Friday, September 23, 2011

Sierra Club National Service Trip to Santa Cruz Island

During the week of September 19, Sierra Club members from all over the country joined CIR staff and key volunteers for some vigorous volunteer work and sightseeing on Santa Cruz Island.  Sierra Club service trips are advertised nationally, and participants pay a fee to the club in order to volunteer in interesting and beautiful locations.  Part of the fee for our trip helps pay two CIR staff members, who spend five days providing a very memorable volunteer experience in some of the most spectacular locations on the island.  The fee also covers the cost of boat transportation, plus vehicles and housing at the UC Reserve Field Station on the island.  Our staff were joined by CIR board member Tanya Atwater (a noted geophysicist) and Jerry Mitcham, a CIR volunteer and Santa Monica Mountain Trails Council board member.

The volunteers helped survey for Vinca major (a highly invasive weed) and helped maintain trails on the island.  The Vinca survey kicked off a new project that CIR has to eradicate the weed in Canada del Puerto, the largest riparian area on the island.  After being trained to spot the plant, the volunteers surveyed at least a third of the Canada, and flagged the sites with colored tape.  The sites were then entered into a GPS.

CIR provides four nights of educational programs during the trip.  These include:

  1. The biological significance of the island and its cultural history
  2. A presentation by Tanya Atwater on the geological history of Southern California and of the island
  3. An overview of restoration on the island, including fox and bald eagle recovery and habitat restoration
  4. and an evening of astronomy, far from city lights, with an 8 inch Mead telescope!

The Sierra Club volunteers work hard for four days and are then treated to a day off hike to the south side of the island.  CIR staff are proud to work hard to provide a productive, fun and educations trip to Santa Cruz Island!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

New Video on Bald Eagle Restoration on the Channel Islands

Check out this new video recently posted on the Channel Islands Natiponal Park web site.  it provides some details about the restoration of the Bald Eagles on the Channel Islands.  The video can be found here:

Also, if you've never seen the Santa Cruz Island "Eagle Cam" you should check it out! Especially when there are eggs and chicks in the nest, it's one of the most popular web cams on the internet!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Internet and Social Media Helps CIR Organize

Over 1000 people are now fans of our Facebook page ( adding a powerful social media component to or organizing capability.  We have been using a huge email list and an extensive web page to communicate with volunteers since the year 2000, but our Facebook page has only recently become a relevant component of how we recruit volunteers for habitat restoration projects.  Facebook is attracting new people to our organization, and we plan to use the page to post news and interesting features about the islands soon.

Just 20 year ago, non-profits would use written newsletters and phone trees to publicize events.  Now we can use the web, email, blogs Facebook and soon Google Plus to reach volunteers.  Using these tools to their fullest extent can be rather time consuming, but we are able to reach thousands of people quickly and at short notice. 

As popular as CIR is with the public, attracting fans to our Facebook page requires a little finessing.  Earlier this year we publicized the page to our email list (of nearly 1,100 people) which provided an initial surge of fans to the page.  We also created a custom "landing page" so that people who visit the page for the first time see an attractive graphic urging them to "Like" us and learn more about the organization.  Links to the Facebook page can be found on our of our promotional materials, including business cards, brochures and on our web page. 

We look forward to adding more fans in the future, and we plan to use the page for more than just announcing volunteer opportunities.  Watch the page for interesting news and tidbits about all eight of the Channel Islands and about environmental restoration in general.