Friday, May 29, 2015

CIR Sponsors Santa Cruz Island School Trips

You may think Santa Barbara Cleveland School’s mascot is the Dolphins, but for a couple of days in early May they became the Cleveland Clippers. That’s because each sixth grade class spent a day on Santa Cruz Island clipping the heads off of thousands of non-native oyster plants (Tragopogon porrifolius).  This invasive plant is native to Europe and known for its edible roots that taste like oysters.  However, in the U.S., like most invasive plants, the oyster plant has aggressively spread, smothering out native plants along the way, and has established itself as a roadside weed in nearly every state.

For most students, it was their first trip to the islands and their first boat ride ever. Dolphin, whale, and island fox sightings awed the students, as did the view at our Cavern Point picnic site. Eventually we found our way to the project site beyond the upper campground. There we spread out to locate non-native plants in various stages of bud, flower, and seed. Each student used safety scissors to clip off and carefully bag the heads. Most found the task to be pleasant, aside from dealing with the burrs of Ripgut grass, another invasive plant species, that nestled into their socks. After a couple of hours of hard work, we admired the huge pile of filled black plastic bags. Then, covered with white sap and burrs, we hauled them back to the mouth of Scorpion Canyon. We spent an hour or so to visit the Visitor’s Center and relax at the beach before the arrival of the return boat.

The trips were a culmination of work by CIR board member Cindy Kimmick with sixth graders and their teachers, Sam Adams and Kevin Sullivan. Since Fall, Cindy, with the help of other CIR board members, provided the students with natural science lessons in topics including GPS mapping and the near decimation of the island foxes and made the learning process interesting for the students. 

CIR was able to offer the trip free of charge using grants from the Men’s Garden Club of Santa Barbara, the Bentson Foundation, and Susan Shields. The funding covered the cost of the boat and the bus, plus the cost of our staff to organize and lead the trips.  A total of 55 students attended the trips, and five volunteer Work Leaders, in partnership with the Channel Islands National Park Service, also assisted the CIR staff with the trip, including Ron Nichols, Randy Bowin and Dennis Kulzer, plus CIR Board members Cindy Kimmick and Karen Telleen-Lawton.

Cleveland School was chosen because it is an underserved school with enthusiastic and environmentally-aware sixth grade teachers that is also the focus of outreach projects for one board member’s parish, All Saints-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church.

The highlight for many was the knowledge that thousands of bagged seeds will prevent millions of new plants: an invasion literally nipped in the bud. But likely most would name an additional favorite: watching hundreds of dolphins approach the boat and surf our wake. It was an enthralling show seemingly just for the graduating Cleveland Dolphins. 

CIR thanks the Cleveland School, their teachers, Kevin Sullivan and Sam Adams, and their wonderful students for helping with this important restoration project on Santa Cruz Island! — Karen Telleen-Lawton.

Planting Completed on San Nicolas Island! 8,000 Plants

Channel Islands Restoration and volunteers, in partnership with the U.S. Navy, have been kept busy with the restoration project on San Nicolas Island this year! Since February, CIR has successfully installed 8,000 island native plants with the help of 58 volunteers over the course of 5 multi-day volunteer trips. This completed the planting phase that began in December of last year when our first volunteer planting crew started by putting in native plants, including California box thorn and two species of native cacti, to help with erosion control on the island and to help enhance habitat for the Island Night Lizard.

The Island Night Lizard is endemic to only three of the eight Channel Islands. The lizard was recently removed from the endangered species list because of conservation efforts led by the Navy on San Nicolas and San Clemente Islands, and by the Park Service on Santa Barbara Island. Navy staff on San Nicolas have designed a project to enhance lizard habitat by planting species the lizard is known to favor.

In the wild, these thorny plants grow in impenetrable thickets that protect lizards from predators. CIR propagated these native plants from seed in the island nursery that was rebuilt by CIR in 2012. Even the seeds these plants grew from were collected on the island by CIR nursery staff and volunteers.

Through rain or shine, the valuable volunteer crews were able to finish plant installation and created an irrigation system for the native plants. All this could not have been accomplished without the hard work put in by CIR staff, Kevin Thompson and Nick Hernandez, and the dedicated volunteers who assisted on this restoration project. In upcoming months, CIR staff and volunteers will continue to care for these newly installed plants with watering and maintenance trips. Watch for upcoming volunteer opportunities!

Announcing CIR’s New Office Relocation

Last year, CIR began searching for an office space comparable to the one we had in the city of Carpinteria, and the search is finally over! With the help of friends and CIR Board Members, CIR has moved to a new space for its administrative office in the city of Santa Barbara.  We are now located off of Milpas Street in the Rabobank Plaza near Trader Joe's.  Guests and volunteers are welcome to visit our administrative office Monday through Friday from 9AM-5PM where we can better assist you!  Our phone numbers remain the same, and any mailing items can be sent or delivered to our new address stated below.

Our new address:
928 Carpinteria Street, Suite #3
Santa Barbara, CA 93103

Watch for an Open House Celebration announcement in the upcoming month of June, and stop by to take a look at our new office!

Success at Earth Day Festivals: Over 400 Sign Up to Volunteer for CIR!

In the month of April, CIR participated in three Earth Day events over three  weekends and is excited to announce all had great turnouts, in addition to many new CIR volunteer sign-ups.  We had over 400 new volunteers join CIR this year just at the Earth Day Festivals!  This year, CIR hosted booths at the Earth Day events in the cities of Oxnard, Santa Barbara, and Ventura.

CIR was among hundreds of other non-profit and environmentally-friendly organizations at the Earth Day Festivals, and these  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 first participated at the Santa Barbara Earth Day event in 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.  CIR has also participated in the Thousand Oaks and Ojai Earth Day events and even some in the Los Angeles area in the previous years.

CIR Board member Cindy Kimmick brings her fascinating display of vertebrates for young people and adults alike, and she provides the visitors with a fun interactive learning opportunity.  CIR merchandise, such as our 100% organic cotton t-shirts, CIR caps, and educational field guides, is also made available for purchase at these events. 

We thank all those that took the time to visit our booth and the volunteers that helped make our booth successful!

CIR will be a first-time contributing "sponsor" at this year's Summer Solstice Celebration on June 19-21.  In the upcoming weeks, we will be looking for volunteers to assist us at this event as  CIR Ambassadors!