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Restoring a Rare Coastal Wetland on Santa Cruz Island

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Date: March 6, 2012
Contact: Yvonne Menard, 805-658-5725

Biologist Paula Power will discuss a large-scale effort by the National Park Service and The Nature Conservancy to restore the coastal wetland at Prisoners Harbor on Santa Cruz Island during the March "From Shore to Sea" lecture.

Prisoners Harbor, once the largest coastal wetland on the Channel Islands, was important habitat for wildlife, native plants, and migratory waterfowl. The value of this project is significant as coastal wetlands in California are increasingly rare-over 90 percent have been eliminated.

Power will describe how the wetland habitat was reduced by 50 percent in the late 1800s and early 1900s when former island owners filled it with rock and gravel and channelized the creek. These changes degraded the wetland ecology and its function as a natural floodplain.

To restore the wetland's natural function and ecology fill was removed and the landscape reshaped to return it to its former condition. This will allow it to flood naturally. The project included the removal of non-native species and planting of native vegetation to improve the riparian and woodland habitat.

Power, a restoration ecologist for Channel Islands National Park since 2004, is the wetland project lead. Prior to her work with the National Park Service she was a research botanist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Texas. Paula has a bachelor's degree in ecology and evolution from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a master's degree in biology from Texas State University.

This lecture will be held on March 14, 2012. The "From Shore to Sea" lecture series is sponsored by Channel Islands National Park to further the understanding of current research on the Channel Islands and surrounding waters. The lectures occur at 7:00 p.m. on the second Wednesday of March, April, May, September, October, and November at the Channel Islands National Park Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center, 1901 Spinnaker Drive in the Ventura Harbor. The programs are free and open to the public.

Did You Know?

Island deer mouse

The endemic island deer mouse is the only native terrestrial mammal common to all the Channel Islands and is larger than mainland deer mice. Densities of deer mice on the islands can be greater than anywhere else in the world. This makes you happy if you're an owl, but not if you're a camper.