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Anacapa Island

Plant Profile: Giant Coreopsis

Plant Profile: Giant Coreopsis

By Daniela Schwartz

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.

East Anacapa Island Restoration

East Anacapa Island Restoration

By Tanner Yould

Anacapa Island is more a chain of islets rather than one large island and because of this, it has a high ratio of coastline to interior. This expanse of ocean bluff and coastline provides critical and/or important habitat for seabirds, marine mammals, and a number of rare plants. The island boasts sixteen plant species that are found only on the Channel Islands, two of which are unique to Anacapa, and the largest breeding population of the formerly federally endangered Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) in California. Anacapa Island is  an important breeding location for the Scripps’s murrelet (Synthliboramphus scrippsi), one of the world’s rarest seabirds, and the ashy storm-petrel (Oceanodroma homochroa), a California Species of Special Concern.

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Anacapa Seabird Habitat Restoration Underway

By Channel Islands Restoration

Channel Islands Restoration, in a continuation of our restoration efforts on East Anacapa Island, is in the process of growing 2,500 plants to be installed in the coming fall. While we are growing many of the same plants grown in the past, this project differs in that we are now working in cooperation with multiple agencies. CIR has joined up with the National Park Service and the California Institute of Environmental Studies (CIES) to create and expand seabird habitat. With these joint forces, new plants will be on a drip system (which improves survival rates by over 50% or more). This new partnership is very exciting, and it will create a lasting impact that visitors will notice in the years to come.

The plants are being grown in our NPS/CIR constructed and maintained shade house and plant nursery stationed on the island which was made possible by a grant from Patagonia and NOAA B-WET and was built in collaboration with the National Park Service. The plants will be installed by CIES and volunteers, who are using funds from the Montrose Settlements Restoration Program to improve seabird habitat. CIR will be funding educational work trips for high school students to assist in habitat restoration as well.

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REI Funds Restoration Trips to Anacapa Island

By Channel Islands Restoration

A young volunteer plants cactus!

For the third year in a row, outdoor retailer REI has supported the Anacapa restoration project by providing a grant to CIR for native plant installation on the island.

The funds were granted to Channel Islands Restoration, which works in partnership with the National Park Service on the project.

Over the course of six trips, 30 volunteers planted several hundred plants including sage brush alkali rye grass and coastal prickly pear cactus.

CIR Volunteer, Doreen Jones, keeping the Anacapa Island

nursery plants happy.

The volunteers who helped on these trips were all associated with local conservation groups or were employees or members of the local REI stores.

Participating groups includes Santa Barbara Audubon Society,

Ventura Surfrider Foundation and the Santa Barbara Zoo.

Most of the trips were led by Kelle Green, the CIR nursery manager and all around NPS volunteer.

The groups worked hard, and also had an opportunity to take a short walk on the island following the restoration work.

CIR thanks all the volunteers and REI for making these trips possible!

Volunteers from the Santa Barbara Zoo plant natives near the historic lighthouse.

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Over 6,000 Volunteer for CIR since 2002

By Channel Islands Restoration

Over 6,000 Volunteer for CIR since 2002

Volunteers from REI volunteer for CIR on Anacapa Island.

REI is one of several groups that have joined thousands

of other volunteers on CIR projects

Since Channel Islands Restoration regularly started working with volunteers in 2002, a total of 6,273 people have volunteered for our program on nearly fifty projects on the Channel Islands, and at many mainland locations.

At a recent social event held in appreciation of CIR supporters, Executive Director, Ken Owen, reviewed CIR’s history and directly attributed our success to the tremendous support of our volunteers.

CIR has grown from a two-person volunteer operation centered on an invasive tree removal program on Santa Cruz Island, to a full-service environmental restoration and education non-profit organization with ten employees.

We have worked on all eight of the Channel Islands and have projects in dozens of mainland locations, from Orcutt in the north, to San Pedro in the south.

CIR volunteers on Santa Cruz Island in 2002

CIR founders Ken Owen and Duke McPherson met on Santa Cruz Island and quickly realized they shared a passion for the unique native habitat of the Channel Islands.

Before there was a regular habitat restoration program on Santa Cruz, Duke and Ken made quarterly trips to Nature Conservancy property

with the Restoration Club from U.C. Santa Barbara to remove invasive plants, particularly Eucalyptus trees.

Later, Ken joined Duke on his small speed boat to regularly visit the island on multiple volunteer trips that took place over several weekends a month.

This evolved into a larger program after Ken began recruiting volunteers for the project.

