Monday, February 24, 2014

Nearly 200 CIR Volunteers Help with Refugio State Beach Project

Nearly 200 CIR volunteers of all ages have helped plant natives at Refugio State Beach since January, and the work should continue for the next several months. The project will increase native habitat at the mouth of Refugio Creek by removing non-native flora and planting natives along the creek banks, in an area covering about 30,000 square feet. Starting in October, non-native trees, shrubs and grasses were removed by the State Park and CIR. These include Palms, Myoporum, Arundo, Black Acacia, Pampas Grass, Fennel, Castro Bean, Pepper trees, Eucalyptus, and annual grasses. In January, the planting of 3,000 container plants began, including native riparian trees and coastal scrub species.

The project is led and managed by our partner, South Coast Habitat Restoration, a local non-profit organization. CIR is providing assistance with the removal of non-native plants, and is arranging for the bulk of the volunteer help. California State Parks is another partner, and funding from the project has come from the Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Earth Island Institute, the Wildlife Conservation Board and Southern California Edison. The last scheduled planting day is March 8, but volunteers may also be needed to help water the plants until they become established.

End-of-Year Holiday Party Brings Big Winners to CIR!

Photo contest 1st Place:
Tommy Wasden
“Island Bush Mallow and Hummingbird”

Photo contest 2nd Place:
Gretchen Ingmanson:
“Back to the Saddle”
On the evening of December 6, 2013 the CIR administrative office was transformed into a festive holiday gathering place with food stations, a wine pouring station, a photo gallery displaying the many entries in our first annual photo contest, a raffle table brimming with great prizes, and at the top of the stairs: the CIR reception table and friendly welcoming brigade!

If you missed this party, we hope you’ll attend in 2014, as it was a wonderful time enjoyed by over 70 people and included volunteers, members, friends, and family – all gathered together for an evening of good food, conversation, and fun!

Our dazzling “Holiday Queen,” was none other than CIR Board Member Tanya Atwater who, dressed in a festive gown and crown, was the one to thank for organizing the delicious eats that night. Her food stations were filled with delightful offerings and had something for everyone. She was joined in the kitchenette by food table “tsarina” and Board Member Monica Jones and assisted by CIR Treasurer Karen Telleen-Lawton.

Photo contest 3rd Place:
Roland Holzwarth,

Board Member Joel Fithian helped hang lights and greeted party-goers, and CIR President Duke McPherson brought his world-famous guacamole and helped at the reception table. Board Member Dave Edwards and his wife Wanda brought finger sandwiches and decadence in the form of See’s Candy...who can resist!? There were so many helping hands pitching in that night to ensure everyone enjoyed themselves, and we are grateful to them all!

The wine station was manned by Volunteer Coordinator, Linda Benedik (since it was at her desk, after all!), along with volunteer Tim

Honorable Mention:
Roland Holzwarth,
“Rodrigues in Nature”
Kenney, a wine connoisseur who also poured at the CIR Social in September.  
CIR Accounting Department, Jane O’Dell, created the seasonal ambiance with her merry d├ęcor, and volunteer Jane Lumsdaine helped energize raffle ticket sales. Our Executive Director, Ken Owen, gave a rousing speech about CIR that got the crowd cheering and together with Tanya, judged the first annual CIR Natural History Photo Contest and announced the winners! 

The photo contest was a great success and we can’t wait to do it again next year. So keep a camera handy on all your natural never know when that “Kodak moment” could turn into a prize-winning photo!

Congratulations to our 2013 Raffle Winners:
  • Trip for 2 on Island Packers to Anacapa/Santa Cruz/Whale Watching: Jon Huber
  • Collection of CIR Natural History Posters: Dale Parks and Susie Bartz
  • Wildflowers of Santa Monica Mountains Gift Baskets: Phil Andrews and Jon Huber
  • Wine & Candles Gift Basket: Greg Archbald
  • Equestrian-Themed Gift Basket: Jarry Bartz
  • See’s Candy: Dale Parks


Join CIR and hundreds of other environmentally friendly organizations at any of the multiple Earth Day celebrations happening in April (and beyond) in Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties.   The Earth Day celebrations are CIR’s best opportunity to reach out to members of the public who want to become involved with environmental conservation.  In fact, many of our volunteers first heard about CIR at an Earth Day event.

CIR Booth at the Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival, 2013
Earth Day began when Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson witnessed the ravages of the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara.  The first event took place in 1970 when 20 million Americans all over the country demonstrated for the environment.  It has since become a global event, held on weekends and centering on April 22nd, the anniversary of the first Earth Day.

CIR has participated at the Santa Barbara Earth Day event since 2007, and our booth has evolved from a couple of simple displays into a showcase of habitat restoration work on the Channel Islands and mainland.  We prominently display maps and photos of the Channel Islands, and talk to many hundreds of visitors throughout the two-day event.  CIR Board member Cindy Kimmick provides a fascinating display of vertebrates for young people and adults alike, and many people learn about the Channel Islands for the first time at these events.

The Santa Barbara event features two full days of live music, speakers, family activities and interesting exhibitors, including many environmental non-profits.  CIR has become a contributing “sponsor” of this very worthy event.

Since these events keep us very busy, we increasing rely on volunteer “ambassadors” to help us staff the booths.  We pair less experienced volunteers with experienced ones or CIR Board members, so no one will feel overwhelmed.   Being a CIR ambassador at Earth Day is a lot of fun, and it’s a great opportunity to share your experiences of the islands and environmental volunteerism with the public.  We even provide soft drinks and snacks to those who help out.

Become a CIR Earth Day Ambassador! Volunteer at these events:

April 5: Thousand Oaks/Oxnard
April 19: Ojai
April 26: Ventura
April 26 – 27: Santa Barbara and Los Angeles Zoo
May 18: WorldFest (Lake Balboa, Los Angeles)