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Habitat Restoration

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Camarillo Plant Nursery Off to a Great Start!

Kelle Green, CIR Nursery Manager, takes great care of native

plants on a bright and sunny day at the nursery.

Since its construction in November last year, CIR's new native plant nursery in Camarillo has been filled with volunteers and growing native plants! We have had over 100 volunteers so far donate their time and help kick-start operations at the nursery in preparation for our new mainland restoration project at Point Mugu Naval Air Station (Pt. Mugu NAS). Once the nursery was built, CIR staff and volunteers collected seeds from Mugu Lagoon to grow in the nursery, and then the propagating, transplanting, and potting and re-potting of wetland plants began full-force! Volunteer tasks vary greatly, from delicate work with tiny seedlings to watering and maintaining native plants.

A great group of warrior volunteers stuck it out through a

recent rainstorm, all with smiles on their faces!

Starting in April and May this year, we will be installing up to 5,000 native wetland plants that were grown in the nursery in buffer areas between roads and wetlands at Pt. Mugu NAS. These efforts will help provide habitat for native animals and provide soil stabilization, which will help protect the wetlands from erosion. This is our third project with the U.S. Navy, and those who volunteer at our nursery will get experience with wetland plants and will be considered first to get Base Access passes to volunteer at the restoration site in Pt. Mugu!

CIR has several opportunities to volunteer in the plant nursery in March, and you can check out the scheduled dates and sign up to volunteer on our

Calendar of Volunteer Events

webpage.

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CIR Stewardship of the San Marcos Foothills

Volunteers pose at the San Marcos Foothills Preserve

following a day of invasive plant removal near

a natural freshwater spring.

In addition to maintaining our current restoration projects and planning new ones for the years ahead, CIR adopted a more active stewardship role for the San Marcos Foothills Preserve. In 2015, we now provide educational programs and have produced materials that educate visitors about protecting wildlife while we all enjoy the 210-acre Preserve, located between Santa Barbara and Goleta.

This year CIR organized three educational walks at the Preserve, including two bird watching events with biologist Mark Holmgren and a plant walk with Ken Owen.

All of these events were popular and were attended by nearly 60 people.

CIR also created a web guide to the Preserve that highlights the plant and animal life, geology and history and more.

We continue to develop a docent program for the Preserve, which will train volunteers to lead educational walks.

Biologist Mark Holmgren leads a CIR bird

watching walk at the Preserve.

As CIR takes on new responsibilities at the Preserve, we’re mindful of our previous successes there.

Since 2010, CIR has partnered with several non-profit organizations, businesses and County government to restore portions of the Preserve.

Our restoration sites along Cieneguitas and Atascadero Creeks have been spectacular successes.

Even during this dry year, in the middle of the worst drought in history, many of our plants continue to bloom well into autumn.

The sites attract butterflies that feed on nectar from the flowers, and they attract birds that collect seeds and insects from the plants.

In a generally dry and brown landscape, our restoration sites are some of the only green spots in the Foothills.

The success of the restoration sites is due to our dedicated staff and the help of more than 1,000 people who have volunteered with CIR at the San Marcos Foothills since we began our work.

Common buckeye butterfly collecting nectar on California

buckwheat plants installed by Channel Islands

Restoration at the San Marcos Foothills

Preserve.

Thanks to a grant from outdoor retailer REI this year, CIR also removed invasive plants along trails and at a freshwater spring, where several species of wetland plants grow.

The REI grant paid for the cost of a staff person to lead the 16 volunteer days and for the cost of recruiting the 278 volunteers who participated.

Thanks to REI and to the Volunteers!

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REI Funds Restoration Trips to Anacapa Island

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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Upcoming Volunteer Trips to San Nicolas Island

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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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 rep

lace 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.

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CIR Constructs Native Plant Nursery in Camarillo

CIR is proud to announce that we have completed construction of a nursery in Camarillo that will be used to grow plants for our mainland r

estoration projects, including the project at Point Mugu Naval Air Station.

This is the third native plant nursery CIR has constructed (the other two are on Anacapa and San Nicolas islands).

The new facility is located at the home of Kelle Green, who manages the nursery on San Nicolas Island for CIR.

The nursery consists of a shade house that is 42 feet long by 20 feet wide.

Inside there are two 32 foot long benches that are about six feet in width.

