Channel Islands National Park

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Channel Islands National Park
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
Channel Islands 11.jpg
A beach in Channel Islands National Park
Map showing the location of Channel Islands National Park
Map showing the location of Channel Islands National Park
Location of Channel Islands National Park
Map showing the location of Channel Islands National Park
Map showing the location of Channel Islands National Park
Channel Islands National Park (the US)
Location Santa Barbara County & Ventura County, California, United States
Nearest city Santa Barbara
Coordinates 34°0.5′N 119°25.0′W / 34.0083°N 119.4167°W / 34.0083; -119.4167Coordinates: 34°0.5′N 119°25.0′W / 34.0083°N 119.4167°W / 34.0083; -119.4167
Area 249,561 acres (1,009.94 km2)[1]
Established March 5, 1980 (1980-March-05)[2]
Visitors 383,687 (in 2017)[3]
Governing body National Park Service
Website Official website
Map of Channel Islands

Channel Islands National Park is an American national park that consists of five of the eight Channel Islands off the coast of the U.S. state of California, in the Pacific Ocean. Although the islands are close to the shore of densely populated Southern California, their isolation has left them relatively undeveloped. The park covers 249,561 acres (100,994 ha) of which 79,019 acres (31,978 ha) are owned by the federal government.[1] The Nature Conservancy owns and manages 76% of Santa Cruz Island, the largest island in the park.[4]

Channel Islands National Park is home to a wide variety of significant natural and cultural resources. Anacapa and Santa Barbara islands were designated as a national monument on April 26, 1938. All eight of the Channel Islands were designated as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1976.[5] Five islands, including Anacapa, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, San Miguel, and Santa Rosa, were redesignated as a national park on March 5, 1980.[6][7] Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary encompasses the waters six nautical miles around Channel Islands National Park.

History

Radiocarbon dating of a fire area near Arlington Canyon on the northwest coast of Santa Rosa Island, shows human habitation from at least 37,000 years BP, while a burned mammoth bone was dated at 30,000 years BP. Similar fire areas close by have been dated at 27,000 years BP and 17,000 years BP, also believed to have been made by man. Additionally, a burned dwarf mammoth with shell midden have been dated to 12,500 years BP. A fire pit in a midden-humus layer has been dated at 11,900 years BP, while above this layer was a stone chopper with a butchered and burned mammoth dated 11,800 years BP. Several more fire areas have been dated at 11,000 years BP, while human bones, Arlington Springs Man, are dated to 10,000 years BP. A circular fishhook was dated at 4,800 years BP. Huge shell mounds appear at 2,000 years BP, while a camp fire in Skull Gulch was dated at 330 years BP.[8][9]

Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo first observed the islands in 1542, later estimated to be inhabited by 2000 to 3000 Chumash on the three northern channel islands, with 11 villages on Santa Cruz, 8 on Santa Rosa, and 2 on San Miguel.[10][11][12] In 1938 the Santa Barbara and Anacapa islands were designated a national monument. San Miguel, Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz islands were combined with the monument in 1980 to form modern-day Channel Islands National Park.[11]

Oil spill

On January 28, 1969 an oil rig belonging to Union Oil experienced a blow-out 6 miles (9.7 km) off the coast of California.[13] The resulting spill was, at the time, the largest oil spill to occur in United States territorial waters. Crews took approximately 11 days to seal the rupture using a cement plug, during which approximately 200,000 US gallons (760,000 litres; 170,000 imperial gallons) of crude oil spilled into the Pacific Ocean, creating an oil slick with an area of about 800 square miles (2,100 km2).[11][14] Following the spill, tides carried the oil onto the beaches of the Anacapa, San Miguel, Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz islands.[14]

This spill had a large impact on native wildlife of the Channel Islands. Much of the islands' seabird population was affected, with over an estimated 3,600 avians killed. Meanwhile, seals, dolphins and other sea life died and washed ashore on both the islands and the mainland.[14][15]

This spill is the third largest oil spill in the United States, only surpassed by the Deepwater Horizon and the Exxon Valdez oil spills.[13] It resulted in a 34,000 acres (14,000 ha) expansion of the Department of the Interior buffer zone in the channel and contributed to the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency.[16]

The State of California Department of Oil and Gas noted 29 natural oil seeps between Point Conception and Rincon Point. The seeps were first noted by Father Pedro Font in 1776. Additionally, tar mounds are concentrated off the coast at Point Conception, Coal Oil Point, and Carpinteria. A natural oil seep also exists off the west coast of San Miguel Island. Finally, the distinctive odor of the petroliferous Monterey Shale is evident on the eastern end of Santa Cruz Island. The Chumash used the tar and oil from these seeps for caulking and adhesives.[9]:1-2

Geography

The islands within the park extend along the Southern California coast from Point Conception near Santa Barbara to San Pedro, a neighborhood of Los Angeles. Park headquarters and the Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center are located in the city of Ventura.

