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Santa Rosa Island Habitat Restoration


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Santa Rosa Island Habitat Restoration


Channel Islands Restoration has been working on Santa Rosa Island since 2006. Since then we have worked at dozens of project sites all in the name of restoring habitat. From removing ice plant at the shoreline near East Point to restoring the Cloud Forest atop Soledad Mountain, we've worked hard to ensure the protection and conservation of this island's rare and endemic plants and animals.

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Invasive Plant Surveys


Invasive Plant Surveys


Santa Rosa Island Noxious Weed Survey and Eradication

Beginning in 2006 Channel Islands Restoration worked for the Santa Barbara County Agricultural Commissioners Office to survey for and eradicate noxious invasive plants on Santa Rosa Island.

Channel Islands Restoration staff and volunteers joined other stakeholders in mapping all known populations of Yellowspine Thistle and Silverleaf Nightshade with GPS units. They then pruned the natives surrounding the invasive plants while also removing any growing fruits from the invasives in order to prepare the sites for herbicide treatment. Once the invasive plants were killed, we planted native plants in the open areas to impede invasives from resprouting.

For the nitty gritty details, visit the County of Santa Barbara's Official Project Page and read the final report here.

Targeted Species:

Yellowspine thistle (Cirsium ochrocentrum)

Yellowspine thistle (Cirsium ochrocentrum)

Yellowspine thistle (Cirsium ochrocentrum) is designated by the California Department of Food and Agriculture as an "A" rated noxious weed. 1 Populations of this weed are of very limited distribution in California. In Santa Barbara County, it is only known to occur on Santa Rosa Island. Large infestations could ruin a landscape for rangeland, recreation, and wildlife habitat. - Santa Barbara Agricultural Commissioner.

Silverleaf nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium), also known as white horsenettle, is designated by the California Department of Food and Agriculture as a "B" rated noxious weed.2

Populations of this weed are of limited distribution in California. In Santa Barbara County it has been found on Santa Cruz Island from the Christy Barn area to the Christy airfield area and in Cebada Canyon, but is still very localized. It is found on Santa Rosa Island as well. These Channel Islands populations have received repeated treatments as part of the SBCWMA's Santa Rosa Island Noxious Weed Survey and Eradication Project. A population was found in 2009, and treated [by CIR], on the San Marcos Foothills. Additional historical collections have been made at the Bishop Ranch near Goleta, along a Solvang roadside, along Meigs Road in Santa Barbara, and at the mouth of Rattlesnake Canyon.

Silverleaf nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium)

Silverleaf nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium)


1 "A" rated noxious weeds are plants of known economic importance subject to enforcement action and are the highest priority for eradication by the CDFA and the SBCWMA. Populations of this weed are of very limited distribution in California. In Santa Barbara County, it is only known to occur on Santa Rosa Island. Large infestations could ruin a landscape for rangeland, recreation and wildlife habitat.

2 "B" rated noxious weeds are plants of know economic importance subject to enforcement action and are a high priority for control by the CDFA and the SBCWMA.

 

Santa Barbara Agricultural Commissioner.

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Native Plant Protection


Native Plant Protection


During the ranching era deer and elk were introduced to the island for sport hunting. These non-native herbivores easily grazed upon the endemic island plants which had not adapted to withstand grazing.

As management of the island was nearly finished transferring from the ranchers to the National Park Service, CIR stepped in to install fencing and cages around important plant populations and around newly planted natives around our restoration sites.

When deer and elk were completely removed from the island we underwent the arduous task of removing all of our now-obsolete fencing.

CIR volunteers install fencing around wetland habitat near the top of Lobo Canyon.

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Endangered Species Conservation


Endangered Species Conservation


Channel Islands Restoration assisted park biologists with their work to conserve the endangered and endemic Phacelia insularis var. insularis. We raked large areas of dead nonnative grass detritus in an effort to increase fertilization and germination of the Phacelia. The experimental section had a slightly higher success rate when compared to a control, but it wasn't substanial.

We also propagated and planted a species of extremely rare and endemic Dudleya at China Camp on the southwest side of the island.

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East Point Ice Plant Removal


East Point Ice Plant Removal


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Ice plant (specifically Carpobrotus edulis here) is such a ubiquitous invasive plant on the mainland that eradication seems almost futile. The unique factor in restoring island habitat is that with dedication to eradicating resprouts and taking strong preventative measures for all traffic coming onto the island to be clean of invasive seeds, we can actually completely remove invasives from these delicate island ecosystems.

Why remove ice plant in the first place? I'll let the California Invasive Plant Council answer that:

    Highway iceplant tolerates a range of soil moisture and nutrient conditions and can establish and grow in the presence of competitors and herbivores. These qualities and others have meant that in many natural areas it has formed nearly impenetrable mats that dominate resources, including space. It has invaded foredune, dune scrub, coastal bluff scrub, coastal prairie, and maritime chaparral communities, and competes directly with several threatened or endangered plant species for nutrients, water, light, and space (State Resources Agency 1990). It can suppress the growth of both native seedlings (D'Antonio 1993) and mature native shrubs (D'Antonio and Mahall 1991). In addition, it can lower soil pH in loamy sand (D'Antonio 1990a) and change the root system morphology of at least two native shrub species (D'Antonio and Mahall 1991). - Cal-IPC

Mt. Soledad Cloud Forest


Mt. Soledad Cloud Forest


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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.

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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 camaraderie.

For more information, Channel Islands National Park has a great page on this project. They have a lot more time and money than us...