Water is delivered to the plants by an overhead misting system through 16 individually controlled sections on automated timers.

Outside there are four 16 by 6 foot tables where plants will be held after they have matured to harden them off prior to planting.

We have also constructed holding pods used for growing wetland plants.

The ponds are excavated into the ground, lined with pond liner and surrounded by cider blocks and gravel.

The nursery is built to the highest standards and is designed to prevent the plants from being infested with invasive species that are common in the nursery industry.

The total construction cost for the facility was just under $6,000.

Volunteers pose in front of a holding pond

at the Camarillo nursery.

This nursery was the brainchild of Kelle Green (volunteer extraordinaire for Channel Islands National Park and the CIR San Nicolas Island plant propagation guru).

Having worked in the other nurseries constructed by CIR, Kelle dreamed of having access to a similar facility in (literally) her own backyard.

About the same time, CIR was chosen to work on a restoration project at Point Mugu Naval Air Station, which included supplying 5,000 plants.

CIR staff and our Board of Directors decided the time was right for us to construct our first mainland nursery to grow the plants for Mugu and for other restoration projects on the mainland.

In addition to the plants for Point Mugu, CIR is currently growing plants for the San Marcos Foothills, and we are welcoming proposals to grow plants for other restoration projects.

Volunteers install shade cloth and build hardening 

tables at the new CIR Camarillo nursery.

Most of the funding for the construction cost was made possible by a generous gift from a CIR donor.

Several volunteers contributed their time to construct the facility.

Dave Edwards and Gordon Hart (both CIR Board members) plus John Reyes were again our lead construction team, spending many hours in the hot autumn sun working on the project.

These three were also instrumental in the construction of the other CIR nurseries.

Also, Barry Dydyk, Bob Nicholas, Dr. Dave Perlmutter and Kelle Green all spent many hours working on the project.

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New Wetland Restoration Project Starts at Point Mugu Naval Air Station

View of the spectacular wetlands of Mugu Lagoon 

in Point Mugu Naval Air Station

.

CIR is excited to announce a new project with the U.S. Navy, this time it will be on the mainland!

CIR is currently growing plants for a restoration project at Point Mugu Naval Air Station.

We will install up to 5,000 native plants in buffer areas between roads and wetlands.

This will provide habitat for native animals and will provide soil stabilization, which will help protect the wetlands from erosion.

CIR will work in partnership with Naval Base Ventura County and Tetra Tech, Inc. on this project.

The plants will come from seed collected at the Mugu Lagoon, and most will be grown at the new CIR nursery in Camarillo.

This is the third project CIR has with the U.S. Navy, the other two being our restoration work on San Nicolas Island and our invasive plant removal projects on San Clemente Island. Volunteers will have many opportunities to participate in this project, including helping grow the plants over the next several months and installing them in the spring.

Kelle Green, CIR Nursery Manager, and CIR volunteer, 

Helen Fitting, transplanting wetland plants to be later

installed at Point Mugu in 2016.

Mugu Lagoon is Ventura County’s largest wetland and wildlife sanctuary and provides habitat for more than 250 bird species, as well as many species of migratory birds.

The lagoon is also one of the few breeding grounds in the county for harbor seals and other pinnipeds.

Stewardship of the lagoon is a high priority for the U.S. Navy, who has protected the area for nearly 70 years.

Many rare wetland species are found at the Mugu wetlands, and many plant species reach their northern or southern limits at the Lagoon.

Access to the base is extremely restricted, and this project will present a special opportunity for volunteers to visit the area, which is closed to the general public.

In fact, CIR will need to apply for navy passes for participants to gain access onto the base and the restoration site.

However, no passes are needed to help us grow the plants at our new Camarillo nursery!

CIR is grateful to our partners in the Navy and at Tetra Tech for this opportunity to help restore the Mugu Lagoon ecosystem.

We look forward to working

with our partners and our volunteers!

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Wrap-Up at Mission Canyon: Achievements

Volunteer removes a mature Euphorbia plant.

Since January, CIR has been involved in a mainland restoration project at Mission Canyon in Santa Barbara to help eradicate a growing population of an extremely invasive plant, Carnation Spurge (Euphorbia terracina).

This plant was recently discovered spreading through this residential area, down the road from the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens, and its proliferation has exploded with the late winter rains.

