May 13, 2015

FIND YOUR PARK ... and Your Favorite Endangered Species!

May 15 is Endangered Species Day. While a single day is fine excuse for highlighting the need to protect – and sometimes help bring back – the species that share our planet, it’s important to remember that successful protection – and recovery – is the result of painstaking effort undertaken 365 days a year. And there’s no finer example of endangered species recovery than the Channel Islands’ island fox.

Descendant of the mainland gray fox, the island fox – standing roughly a foot tall and weighing four to five pounds - is found nowhere else in the world but on the Channel Islands off our Southern California coast, including three of the five islands of Channel Islands National Park. The recovery of the island fox on those three islands – Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel – now unofficially (the fox has yet to be officially removed from the endangered list) ranks as one of the fastest recoveries of an endangered species. Ever.

Understanding the story of the island fox is important, not just for its happy ending but for its moral. Nature is a complex web and man’s hand can often fracture the strands in unexpected fashion. The simple version of the island fox story goes like this. Was a time when island foxes scampered across Santa Rosa, San Miguel and Santa Cruz by the hundreds, but when bald eagles vanished from the Channel Islands (the bald eagles ingested DDT washed into the ocean, the chemicals causing the eagles to lay thin-shelled eggs that dehydrated or broke in the nest before they could hatch), a strange thing happened. Suddenly the foxes were dying faster than campaign promises in February. The reason was quickly apparent, though not to the island fox, a creature not instinctively hard-wired to protect itself from aerial attacks. With the dominant bald eagles gone, golden eagles assumed dominion of the islands’ skies. Bald eagles normally eat fish, but the golden eagles were only too happy to gorge themselves on the hapless island foxes, who wandered about in the open like fuzzy take out dinners. At one point the island fox population on Santa Rosa dropped to fourteen. 

Many, many hands plunged in to perform a near miracle; diligent, quiet, caring, anonymous hands you will never know. One by one, biologists captured the golden eagles, relocating them to the eastern Sierra Nevada. With equal care biologists oversaw a captive island fox breeding program and an effort to reestablish bald eagles on the islands. Both were successful. 

Many believe it is only a matter of short time before the island fox is removed from the government's endangered species list.

So tip your hat to Endangered Species Day!

Sometimes, regarding hope, there is a very narrow window. But the breeze of possibility always blows through it.  

Want to learn more about the Island Fox?  Click here.
For more about Endangered Species Day, click here.

May 5, 2015

FIND YOUR PARK ... the First T of Philantrophy

When we think of philanthropy, we imagine deep pockets, successful dotcom executives and long term endowments.  But there is more to giving than wealth.  Think... time!  That's right, the first T of philanthropy is the gift of time.  Just ask these young people! 
On April 21st the Buena High School Environmental Club was awarded the National Park Service’s prestigious Hartzog Volunteer Youth Group Award, picked from youth groups nominated from over 400 national parks sites. The honor didn’t come easy. For over 17 years members of Buena’s Environmental Club – nearly 1,000 students over that long haul – made monthly trips to Anacapa Island during the school year, working to successfully remove a species of nonnative ice plant, an exercise in perseverance (if you’ve ever seen ice plant spread, you know) and belief. 
As part of the FIND YOUR PARK campaign, CBS National News correspondent David Begnaud traveled to Channel Islands National Park with members of the Buena club to better understand how the parks inspire and how the park service's Centennial campaign is reaching out to young people.
Watch the story at:…/the-national-park-service-helps-y…/

Buena’s students weren’t the first teens to exhibit the power of belief on the Channel Islands. On Santa Cruz Island, there’s a lovely place called Delphine’s Grove. Most visitors know it as the small stand of cypress pines, reached by a short hike up Smuggler’s Road from the campground. What many visitors don’t know is the huddle of trees were planted by Delphine Grove, the oldest child of Justinian Caire (who supervised a ranching operation on the island that began around 1880). Naysayers told Delphine her fledgling cypress would never grow; that she was wasting her time, the bluff is dry and virtually without water.

Now you can stretch out beneath the cypress, listening to the wind whisper through the boughs, and know naysayers are often wrong and the time invested was so well worth it.

April 28, 2015

Perks of a Park! CHANNEL ISLANDS NATIONAL PARK, that is!

Some parks are large and some are small.  Some are steeping in military tradition and some are lessons in patent law... who knew?  But no matter their size or influence, our parks serve us in ways you might never have imagined.  Sure, you can travel to the bottom of a canyon carved over millions of years by the mighty Colorado.  And, yes, you can exercise your 'Wild' side on the Pacific Crest Trail with a side trip to Mt. Whitney.  All the while and along the way you'll be rejuvenated and inspired!  But did you know our National Parks provide a unique and significant economic benefit too?

According to a peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis just released, our National Parks provide a cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy of $29.7 billion.  That's right: BILLION with a B!  Talk about AMERICA'S GREAT IDEA!  

Here locally, at Channel Islands National Park visitors spent an estimated $20.2 Million in local gateway regions during their stays. These expenditures supported a total of 290
jobs, $11.4 Million in labor income, $17.6 Million in value added, and $28.6 Million in economic output for the communities surrounding Channel Islands National Park.

So next time you gaze out to sea wondering about those land masses off our coast; those five islands that comprise Channel Islands National Park, remember the jobs, spending and overall economic benefit they bring to our communities and to our state. 

Want to see more? Follow this link!

We said it before and we'll keep saying it:  Have you FOUND YOUR PARK?

