Conserving the "Cloud Forest" on Santa Rosa Island



CIR staff installing organic-fiber wattles around groves on Santa Rosa Island.
Outstanding efforts were made this fall by CIR staff and volunteers, partnered with Channel Islands National Park, to begin restoring the unique “Cloud Forest” of Santa Rosa Island! CIR coordinated seven restoration trips to Santa Rosa Island, and 50 volunteers contributed their hard work and diligence to assist on this important restoration project.
 
The project goals are to slow erosion on the island and replace the lost fog-water-harvesting vegetation, such as the rare island oak trees. During the volunteer trips, erosion control devises were built and installed in areas on the island that have been severely impacted by the overgrazing of non-native species.  Volunteers sorted, loaded and transported multiple stake bed truckloads of wood to the restoration sites that were used in the construction of check dams and silt fences in eroded gullies.  Volunteers pounded in rebar and posts as structural support for the dams and material silt fences. Organic-fiber wattles and rock bags were filled and assembled, transported, and installed on the island’s ridges and around groves. Staff and volunteers put in long but satisfying hours, knowing they were assisting in a unique and vital restoration project, and enjoying  the spectacular island setting and work group comradery.

 
Volunteers construct check dams and silt fences in eroded gullies.
Even CIR volunteers on the mainland assisted with the “Cloud Forest” project!  Channel Islands National Park hosted two volunteer events in October and November to help assemble and roll wattles to be installed on Santa Rosa Island during the volunteer trips.  Kathryn McEachern, Research Plant Ecologist from the U.S. Geological Survey, who led the volunteer events wrote, “Thanks to everybody who helped roll erosion control wattles for the Santa Rosa Island Cloud Forest Restoration project, on October 31 and November 14!  About 50 folks helped (some came twice!), and we made about 150 20-foot long wattles in a little under 7 hours of work over the two weekends.  Those made on Halloween are already at work on the slope above the ancient oaks at the Soledad Ridge on Santa Rosa Island.”
 
Volunteers excited to start restoration on Santa Rosa Island.
Funding for these restoration trips was provided by a grant through the National Park Service, which covered boat transportation through the NPS boat and Island Packers, and lodging at the Santa Rosa Island Research Station operated by CSU Channel Islands.  CIR has been grateful to work with so many amazing volunteers and organizations to help restore the natural environment of Santa Rosa Island in Channel Islands National Park.