With grant funding from the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the County of Santa Barbara partnered with CIR to stop Carnation Spurge in its tracks and to keep it from spreading even further.

CIR held four volunteer events at Mission Canyon with CIR staff, 64 volunteers, and 4 CIR Board Members who helped to remove this non-native plant species before the next season of rainfall.

Much of the work was accomplished by basic hand removal and solarization (placing black plastic over the plants depriving them of light).

This project could not have been completed without the hard work and dedication of our volunteers!

We thank the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden for their support on this project by providing free admission at the end of the volunteer event to those who participated to help control this invasive plant population.

We also thank the Mission Canyon Association for all their support throughout this restoration project.

The California Invasive Plant Council is exploring possible future funding options to continue the efforts being made to purge this Spurge.

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CIR to Offer Fall Trips to Santa Rosa Island

CIR staff and volunteers remove iceplant on Santa Rosa Island.

CIR is excited to offer a series of restoration trips to Santa Rosa Island this fall, in partnership with Channel Islands National Park.

Supported by Channel Islands National Park, these 4- and 5-day trips are designed to accomplish important environmental restoration projects, while giving volunteers the opportunity to experience some of the most beautiful and remote sections of that vast island.

Volunteers will help restore the unique “Cloud Forest” habitat on Santa Rosa Island.

“Cloud Forest” refers to the ability of the rare island oak trees and other vegetation that collect fog on their branches and leaves and naturally provide water for the island and its wildlife and ecosystem.

A long history of grazing and browsing on the high ridges of the island stripped away vegetation and caused deep soil erosion.

This project will start to restore these ridges, and therefore all of the island, by slowing erosion and replacing the lost fog-water-harvesting vegetation.

Volunteers learn about island conservation, history, geology and ecology while helping to restore Santa Rosa’s unique island habitat.

The volunteer work adds to the enjoyment and understanding of the challenges involved with managing such a large island.

CIR’s Santa Rosa trips are structured to provide plenty of satisfying volunteer work, yet also include time to enjoy this vast and spectacular island.

Volunteers will stay in indoor lodging at the Santa Rosa Island Field Station, operated by CSU Channel Islands.

Watch for email announcements regarding trips this fall!

Sarah Chaney (NPS ecologist) directs CIR volunteers.

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San Marcos Foothills Preserve Keeping CIR Busy!

Plantings at Cieneguitas Creek.

Since 2010, in partnership with the San Marcos Foothills Coalition and the County of Santa Barbara, CIR has been proud to work on several restoration projects at the 200-acre San Marcos Foothills Preserve in Santa Barbara, one of the most ecologically significant open public spaces in the county.

The Preserve is located in the foothills between Santa Barbara and Goleta, and is a County open space.

Funding in recent years for these projects was provided by REI and the San Marcos Foothills Coalition.

These projects were designed to improve the native plant communities that provide resources to the native animal species, as well as enhance the public experience along trails.

Volunteers at the Spring near the Antone Road entrance.

In the last six months at the Preserve, CIR has held 12 volunteer events and over 250 volunteers have donated their time and energy on this public trail enhancement project.

CIR staff, board members, and volunteers have removed several invasive plant species at the Spring, a natural fresh water source, and at restoration sites along Atascadero and Cieneguitas Creeks.

Over 50 native Purple Needlegrass plants have also been planted by CIR and volunteers by the Preserve trailhead at Via Gaitero Road.

Four UC Santa Barbara organizations: Alpha Phi Omega Psi Chapter, Wildlife Society, Naked Voices, and the Hermanas Unidas brought groups of energetic and diligent students to battle these non-native plants.

Groups from Stanford Alumni, the SB Rotaract Club, San Marcos High School AAPLE Program, and SB School of Squash have also joined in restoring this beautiful Preserve.

REI provided free REI Stewardship 2015 t-shirts and REI store coupons to volunteers who participated in these habitat restoration events.

In the near future, we will be spreading mulch in preparation for winter rains.

Lupinus succulentus (Arroyo lupine) at the Preserve.

CIR has also held 3 educational tours since January.

Biologist Mark Holmgren led two bird walks in January and February of 2015, and gave participants an opportunity to view resident and migratory birds and other wildlife, and how they use the land we are working to preserve.

