• Scenic View from Inspiration Point, Anacapa Island ©timhaufphotography.com

    Channel Islands

    National Park California

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  • Santa Barbara Island Closed Due to Storm Damage

    Santa Barbara Island is currently closed to public access due to damage from the high surf associated with Hurricane Marie. More »

  • San Miguel Island Closure

    In the interest of public safety, the U.S. Navy is closing San Miguel Island until further notice due to recent concerns of possible unexploded ordnance. More »

Terrestrial Resources


Channel Islands National Park is widely recognized for its stunning landscapes, amazing ecological diversity, and large number of endemic species (plants and animals that aren't found anywhere else in the world). The islands' Mediterranean climate, characterized by cool, wet winters, dry, warm summers, and abundant sea fog, dictates the fortunes of their inhabitants. Despite having similar overall climate, each island contains a unique set of plant and animal communities depending on what species were able to colonize each island, their human histories, as well as differences in microclimates, geology, and soils.

The park's habitats are like a patchwork quilt laid over their geologic and earthen landscapes. Sweeping stands of coastal scrub and chaparral, mixed in with grasslands, provide food and shelter to numerous creatures including the Island Loggerhead Shrike and island fox. Shady woodlands are home to Spotted Towhees and Island Scrub Jays. Water, essential to all life, and especially precious in an arid environment like the Channel Islands, springs up through ephemeral vernal pools and ribbon-like riparian corridors that thread through the landscape.

But the plants and animals you see on the Channel Islands now may be quite different than what once lived here. The vegetation on every island is in the process of recovering from grazing, farming, military use, and the introduction of exotic species. The paleontological record also shows that there were species that once lived on the islands like the pygmy mammoth and the giant deer mouse, which are now extinct.

The National Park Service and its partners have undertaken a number of research and monitoring efforts to learn more about the park's terrestrial resources. The Inventory & Monitoring Program has a number of on-going projects, including surveys of native and non-native plants, and monitoring to understand how landscape patterns are changing over time. The U.S. Geological Survey has also been working with the park on vegetation, landbirds and small mammal monitoring and trend analysis.

Did You Know?

Island fox                                                  timhaufphotography.com

Island foxes are the smallest North American canids and occur only on the Channel Islands. The average weight for an adult male is 5-6 pounds, about the size of a house cat.