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San Nicolas Island

Restoration on San Nicolas Island

Restoration on San Nicolas Island

By Tanner Yould

We are currently growing and maintaining nearly 13,000 native and endemic island plants as part of our current restoration project. These plants were grown from seed and cuttings collected exclusively from the island under the watchful eyes of our Nursery Manager, Kelle Green and Nursery Assistant, Sarah Spellenberg. It has taken the dedication of thousands of staff and volunteer hours to successfully propagate, grow and maintain such a large number of plants at an isolated island nursery 60 miles off shore.

Propagation & Restoration on San Nicolas Island

Propagation & Restoration on San Nicolas Island

By Tanner Yould

Channel Islands Restoration is currently leading the largest-ever restoration on San Nicolas Island. With the help of volunteers that have put in well over ten thousand hours over the years, we’ve grown and planted more than 30,000 plants to restore critical habitat throughout the island.

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CIR Growing More than 11,000 Plants on San Nicolas Island

By Channel Islands Restoration

In the past few months, CIR volunteers have been hard at work on San Nicolas Island and have installed more than 12,000 plants. After removing patches of invasive ice plant, the volunteers installed and have been maintaining native plants to stabilize sand dunes on San Nicolas Island with resounding success. Plants were grown in our San Nicolas Island Nursery built last year. We also have been working to restore upland habitat for the threatened island night lizard and are currently in the process of growing additional plants for this project in our San Nicolas Island plant nursery that we will install in the coming months.

We are incredibly proud of the plants that we have been able to produce from the nursery, especially a newly discovered plant, just last year, Lycium brevipes 'desert box thorn'. It was thought that this particular species was long extinct on San Nicolas Island. We were able to collect cuttings last fall from a population on 10 plants. These cuttings were propagated and planted in the landscape around the nursery. The plants were placed on a drip system. This planting has been so successful that we have been able to collect more cuttings from these plants and start an additional 400 new little clones. These new plants will be planted out this coming fall/winter creating more habitat for island critters such as the endemic night lizard.

Besides box thorn we are growing cactus, buckwheat, mule fat, morning glory and a whole palate of native bunch grasses. We are very glad we are afforded the opportunity to be part of the habitat restoration for San Nicolas.

Recently we have improved the nursery with fantastic flood tables, capable of propagating plants with high water demands - like those near marshes or in riparian habitat - with very little water waste. Each table has its own dedicated waterline and can be manually watered or set on a timer. This is all possible because of great, dedicated volunteers.

Trips to San Nicolas Island fill incredibly quickly and spots are coveted. Because of the demanding and high priority nature of our work with the US Navy on San Nicolas Island, CIR mostly seeks volunteers that we have worked with in the past on this or other projects, so that we can work with teams of known quality during our short trips to the island.

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Upcoming Volunteer Trips to San Nicolas Island

By Channel Islands Restoration

CIR volunteers maintaining the native plantings

that were installed early this year.

CIR, in partnership with the U.S. Navy, has two upcoming multi-day planting trips to San Nicolas Island in January 2016.

CIR will be recruiting a select number of volunteers for the chance to visit the most remote of the Channel Islands, and the hardest for civilians to visit!

The goals for the two restoration trips will be to install 1,000 native plants (which includes two dune species) and replenish the island with native and island-endemic vegetation.

CIR collected seeds on-island and grew the plants in the island nursery that was rebuilt by CIR staff and volunteers in 2012.

CIR nursery manager Kelle Green and volunteers has been tending the native plants in the nursery, and they are almost ready to be planted.

One of the dune species is Beach spectaclepod (

Dithyrea maritima

) a California rare and threatened species. 

Plants growing at the San Nicolas Island nursery including

needle grass, box thorn, and cactus.

Volunteers fly out of Point Mugu Naval Air Station to the island where they will stay in motel housing while working on this important restoration project.

Each volunteer will pay for their own single-occupancy room ($68 per night). Because of holiday flight schedules, the trips are

five and six days in length.

This allows more time for volunteers to enjoy an extraordinary experience and beautiful island views.

CIR staff and volunteers will be kept very busy planting and caring for these precious island plants in the coming months.

Watch for the upcoming volunteer announcements!

Upcoming Volunteer Planting Trips:

Thursday, January 14 – Tuesday, January 19

&

Friday, January 22 – Tuesday, January 26

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San Nicolas Island: Planting Thorny Natives

By Channel Islands Restoration

To date, Channel Islands Restoration has installed 2600 nursery-grown native plants on San Nicolas Island with several thousand more to go! Starting in December, our first volunteer planting crew put in plants that would augment habitat for the Island Night Lizard. This species 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 the habitat of the lizard by planting species the lizard is known to favor. This includes California box thorn and two species of native cactus. In the wild, these thorny plants grow in impenetrable thickets that protect lizards from predators. The plantings have also been designed to help control erosion. 

Volunteers wore heavy leather gloves and handled these thorny species mindfully, using hand tools such as tongs to gently position the cactus. CIR propagated these native plants from seed in the island nursery that was rebuilt by CIR staff and volunteers in 2012. Our latest round of plant propagation was performed under contract with the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden and a Navy contractor. 