CIR’s Executive Director Ken Owen led a plant walk in March of 2015, and participants experienced the many plant species of California native wildflowers in bloom.

Wayne Ferren, CIR’s Principal Ecologist, also led a walk for the California Naturalist program in November of 2014.

These fun educational tours were offered free as a part of a developing docent program, and CIR hopes to offer more educational walks in the future!

Upcoming volunteer opportunities at the San Marcos Foothills

Preserve from 9AM—12:30PM:

Saturday, August 22

&

Saturday, September 26

Volunteers pose at the Via Gaitero Road entrance.

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CIR Sponsors Santa Cruz Island School Trips

You may think Santa Barbara Cleveland School’s mascot is the Dolphins, but for a couple of days in early May they became the Cleveland Clippers. That’s because each sixth grade class spent a day on Santa Cruz Island clipping the heads off of thousands of non-native oyster plants (Tragopogon porrifolius).

This invasive plant is native to Europe and known for its edible roots that taste like oysters.

However, in the U.S., like most invasive plants, the oyster plant has aggressively spread, smothering out native plants along the way, and has established itself as a roadside weed in nearly every state.

For most students, it was their first trip to the islands and their first boat ride ever. Dolphin, whale, and island fox sightings awed the students, as did the view at our Cavern Point picnic site. Eventually we found our way to the project site beyond the upper campground. There we spread out to locate non-native plants in various stages of bud, flower, and seed. Each student used safety scissors to clip off and carefully bag the heads. Most found the task to be pleasant, aside from dealing with the burrs of Ripgut grass, another invasive plant species, that nestled into their socks. After a couple of hours of hard work, we admired the huge pile of filled black plastic bags. Then, covered with white sap and burrs, we hauled them back to the mouth of Scorpion Canyon. We spent an hour or so to visit the Visitor’s Center and relax at the beach before the arrival of the return boat.

The trips were a culmination of work by CIR board member Cindy Kimmick with sixth graders and their teachers, Sam Adams and Kevin Sullivan. Since Fall, Cindy, with the help of other CIR board members, provided the students with natural science lessons in topics including GPS mapping and the near decimation of the island foxes and made the learning process interesting for the students.

CIR was able to offer the trip free of charge using grants from the Men’s Garden Club of Santa Barbara, the Bentson Foundation, and Susan Shields. The funding covered the cost of the boat and the bus, plus the cost of our staff to organize and lead the trips.

A total of 55 students attended the trips, and five volunteer Work Leaders, in partnership with the Channel Islands National Park Service, also assisted the CIR staff with the trip, including Ron Nichols, Randy Bowin and Dennis Kulzer, plus CIR Board members Cindy Kimmick and Karen Telleen-Lawton.

Cleveland School was chosen because it is an underserved school with enthusiastic and environmentally-aware sixth grade teachers that is also the focus of outreach projects for one board member’s parish, All Saints-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church.

The highlight for many was the knowledge that thousands of bagged seeds will prevent millions of new plants: an invasion literally nipped in the bud. But likely most would name an additional favorite: watching hundreds of dolphins approach the boat and surf our wake. It was an enthralling show seemingly just for the graduating Cleveland Dolphins. 

CIR thanks the Cleveland School, their teachers, Kevin Sullivan and Sam Adams, and their wonderful students for helping with this important restoration project on Santa Cruz Island! —

Karen Telleen-Lawton.

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San Nicolas Island: Planting Thorny Natives

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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Next Phase of Restoration at the SB Zoo

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Next Phase of Restoration at the SB Zoo

CIR and the Santa Barbara Zoo have just begun the second phase of habitat restoration along the bird refuge at the Zoo, and volunteers will have plenty of opportunities to participate, starting this month!

A CIR crew removes invasive Myoporum trees at the Santa Barbara Zoo

The 42 acre Andree Clark Bird Refuge is one of Santa Barbara's most beautiful natural areas and provides habitat to 228 bird species, 43 of which nest there. It adjoins the 30 acre Santa Barbara Zoo, an organization that, like CIR, is dedicated to restoration and enhancement of native habitat.

