Friday, November 16, 2012

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

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. 

CIR School Program Brings 2,300 People to the Islands Since 2004

Students from Carpinteria Family School volunteer 
at the Anacapa Island nursery on a class trip
Channel Islands Restoration has brought 2,055 young people and 248 teachers and chaperones to Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands as part of our school and youth program since its inception in 2004.  CIR raised most of the funding to pay for boat transportation and other costs for these trips, which focused on involving students from underserved areas of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. These trips provided the first opportunity for most of these young people to travel on an ocean-going boat, to directly experience marine wildlife and to visit the Channel Islands.  Funding was provided by a combination of public and private sources, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the California Coastal Commission, Sempra Energy Foundation and Citrix Online. 

Students from Sheridan Way Elementary
School (Ventura) on Anacapa Island

CIR worked with 36 schools and youth groups from all over Southern California and beyond.  Participants performed many service tasks including removing invasive plants, collecting seed, growing plants in the Anacapa nursery and care of these plants once they were in the ground.  CIR visited participating schools before each trip to make a presentation on island ecology and conservation biology.  We particularly emphasized the connection between the pollution of mainland streets and watersheds and thereby of the ocean and island environments.  Instruction was curriculum based, reinforcing lessons the students were already learning in the classroom.

Even with fares generously discounted by Island Packers (the official provider of transportation to Anacapa), transportation costs add up quickly.  Boat transportation for an average-size class is $1,500 to $2,000, with additional costs incurred for bus transportation and for CIR staff to organize and lead each trip.  As public sector budgets tighten, CIR is seeking corporate support to help fund these important service-learning programs for local schools.
Fifth graders from Meiners Oaks Elementary volunteer on Santa Cruz Island.