A 25-Year Milestone Reached at Channel Islands National Park
Contact: Yvonne Menard, 805-658-5725
This week Channel Islands National Park celebrates its 25th anniversary as our nation’s 40th national park. The five islands and the surrounding one mile of ocean that comprise Channel Islands National Park were designated on March 5th, 1980, when President Jimmy Carter signed Public Law 96-199. In a letter Carter wrote, “These beautiful, fragile islands richly deserve the recognition and protection that park status provides.”
The legislation expanded the boundary from a two-island national monument, established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938, to a 250,000-acre national park containing the five islands of San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, and Santa Barbara and surrounding waters.
Former United States Congressman Robert J. Lagomarsino first introduced the park bill (HR 3757) in 1979. In congressional testimony Lagomarsino declared, “The islands, which lie at a distance of 11 to 60 miles off the coast of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties in my district, contain nationally significant scenic, ecological, cultural and scientific features which deserve to be protected as a national park for the benefit of generations to come.”
Defining the driving doctrine for the park Lagomarsino stated, “Because of the singular vulnerability of the islands’ resources, some of which exist nowhere else on earth, this legislation specifies that the proposed park would be administered on a low-intensity, limited entry basis, so that visitor use within the park is restricted to levels which would not threaten to destroy the delicately balanced environment found there.”
Reflecting on the park’s future, Channel Islands National Park Superintendent Russell Galipeau said, “The National Park Service will continue to restore the ecological integrity of the Channel Islands while providing continued opportunities for the public to experience the park’s magnificent resources.” The park protects a rich array of natural and cultural resources including over 2,000 terrestrial plants and animals, 145 of which are found nowhere else on earth. The park marine waters are refuge for over 1,000 species of fish, invertebrates, and algae and over 26 species of marine mammals, including the largest concentration of blue whales in the world. The islands support essential nesting and feeding grounds for over 90 percent of the seabirds in southern California, some of which are rare and endangered species. In a remarkably small area, the park preserves the biologic diversity of nearly 2,500 miles of the West Coast of North America.
Unequalled paleontological and archeological resources are found in the park—over 2,500 sites that record nearly 13,000 years of human occupation and a rich heritage from past ranching, fishing, hunting, and military activities. For example, the oldest human remains in North America and the most intact specimen of a pygmy mammoth were found on Santa Rosa Island.
Of importance for the nearly 18 million people that live within 100 miles of the islands, the park offers unparalleled opportunities for solitude, tranquility, wildlife viewing, outdoor recreation, and education.
“In order to protect the nationally significant natural, scenic, wildlife, marine, ecological, archaeological, cultural, and scientific values of the Channel Islands in the State of California… there is hereby established the Channel Islands National Park.” Public Law 96-199
Did You Know?
The world's most complete pygmy mammoth specimen was discovered on Santa Rosa Island in 1994. These miniature mammoths, only four to six feet tall, once roamed island grasslands and forests during the Pleistocene.