In 2010, CIR was given a grant in partnership with the SB Zoo to restore the 2.1 acre margin between the Refuge and the Zoo that was, until recently, covered by a mix of ever-encroaching invasive plants and a few remaining natives. The Wetland Margin Enhancement Project was designed into two phases to remediate this situation, and both phases involved removal of Myoporum trees and many other invasive plants.  In 2011 and 2012, Phase I of this restoration project exceeded its goals and successfully treated approximately one-third of the shoreline along the Zoo, replacing invasives with native flora.

Phase I started in 2010, funded by a grant from the Southern California Wetland Recovery Project (SCWRP). The City of Santa Barbara removed invasive Arundo along the Zoo property during Phase I. CIR and Zoo staff and volunteers restored a total of 0.74 acres; 44 invasive trees were removed and 930 native plants (114 of those being trees) were installed. Over a span of 12 volunteer events, we had 365 volunteers help with this project, contributing a total of 1,460 volunteer hours. More than 100 volunteers showed up at the first volunteer day!  In addition to volunteers from CIR and the Zoo, volunteers from Citrix Online, the United Way Day of Caring, and Ojai Valley School participated.

A section of the wetland margin after restoration.

This year, Phase II of the project started with a second grant from SCWRP and one from the County of Santa Barbara's Coastal Resource Enhancement Fund (CREF).  The CREF grant is paid for from funds that mitigate the impacts from the Point Arguello, Point Pedernales, and Santa Ynez Unit offshore oil and gas projects. In Phase II, CIR is focusing on treating the remaining acres of the site, which contained dense stands of Myoporum trees, a number of Eucalyptus and small palms, plus smaller amounts of other invasive plants. A CIR crew spent three days felling 220 trees from within the project area in September. With help from Zoo staff we spent two additional days hauling and chipping the trees. The piled chips will be used for mulching during the upcoming plant installation scheduled to take place during the next few months.

CIR and the Zoo are contributing time and manpower to the project, but most of the work is done by community volunteers.  We will plant 1,300 native plants starting in November. At the end of each work day, participating volunteers can then visit the Zoo free of admission. Watch for e-mail announcements regarding planting days, as CIR will soon be offering a series of volunteer opportunities at the Zoo!

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CIR Receives Grants for Youth Program

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CIR Receives Grants for Youth Program

The CIR youth program provides kids from low-income school districts with trips to Channel Islands National Park, during which they learn about conservation and island ecology, and participate in a habitat restoration stewardship project.

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CIR & volunteers donate to Santa Rosa Island Projects

CIR & volunteers donate to Santa Rosa Island Projects

CIR volunteers remove fennel (Foeniculum vulgare).

Fennel, which has taken over large areas on

Santa Cruz Island, is fortunately not common

on Santa Rosa Island.

It is a priority of the

NPS to keep it from spreading.

Channel Islands Restoration continued working on Santa Rosa Island this year, in a project funded mostly by CIR donors and our volunteers with support from the National Park Service (NPS).

We held four trips in 2013 to remove fencing, plant natives, remove invasives and to work in the native plant nursery.

The fencing had been erected to protect sensitive plants and habitats from browsing and trampling by non-native grazing animals.

Since these animals are no longer on the island, the fencing is now an unnecessary eyesore and a potential hazard to visitors and native animals, so it is now a priority to remove it.

Often located in remote areas difficult to access, the fencing can be a challenge to remove.

Volunteers also removed invasive fennel and iceplant in several island locations and planted island-grown

Dudleya

(a native succulent) at China Camp on the island’s southwest side.

Although volunteers put in long hours, they also had the opportunity to visit parts of the island that are not easily accessible.

Although removing the fencing and the restoration work are priorities for the NPS, budgets are tight, so there is no funding to pay for these projects.

Working with NPS Restoration Ecologist Sarah Chaney,

CIR volunteers work in the native plant

nursery on Santa Rosa Island.

CIR developed a program where volunteers paid for a portion ofthe needed funding, CIR paid for the rest, and the NPS provided staff support, on-island transportation and camp sites.

While CIR spent more than $5,000 on the four trips, this project would not have happened without the generous support of volunteers and CIR donors.

Volunteers camped at the NPS campground at Water Canyon, and on one occasion, stayed at the bunkhouse that housed island ranch hands when the island was privately owned.

The bunkhouse is now part of a new research station run by California State University Channel Islands, and CIR is grateful that we received special permission to stay there.

CIR volunteers use special jacks to remove fence posts at East Point.

Volunteers also remove invasive iceplant at East Point.

