Channel Islands Restoration and volunteers, in partnership with the U.S. Navy, have been kept busy with the restoration project on San Nicolas Island this year! Since February, CIR has successfully installed 8,000 island native plants with the help of 58 volunteers over the course of 5 multi-day volunteer trips. This completed the planting phase that began in December of last year when our first volunteer planting crew started by putting in native plants, including California box thorn and two species of native cacti, to help with erosion control on the island and to help enhance habitat for the Island Night Lizard.

The Island Night Lizard is endemic to only three of the eight Channel Islands. The lizard was recently removed from the endangered species list because of conservation efforts led by the Navy on San Nicolas and San Clemente Islands, and by the Park Service on Santa Barbara Island. Navy staff on San Nicolas have designed a project to enhance lizard habitat by planting species the lizard is known to favor.

In the wild, these thorny plants grow in impenetrable thickets that protect lizards from predators. CIR propagated these native plants from seed in the island nursery that was rebuilt by CIR in 2012. Even the seeds these plants grew from were collected on the island by CIR nursery staff and volunteers.

Through rain or shine, the valuable volunteer crews were able to finish plant installation and created an irrigation system for the native plants. All this could not have been accomplished without the hard work put in by CIR staff, Kevin Thompson and Nick Hernandez, and the dedicated volunteers who assisted on this restoration project. In upcoming months, CIR staff and volunteers will continue to care for these newly installed plants with watering and maintenance trips. Watch for upcoming volunteer opportunities!