The Nature Conservancy provided equipment, the National Park Service provided boat transportation and the U. C. Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz Island Reserve provided housing and pick-up trucks to help facilitate the volunteer work.

Near the end of 2002, Kate Symonds with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service arranged for grant funding for the project.

Duke and Ken initially formed CIR as a partnership, and it was at this time that the Santa Cruz Island project had become a professional operation.

Ken provided volunteer coordination and trip logistics, and Duke contributed his many skills as an arborist and professional contractor.

CIR volunteers on Santa Cruz Island in 2002

Although the program had expanded into regular monthly trips with large volunteer groups and grant funding, CIR was still very much the “Duke and Ken Show,” as some people began calling it.

It would be several years before CIR needed to hire employees, because Duke and Ken could rely on the help of hundreds of volunteers a year.

This made for a very economical operation, and the grant funding that was supposed to pay for twelve trips, lasting just a year, actually paid for almost double that.

In 2005, the first of many school groups began working with CIR on Santa Cruz Island.

That same year, David Chang from the County of Santa Barbara, hired CIR to work on two important invasive plant removal projects.

One was on Santa Rosa Island, where CIR led volunteer groups surveying for, and removing a thistle listed as a “noxious weed” by the State of California.

This multi-year project marked the first time CIR worked outside of Santa Cruz Island.

In later years, CIR led volunteers to plant natives on Santa Rosa and to install fencing around sensitive plants to protect them from grazing by non-native deer and elk.

Recently, CIR has been removing this fencing now that the non-native animals are gone.

We also work in the island nursery, and we continue to plant natives.

With funding arranged by David Chang, CIR began a large project to supervise the removal of giant reed (“

Arundo”

) from three miles of the Carpinteria Creek watershed with the California Conservation Corps.

This was the first time that CIR was hired to work on a mainland project.

In 2007, CIR was hired by the Land Trust of Santa Barbara County to remove

Arundo

from the Refugio Creek watershed.

The following year, CIR hired employees to help with that project, including Kevin Thompson, who later became the CIR Operations Manager.

The Arundo removal at the Carpinteria and Refugio watersheds (plus others that followed) were large-scale projects requiring equipment, paid personnel and expertise.

CIR continued to work with hundreds of volunteers each year, on projects elsewhere, but the Arundo projects were not suited to volunteers.

Oak Grove School volunteering with CIR

on Santa Cruz Island 2006

Also in 2007, CIR began taking volunteer school groups to Anacapa and East Santa Cruz Islands in partnership with the “Once Upon a Watershed” program in Ojai.

The school program (later funded solely by grants raised by CIR) targeted fourth and fifth graders from schools in low income areas.

The funding paid for the cost of bus and boat transportation, plus CIR personnel to lead the trips and to lead the volunteer work.

Most of the kids had never been on a boat, or seen marine mammals or even visited a National Park, and they did all of these things on these school trips.

Since the inception of the CIR school program, 2,137 students, accompanied by 368 adults have worked with CIR on the Channel Islands!

Around the same time, CIR held its first volunteer trip to work with the U.S. Navy on San Nicolas Island.

We took a small volunteer group to the island to remove non-native plants.

In the last two years CIR has built a nursery on the island, grown and installed native plants, and has expanded the invasive plant removal in cooperation with the Navy.

In 2008, David Chang helped CIR raise additional funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for expanded work on Santa Cruz Island.

The grant funded projects in more than twenty locations on the island and included specialized work with endangered plant species.

In 2010, CIR held our first natural history tours.

These trips, which were purely educational in nature and did not include restoration work, were immediately popular and successful.

We started with a trip to Death Valley National Park and then to the White Mountains of eastern California.

Geologist Tanya Atwater and Botanist, Steve Junak have been leading CIR trips to these locations and to other amazing locations ever since.

CIR personnel construct Anacapa Nursery 2010

That same year, CIR partnered with Channel Islands National Park (NPS) on an iceplant eradication project on East Anacapa Island.

CIR worked with the NPS to build a native plant nursery on the Island, with initial funding from the Ventura Patagonia store and from CIR Board members.

Gordon Hart (of the CIR Board) led the construction project with help from other CIR volunteers and NPS staff.

Additional funding (arranged by NPS Restoration Ecologist Sarah Chaney) enabled the nursery to be completed.

The following year, NPS received three years of funding (from highly-competitive NPS restoration project grants) and entered into a Cooperative Agreement with CIR under which CIR provided skilled staff and experienced volunteer leadership in support of

iceplant eradication and restoration of native vegetation on the island.