April 18, 2015


Photo credit: Tim Hauf,
What an amazing time to be alive and engaged with the world around you!  There are no shortages of options to share your passion with like minded people across the globe... Updates on Facebook? Of course!  Pin your favorite idea for a DIY project on Pinterest?  You bet!  That stellar image of Inspiration Point on Anacapa Island to Instragram?  Yes, please!  See where we're going with this?

Its time to get out and explore... the world awaits!  And if you have friends and family flung to the far corners of the planet, its OK.  Everything you experience here can be easily shared through social media creating virtual gatherings that build memories for a lifetime!

So FIND YOUR PARK this week during National Park Week and share what you discover!  Start by grabbing the kids and heading down to Channel Islands National Park Visitor Center for Junior Ranger Day. Did you know that Channel Islands National Park offers four different junior ranger programs? That's worthy of a post on Facebook right there!

Photo credit:Vahagn Nahabedian
Kids can complete the  visitor center and island junior ranger programs of course, but can also become Junior Ranger Underwater Explorers, Paleontologists, Wilderness Explorers, and Night Explorers! How's that for a whole lot of exploring!

Check out for more information.

Maybe photography is your passion?  Then consider a visit to Channel Islands National Park visitor center Sunday April 19th at 11:00am for the first EVER, nationwide Instameet!  Rangers will host a Tidepool Talk sharing information about fascinating ocean animals including California's own state fish, the Girabaldi!  
Photo credit: Brett Seymour

After the program, participate by snapping a shot of your favorite Channel Islands ocean critter and post using ‪#‎ChannelIslandsInstaMeet‬ or #‎FindYourParkInstaMeet‬ and tagging @NationalParkService and @GoParks on Instagram!  

You'll be trending before you know it!

Whatever your passion, however you choose to share, its time to get out there and FIND YOUR PARK!  

March 30, 2015

Have You Found YOUR Park Yet?

2016 marks the Centennial Celebration of the National Park Service.  100 years of exploration; 100 years of adventure; 100 years of service to the people of this great country and visitors from around the world!

So we ask you:  Have you found YOUR park?  We have and we know there is a park for everyone!  From Dinosaur National Monument with its over 1500 remarkably preserved dinosaur fossils to the Pony Express National Historic Trail where you can follow in the footsteps of the fastest mail carriers in the west!  We bet you never expected there was such diversity in our National Park network!

Of course our personal favorite is Channel Islands National Park located right off the coast of Southern California.  Comprised of five remarkable islands and almost 200 square miles of ocean, the Channel Islands sustain habitats that are rarely intact on the mainland.  From abundant Giant Goreopsis to tiny live-forever Dudleya the range of life on these isolated islands provides the citizen scientist with hours (and maybe days) of exploration.

Interested in evolutionary biology?  Consider the endemic Santa Cruz Island scrub jay.  This noisy inhabitant of oak and chaparral environments is the subject of a recent report in the journal Evolution.  You can read more about the divergence found within a single population here.  

Or maybe the Island Fox holds your heart!  Driven to near extinction by factors including the opportunistic Golden Eagle, the island fox recovery program has successfully brought these furry favorites back to healthy, sustainable numbers and has recently recommended the species be removed from the endangered list!

Whatever motivates you; whatever interests you, we are confident you will find your muse at Channel Islands National Park.  So come on!  Its time to FIND YOUR PARK!

March 4, 2015

Happy Birthday Channel Islands National Park!

Tomorrow, March 5th marks the 35th anniversary of Channel Islands National Park!  Help us celebrate these five remarkable islands and surrounding waters that comprise the park with a deep dive UP the lookout tower at the Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center in Ventura Harbor.

In conjunction with the park anniversary the newly completed ocean exhibit will be officially opened to the public Thursday, March 5th starting at 4:30pm with a ribbon cutting at 5:30 pm.  Local dignitaries and park personnel will be on hand to welcome visitors and answer questions.  

Not to be missed, these new exhibits interpret the ocean resources and marine reserves found within the national park and surrounding national marine sanctuary.  The space lends itself naturally to transformation into an underwater world where visitors can climb through different sea levels from the deep sea to the ocean surface.  

So come celebrate with us!  And while here, stop in the book store and explore the tidepool exhibit or read about the endangered Island Fox and its remarkable and unprecedented story of recovery.

There is much to see and much to CELEBRATE!

January 21, 2015

Pirates of the Caribbean ala' Ventura Harbor!

Every kid out there remembers playing pirate!  Black patch over one eye, and a hearty drawl of 'Matey' completes the image for many of us with, of course, the imaginary parrot on our shoulder calling 'Polly want a cracker'!

So what's keeping you from playing kid again?  Now through February 1st, Ventura Harbor is hosting both the Hawaiian Chieftain and The Lady Washington.  These majestic tall ships are replicas of ships that plied the seas in the 1800's.  

Want to learn more or step on deck?  While the tall ships are at the harbor, dockside tours offer people a chance to peek around the ships and talk to the volunteer and paid personnel from Grays Harbor Historical Seaport, who dress in period clothing and answer questions about life at sea centuries ago.

The dockside tours run from 4-5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays on both ships and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays on one ship. 

So unleash your inner child and bring your kids too!  Its a great day of learning about life at sea.  And while you're at the harbor, take some time to visit Channel Islands National Park headquarters at the very end of Spinnaker Drive.  Join National Park Service rangers in the visitor center as they show and tell about the many fascinating animals and plants in the marine life exhibit or have a seat in the auditorium and marvel at the beauty of the islands watching Treasure in the Sea. 

There is much to see and even more to learn!  Bring the family and make a day of it at Ventura Harbor!