Although CIR has received funding from the Navy to work on all of these projects, we have also donated many thousands of dollars in staff time when funding has not been available.

CIR volunteers plant natives on San Nicolas Island
















Island Fox seen by CIR volunteers on San Nicolas Island