CIR recruited large numbers of volunteers from the general public, and also worked with established groups of volunteers recruited by NPS from local high schools.

Regular CIR volunteer trips began on Wednesdays, the normal NPS transportation day for Anacapa.

The ongoing work on the iceplant, plus the growing and installing of plants continues.

CIR removing iceplant on San Clemente Island 2011

CIR began working with the U.S. Navy on San Clemente Island in 2011.

On our first trip, twenty volunteers spent five days pulling iceplant from sensitive habitat on the island.

We removed hundreds of patches of iceplant over forty acres, which highly impressed the personnel we were working with from the U.S. Navy and San Diego State University.

Since then, CIR has returned to the island to remove iceplant and other invasive plants.

We remove some of these invasive plants where they are smothering endangered plant species.

CIR staff have also used climbing gear to rappel down steep canyons to remove invasive plants in very remote sections of the island.

We plan to increase our work on San Clemente Island in 2014 and beyond.

Also in 2011, CIR started working on three important invasive removal and planting projects on the mainland.

One was at the San Marcos Foothills Preserve (at two different sites) with funding from the Goleta Valley Land Trust and the San Marcos Foothills Coalition (SMFC).

We planted several thousand native plants at the sites, and we continue to work on this project with our volunteers.

On one workday, more than 150 people from several outdoor companies volunteered at the Preserve for CIR.

Last year we received grants from Patagonia and REI to work in other sections of the Foothills.

Recently CIR has started developing a docent program for the Foothills in partnership with the SMFC.

By Spring we will be training volunteers to lead hikes at the Foothills that will highlight the ecology and history of this important open space.

Before and after views of a portion of the CIR restoration site at the Santa Barbara Zoo:

LEFT: invasives like cape ivy,

Myoporum

and nasturtium block the view of the Andree Clark Bird Refuge

Middle: the same view after the invasives have been removed and soon after native plantings installed

Right: A year after restoration; native plants have matured

Another of the mainland projects CIR started in 2011 was along the Andree Clark Bird Refuge at the Santa Barbara Zoo.

CIR removed many dozens of invasive trees that were crowding out native habitat along the refuge, which is an important bird nesting area.

We also planted several thousand native plants.

This ended up being one our most popular volunteer projects, since it is a beautiful place to work and participants were offered free admission to the Zoo after volunteering.

On one Saturday, over 100 people volunteered!

The third mainland project started in 2011 was along the Santa Clara River near Santa Paula.

Working with BioResource Consultants, CIR removed Arundo from about five acres in breeding habitat for several threatened and endangered species.

We also installed native plants, spread seed and installed a large irrigation system.

CIR has removed Arundo from several locations on the Santa Clara River, but this is the largest site we have worked on there.

In 2012 and 2013, CIR continued work on many of the projects discussed above and on many others.

We held our first large volunteer trip to Catalina Island, and we plan more trips there in the coming years.

In 2014 we look forward to improving our outreach to our many friends who support CIR behind the scenes.

This article is based on a PowerPoint presentation shown to our supporters at a recent “CIR Social” designed to thank those who help CIR financially.

We present it here, so that the many thousands of people who have volunteered for CIR can also appreciate the journey we have all taken together since Duke and Ken started removing invasive trees on Santa Cruz Island, nearly thirteen years ago.

CIR mainland projects, from Orcutt in the north to San Pedro in the south

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CIR School Program Brings 2,300 People to the Islands Since 2004

By Channel Islands Restoration

Students from Carpinteria Family School volunteer 

at the Anacapa Island nursery on a class trip

Channel Islands Restoration has brought 2,055 young people and 248 teachers and chaperones to Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands as part of our school and youth program since its inception in 2004.

CIR raised most of the funding to pay for boat transportation and other costs for these trips, which focused on involving students from underserved areas of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. These trips provided the first opportunity for most of these young people to travel on an ocean-going boat, to directly experience marine wildlife and to visit the Channel Islands.

Funding was provided by a combination of public and private sources, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the California Coastal Commission, Sempra Energy Foundation and Citrix Online.

Students from Sheridan Way Elementary

School (Ventura) on Anacapa Island

CIR worked with 36 schools and youth groups from all over Southern California and beyond.

Participants performed many service tasks including removing invasive plants, collecting seed, growing plants in the Anacapa nursery and care of these plants once they were in the ground.

CIR visited participating schools before each trip to make a presentation on island ecology and conservation biology.

