Friday, May 30, 2014

March CIR Membership Party and Natural History Walking Tours Fun and Educational!

In March, CIR members were treated to a gorgeous day for our annual membership appreciation party at Rincon Beach Park in Carpinteria.  Each available picnic table was filled to the brim with the smiling faces of CIR members snacking on chips, salsa, and Duke McPherson’s delicious homemade guacamole, not to mention whole fruit and granola bar baskets to tease the appetite, in anticipation of the feast to come.

CIR Membership Party at Rincon Beach Park. 

As festivities got underway, everyone enjoyed the delightful sounds of musician, Lawrence Wallin and the Glendessary Jam, who generously donated their tunes, talents, and time in exchange for helping themselves to the pot-luck buffet and barbecued fare.  With a sighting of coastal bottlenose dolphins from the pavilion, outstanding ocean views and sunny skies, one couldn’t have asked for a better setting.

One entire twelve-foot picnic table was absolutely overflowing with pot-luck goodies from salads, sides, and snacks to delectable desserts—it truly was an impressive turnout of culinary contributions that satisfied everyone.  After

The Glendessary Jam making great music!
the feast, which featured marinated chicken and veggie burgers provided by CIR and barbecued to perfection by Mr. President himself, Duke McPherson, we all enjoyed a presentation given by Executive Director, Ken Owen, during which he crowned Ron Nichols the first-ever CIR volunteer of the year!  Ron was applauded and awarded a commemorative wooden plaque, as well as a brand new Anacapa Island t-shirt and CIR cap.

Following the picnic, CIR members took a short drive to the Carpinteria Bluffs Preserve where

CIR Board President Duke McPherson and Gretchen Ingmanson prepare BBQ chicken.
Wayne Ferren was the first to speak about the ecology and the plant communities of the area.  Members were then treated to a talk with Tanya Atwater on the beach about local geology, as well as a docent-led program at the Carpinteria Harbor Seal Sanctuary.  The final tour was a visit to the Carpinteria Tar Pits Park.  Here, members were addressed by Wayne Ferren, Tanya Atwater, and John Johnson of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History about the history of the tar pits and the ancient flora and fauna that had been preserved there.

Ron Nichols received an award as CIR’s first member of the year at the CIR Membership Party.  Ron has participated in dozens of CIR volunteer events on the Channel Island and on the mainland.

CIR Busy on San Nicolas Island

CIR is working in partnership with several organizations on four distinct restoration projects on San Nicolas Island.  Starting in February, CIR started growing up to 7,000 native plants in the island nursery.  The nursery was constructed by CIR staff and volunteers in 2012 to grow plants
for an erosion control project.  The latest batch of plants will be used to enhance habitat for the island night lizard and also to mitigate the impacts from a wind generation construction project.  The nursery is now filled to capacity with thousands of plants covering all three of the huge nursery tables.  An expansion of the nursery space is in the planning stages. 

The island night lizard (restricted to just three of the Channel Islands) was recently removed from the endangered species list, because lizard numbers have increased markedly with conservation efforts led by the Navy and the Park Service.  To help insure that the species continues to thrive, Navy staff on San Nicolas have designed a project to enhance the habitat of the lizard.  CIR is growing several plant species that the lizard is known to favor for habitat including, box thorn and three species of cactus.  In the wild, these plants grow in impenetrable thickets that protect the lizards from predators.   The plants will be installed with the help of CIR in the fall.

CIR recently welcomed Sheri Mayta to our staff to oversee the nursery on San Nicolas.  Sheri has over

nine years of experience in native plant nursery management and native plant propagation. She owns and operates Estero Natives, a native plant nursery in Carpinteria.  She worked for Coastal Restoration Consultants (CRC) as a senior restoration ecologist and nursery manager. With CRC she managed the production of up to 50,000 plants per year at on-site nurseries.  Sheri was raised in Ventura, Ca. where she currently resides with her two children.

In addition to growing plants, CIR is helping to eradicate invasive plants that are a priority for the Navy, who owns the island.  Several CIR staff and volunteers have also been helping to eradicate two invasive plants that are particularly troublesome, ecologically.  Sahara mustard (brassica tournefortii) was introduced to the island several years ago and is a highly invasive species that has devastated the ecology of many areas in our mainland deserts.  Carnation spurge (euphorbia terracina) has recently spread to many new areas throughout California, and several populations have been found on San Nicolas.  The Navy is working with CIR and other contractors to eradicate both of these highly invasive plants before they spread any further on the island.