CIR volunteers plant natives at China Cap on Santa Rosa Island

NPS Restoration Ecologist Sarah Chaney shows volunteers the work location near Carrington Point.

Volunteers removed fencing at the work site, which was located several hundred feet below the pictured location.

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CIR Restoration Work on San Clemente Island Takes Root

CIR Restoration Work on San Clemente Island Takes Root

By Jodi Simpson

CIR staff Kevin Thompson remove fennel from

remote canyons on San Clemente Island.

Channel Islands Restoration is extremely gratified by the results of work begun

three

years ago on San Clemente Island. Working with both the Navy and San Diego State University’s Soil Ecology and Restoration Group (SERG), volunteers and staff from CIR traveled

three

times since October 2012 to San Clemente Island to continue hand-removal of several pernicious non-native plants. CIR not only removed iceplant from approximately 55 acres of sensitive habitat, but also removed fennel (

Foeniculum vulgare

) from several remote cactus-covered canyons and watershed areas.

The fennel removal is a particularly tricky but exciting aspect of our work on San Clemente.

CIR staff used ropes and specialized climbing gear to

rappel down cliffs into canyons that were as much as 100 feet deep.

The plants were located, then eradicated, and any seeds were bagged and

CIR staff Kevin Thompson and Aaron

Echols uses climbing gear and great skill

to remove fennel from remote

canyons on San Clemente Island.

removed from the canyons.

Volunteers also worked with SERG staff to locate fennel plants in more accessible areas, where staff removed them.

With the removal of these non-native plants has come a wonderful re-emergence of multiple island endemic and endangered plant species, those previously crowded out by the exotics. With iceplant on its way out, we now see native species such as boxthorn (

Lycium sp

.) beginning to thrive. Boxthorn is an example of an important native plant on San Clemente, as it provides a primary nesting habitat and cover for several threatened and vulnerable fauna including the San Clemente Island

sage sparrow (

Amphispiza belli clementeae

) and the island night lizard (

Xantusia riversiana reticulata

).

Additional endemic plant species have sprouted where the iceplant was removed, including San Clemente Island lotus (

Acmispon dendroideus var. traskiae

),

Cryptantha traskiae

(a threatened plant in the Borage family), and the San Clemente Island evening primrose (

Camissoniopsis guadalupensis ssp. clementina

.

San Clemente Island is an important Naval base with several hundred duty personnel and civilian workers regularly posted to the island.

The island provides an important auxiliary landing field for the Navy which is used extensively for training.

Navy Seals train on San Clemente, and the southern part of the island is used for ship board gunnery practice.

San Clemente has 14 plants unique to the island, plus several species of endemic animals. CIR arranges habitat restoration work trips for volunteers and staff of CIR. Funding for this kind of habitat restoration is limited, so CIR donates much of the staff time for the trips.

SERG also reimburses CIR from some of our staff costs, and volunteers pay for their own housing and meals.

CIR volunteers remove iceplant on San Clemente Island

Volunteers first travel to San Diego (most staying the first evening at the same motel) before departing for the island by plane from the North Island Naval Air Station on Coronado Island.

The Navy contracts with a civilian airline to transport personnel to the island, so the flights are no charge for volunteers.

Once on the island, the group checks in at one of the base guest housing complexes, reminiscent of a Motel 6.

Low-cost meals are provided at the base commissary, and the evening isn’t complete without a visit to “The Salty Crab” for drinks, pool, and swapping stories of life on the island.

The Navy has been so impressed with CIR’s work, particularly in helping to remove invasive non-native plants in areas difficult to access, that they have invited CIR to play an even larger role in native plant and habitat restoration on San Clemente Island in 2014.

CIR will hold an iceplant removal trip to the island at the end of November 2013, and more volunteer trips are planned for the coming years.

These kinds of trips are very rare, so San Clemente Island remains a very sought after volunteer opportunity.

Experienced volunteers have been given priority on the trips that we have held so far.

With our increasing role in the restoration program in 2014, we hope that more opportunities to volunteer on this remote Navy island will be offered to all CIR volunteers.

CIR volunteers remove iceplant on San Clemente Island

CIR staff and volunteers remove iceplant from around the endangered San Clemente Island lotus

San Clemente Island evening primrose sprouting where iceplant was removed by CIR staff and volunteers.

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