We particularly emphasized the connection between the pollution of mainland streets and watersheds and thereby of the ocean and island environments.

Instruction was curriculum based, reinforcing lessons the students were already learning in the classroom.

Even with fares generously discounted by Island Packers (the official provider of transportation to Anacapa), transportation costs add up quickly.

Boat transportation for an average-size class is $1,500 to $2,000, with additional costs incurred for bus transportation and for CIR staff to organize and lead each trip.

As public sector budgets tighten, CIR is seeking corporate support to help fund these important service-learning programs for local schools.

Fifth graders from Meiners Oaks Elementary volunteer on Santa Cruz Island.

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CIR Leads Twenty Seven School Fieldtrips to the Islands in 2011

By Channel Islands Restoration

Over 930 students and adult chaperones joined CIR on 27 school fieldtrips to the Channel Islands so far this year, with funding raised primarily by our staff and board members.   Most of these students are from low-income districts that cannot afford the costs for this type of fieldtrip, and our program gives cash-strapped schools a chance to visit the Channel Islands and students a chance to participate in important restoration projects.

Our program this year targeted primarily 5

th

grade classes from Ventura County districts, but schools from Los Angeles and Santa Barbara also participated.  The trips were to Anacapa Island and Santa Cruz Island where the students helped CIR with invasive plant removal and helped propagate native plants.  Some of the schools paid the cost of the boat and transportation, but the vast majority benefited from grant funding that CIR staff and board members raised from Federal, State and private sources.

Students from Ventura pose by their handiwork on Anacapa

CIR staff visited most of the schools before the trips to provide comprehensive PowerPoint presentations highlighting the special nature of the Channel Islands and the Marine Sanctuary and background on the restoration projects.  Special effort was made to highlight the connection between mainland watersheds and the health of the marine ecosystem.  This included examples of what happens to storm water runoff and how pollution in city streets can end up in the ocean.  For the 5

th

grade classes, this instruction was specifically designed to address elements in the school curriculum.  As a requirement of some of the grant funding, the students were tested before and after the trip to gauge how much they had learned about the islands, marine sanctuary and conservation issues. 

Holy Cross School students receive instruction on Santa Cruz Island

All of the grant funding targeted low-income school districts, and few of the students had ever visited the Channel Islands or even ever been on a boat before.  The boat and bus transportation, plus modest staff costs for an average size class, cost around $2,400, so a great deal of grant funding is needed to fund so many trips.  Funding for this type of program is highly competitive and the grants are difficult to administer, but the results are more than worth it.  The kids are always eager to help with the restoration project, and they make a valuable contribution to our work. 

This is the fifth year of the CIR school program, and our busiest yet!  CIR staff worked hard to arrange dates with the schools, book the transportation, and organize the complicated paperwork required for a trip of this kind.  These trips would not have been possible without a great deal of logistical support from the Park Service and a discounted rate from Island Packers.  CIR plans to raise additional funding from private sources for the 2012 school year.

Schools/youth groups participating in CIR island trips:

Caesar Chavez Elementary, Oxnard (6 trips)

EP Foster Elementary, Ventura (2 trips)

Holly Cross School, Ventura (2 trips)

Meiners Oaks  Elementary, Meiners Oaks (3 trips)

Mira Monte Elementary, Ojai (1 trip)

Oak Grove School, Ojai (1 trip)

San Antonio School, Ojai (1 trip)

Santa Barbara Charter School, Santa Barbara (1 trip)

Sheridan Way Elementary, Ventura (1 trip)

Sun Valley High School, Los Angeles (1 trip)

Sunset Elementary, Oak View (3 trips)

Topa Topa Elementary, Ojai (2 trips)

Unitarian Society Teen Group, Santa Barbara (1 trip)

Ventura Charter School, Ventura (2 trips)

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This Week in CIR

By Channel Islands Restoration

Things typically slow down a bit for CIR in midsummer.  Weed growth slows and planting time at our restoration sites finishes, but several projects still keep us busy:

We continue to make trips to Anacapa Island at least twice a month with volunteers from our email list and with support from corporate partners like Citrix Online.  Check out our Anacapa blog for details:

http://anacaparestoration.blogspot.com

We started a new project at the Conejo open space near Thousand Oaks.  They have a great volunteer program, and they asked CIR to help with some specialty weed eradication and we also recruited some of our volunteers to help.  We should announce some other volunteer days in the near future.