CIR nursery manager Sheri Mayta and our dedicated SNI field team of volunteers including: Carol Gravelle, Doreen Jones, and Dennis Kulzer have been tending the nursery and watching over the plants as they matured. Now that they are being planted in lizard habitat, our field team has expanded to include Kelle Green and Jon Huber, and will help to keep them watered and weeded as they become established. CIR staff and volunteers will be kept busy planting and caring for these precious island plants in the coming months. Watch for upcoming volunteer announcements!

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CIR Expands Work on San Nicolas Island

By Channel Islands Restoration

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

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CIR Removes Invasive Sahara Mustard on San Nicolas Island

By Channel Islands Restoration

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.

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CIR Builds Nursery on San Nicolas Island, grows 1,100 Plants

By Channel Islands Restoration

1,100 plants have been grown at the nursery on

San Nicolas Island so far

Channel Islands Restoration staff and volunteers teamed up with the United States Navy in April on San Nicholas Island to completely rebuild and expand an old native plant nursery.

More than 1,100 plants have been grown so far, and CIR staff and volunteers recently planted most of these at a restoration site on the island.

The nursery, which consisted of a shed and small planting benches, had fallen into disrepair over nearly two decades.

CIR built new benches, erected a shade structure and installed an irrigation system.

The three benches (each forty feet long and six feet wide) include custom designed “biosecurity” measures that prevent introduced pests like Argentine ants from infesting the plant pots.

The nursery shed required major cleaning, and it will soon receive repairs to its roof and doors.

Funding to build the new nursery and to grow the plants has been provided by the Navy.

The nursery has an automated irrigation system, so CIR staff only needs to visit the island approximately once per week. 

The plants were installed at a restoration site on the eastern side of the island to help prevent erosion along roadside dune habitat.

More plants will be grown in the nursery to revegetate sites impacted by upcoming construction projects on the island.

CIR Board Member Gordon Hart designed the nursery and led the construction project along with volunteers Dave Edwards (also a Board Member) Don Mills and John Reyes.

The plants were grown by Norma Hogan, who recently joined the CIR team.

CIR built the nursery in partnership with the Navy,

and most of these plants have been installed at a restoration site on the island.

CIR has been working on the island for several years eradicating Sahara mustard from habitat of the threatened

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.

It has spread quickly on San Nicolas Island, and the Navy staff is committed to eradicating it from the island.

CIR has donated the staff time on this project for several years, but the Navy has recently contracted with CIR to perform this service.

Our staff and volunteers are trusted to work around these sensitive plants and around protected archeological sites.

CIR greatly values our relationship with Naval Base Ventura County and the U.S. Navy as a whole.

CIR Board member Gordon Hart

builds benches in the new nursery constructed by CIR on San Nicolas Island

shade structure under construction

CIR staff and volunteers plant natives at the Thousand Springs restoration site on the north east end of San Nicolas Island.

volunteer John Reyes (left) and CIR nursery manager Norma Hogan (right) in front of the completed shade structure

CIR volunteers plant natives at the Thousand Springs restoration site on the north east end of San Nicolas Island.

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CIR Builds Nursery on San Nicolas Island, grows 1100 Plants

By Channel Islands Restoration



Channel Islands Restoration staff and volunteers teamed up with the United States Navy in April on San Nicholas Island to completely rebuild and expand an old native plant nursery.  More than 1,100 plants have been grown so far, and CIR staff and volunteers recently planted most of these at a restoration site on the island.

The nursery, which consisted of a shed and small planting benches, had fallen into disrepair over nearly two decades.  CIR built new benches, erected a shade structure and installed an irrigation system.  The three benches (each forty feet long and six feet wide) include custom designed “biosecurity” measures that prevent introduced pests like Argentine ants from infesting the plant pots.  The nursery shed required major cleaning, and it will soon receive repairs to its roof and doors.  Funding to build the new nursery and to grow the plants has been provided by the Navy.  The nursery has an automated irrigation system, so CIR staff only needs to visit the island approximately once per week. 


The plants were installed at a restoration site on the eastern side of the island to help prevent erosion along roadside dune habitat.  More plants will be grown in the nursery to revegetate sites impacted by upcoming construction projects on the island.   CIR Board Member Gordon Hart designed the nursery and led the construction project along with volunteers Dave Edwards (also a Board Member) Don Mills and John Reyes.  The plants were grown by Norma Hogan, who recently joined the CIR team.

CIR has been working on the island for several years eradicating Sahara mustard from habitat of the threatened 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.  It has spread quickly on San Nicolas Island, and the Navy staff is committed to eradicating it from the island.  CIR has donated the staff time on this project for several years, but the Navy has recently contracted with CIR to perform this service.  Our staff and volunteers are trusted to work around these sensitive plants and around protected archeological sites.  CIR greatly values our relationship with Naval Base Ventura County and the U.S. Navy as a whole. 


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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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