CIR also began a project at More Mesa in Goleta, as part of the replacement of the large staircase from the mesa top to the beach.  The County of Santa Barbara required that the invasive iceplant and Myoporum trees at the site be replaced by natives, and CIR has been hired to assist with this aspect of the project.

Rein Teen Tours joined us at our San Marcos Foothills and Lake Los Carneros projects last week.  Rein is a tour group, consisting of mostly high school aged kids from the East Coast.  They spend several weeks in California doing many activities, including service work for non-profits.  This is the fourth year CIR has worked with them.

Work continues at the San Marcos Foothills sites.  Although planting is finished for this season, we continue to irrigate our native plantings.  Weeds tend to sprout up where we apply water, so we will still be calling on volunteers for help providing love and care to the great native plants now growing in what used to be weed patches!  Watch your email for announcements about volunteer days.  Starting around November, we will do a second round of planting at both sites in the Foothills.

For more information about this projects or to learn about volunteering, please contact:

volunteer@cirweb.org

More than 25 people came to our presentation on the White Mountains in Ventura earlier this week.  Dr. Tanya Atwater provided a super PowerPoint on the plate tectonic history of Southern California and the geology of the White Mountains.  Ken Owen showed a presentation on "ecological islands" (ecosystems surrounded by unlike ecosystems) like high mountains surrounded by desert.  Twenty eight people have signed up for our White Mountains trip that will start on Thursday.

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Busy Spring for CIR

By Channel Islands Restoration

Channel Islands Restoration has been kept very busy this spring:

MAINLAND PROJECTS:

We are working with our project partners on two restoration sites on the San Marcos Foothills with funding from the Goleta Valley Land Trust.  We've plant several thousand plants at both locations and made war on some very tenacious invasive weeds.  To see some details on both of the projects (including lots of photos) check out the following links:

San Marcos Foothills Atascadero Creek Restoration Project

San Marcos Foothills Cieneguitas Creek Restoration Project

We finished up the iceplant removal project at Carpinteria State Beach, in partnership with South Coast Habitat Restoration and the Southern California Wetland Recovery Project.  We "solarized" the iceplant (killed it without the use of herbicide) and planting nearly 3000 native plants.  If you have not visited this site at the Mouth of Carpinteria Creek, we highly recommend that you check it out!  For more information including some photos detailing our work, follow this link:

Carpinteria State Beach Iceplant Removal and Native Species Re-vegetation

Our project at the Santa Barbara Zoo along the Andree Clark Bird Refuge has been a wonderful success!  This project is also funded by the Southern California Wetland Recovery Project, and it has involved removing Myoporum trees (and other invasives) and planting of several hundred natives.  We put up some amazing "before and after" photos on our web page which you can check out at this link:

Andree Clark Bird Refuge/ SB Zoo Invasive Plant Eradication and Re-vegetation

CIR continues to work on a major dune restoration project along Harbor Blvd. in Oxnard.  We are working with Arcadis US. on the North Shore/McGrath project, which is large is scope.  We control invasives at the site and have helped install plantings.  We have posted photos of the project here:

McGrath/North Shore Dune and Wetland Restoration

CIR has partnered with Bio Resource Consultants to restore 3.25 acres of habitat, including approximately 2 acres of giant reed (

Arundo donax)

and 1.25 acres of disturbed southern willow scrub on the Santa Clara River near Santa Paula.  The goal of the project is to create and restore/enhance riparian habitat to increase wildlife diversity, including creation and/or enhancement of southwestern pond turtle habitat.  This project is meant to mitigate impacts of the City's new waste water treatment facility.   Work began in late spring of 2011.

CHANNEL ISLANDS PROJECTS:

On the islands, CIR took nine elementary school classes to Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands to learn about conservation ecology and to help with invasive plant removal.  We did this with funding from several grant sources and we plan some more trips this fall.  Holy Cross School in Ventura contracted with us to take them on a four day volunteer trip to the Nature Conservancy side of Santa Cruz Island.

We led several volunteer trips for adults to Anacapa Island as part of a program we have with Channel Islands National Park to restore the native plant communities of that island.  The island nursery is now up and running, and volunteers are now helping to grow plants for the project.  Check out some photos of this project here:

East Anacapa Island Restoration Project

CIR is helping the U.S. Navy in a program to eradicate Sahara Mustard on San Nicolas Island.  We would love to provide volunteer trips there in the future, and also to San Clemente island, perhaps as early as this fall.  Stay tuned!!

Some photos of recent trips to San Nicolas and San Clemente can be found here:

http://picasaweb.google.com/cirlogin

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