The park consists of 249,354 acres (100,910 ha), half of which are under the ocean, and includes the islands of:

Geology

Weaver describes the geologic province of Anacapa as consisting of the islands of San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, and Anacapia, plus the western portion of the Santa Monica Mountains. The province is to the south of the Santa Barbara embayment, and north of the Catalinia geologic province. Mesozoic in origin, the Anacapia province consists of Late Cretaceous to Miocene age marine sedimentary up to 23,000 feet thick, including 8,000 feet of volcanic rocks, overlain by Pleistocene terrace formations. Aligned with the Santa Monica mountains, the Northern Channel Islands form a mountain system 130 miles long. This island chain appears to be an faulted east-west trending anticline. Major faults include the Santa Cruz Island Fault and the Santa Rosa Island Fault.[9]:1,9

A stratigraphic column would start with the oldest rocks, the Santa Cruz Island schist, forming an elongated core of the island, 10 miles long and 1.5 miles wide. This schiest is intruded by the metamorphosed Alamos Tonalite, which has been dated 145 megaannum. Just to the south of this schist is the Willows Diorite, also of the same age as the tonalite, or Late Jurassic. The only Cretaceous rocks consist of the Jalama Formation, found on San Miguel Island.[9]:11-14,119.

Lower Tertiary sequence of rocks are found within the Christi Anticline on the southwestern part of Santa Cruz Island. The sequence includes the Pozo Formation, Canada Formation, Jolla Vieja Formation, and the Cozy Dell Formation. San Miguel and Santa Rosa islands have the Middle to Late Eocene South Point Formation, while the Cozy Dell Formation is present on Santa Rosa, along with the Sespe Formation.[9]:17-19,37,45-46,120-121

Middle Tertiary formations found on Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz include the Vaqueros Formation, while those two islands plus San Miguel have exposures of the Rincon Formation, and Monterey Formation. Santa Rosa and San Miguel have exposures of the basaltic and dacitic San Miguel Volcanics, which include pillow structures, while the San Onofre Breccia is found on Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, and Anacapa. Santa Cruz Island Volcanics on the north side of the island consist of andesitic flows and volcaniclastics. Middle Miocene Conejo volcanics make up the bulk of Anacapa.[9]:17,48-55,68-69,80-83,91,121-122[17]

During the Late Pleistocene, all of the islands were connected to the mainland, and between 11,000 and 20,000 years BP, the islands remained connected to each other as Santa Rosae. This allowed the Pleistocene mammoths to reach as far west as San Miguel. However, the pygmy mammoth underwent dwarfing as the Channel Islands became isolated. Another species which became extinct was the "giant" mouse.[8]:319,320,323[9]:2,83,

Other geologic features of note on the islands include beachrock, eolianite, and caliche pseudomorphs.[9]:84,105-108

Flora and fauna

Dolphins by Anacapa Island.

More than 2,000 species of plants and animals can be found within the park.[18] However, only three mammals are endemic to the islands, one of which is the deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) which is known to carry the sin nombre hantavirus. The spotted skunk and Channel Islands fox also are endemic. The island fence lizard[19] is also endemic to the Channel Islands.[20] Other animals in the park include island scrub jay, harbor seal, California sea lion, island fox, spotted skunk, island night lizard, barn owl, American kestrel, horned lark and meadowlark and California brown pelican. One hundred and forty-five of these species are unique to the islands and found nowhere else in the world. Marine life ranges from microscopic plankton to the endangered blue whale, the largest animal on earth. Archeological and cultural resources span a period of more than 10,000 years.

Tourism

The average annual visitation to the park's mainland visitor center was around 300,000 in the period from 2007 to 2016, with 364,807 visiting in 2016.[3] The visitor center is located in the Ventura Harbor Village. The visitor center contains several exhibits that provide information regarding all five islands, native vegetation, marine life and cultural history. Also, visitors can enjoy a short film, free of charge, that provides an overview of all five islands. The visitor center is open every day, except Thanksgiving and Christmas, from 8:30AM–5:00PM.[21] Visitation to the islands and waters is low, with about 30,000 visitors traveling to the islands, and another 60,000 who go only into park waters. Although most visitation occurs in the summer, migrating gray whales and spectacular wildflower displays attract visitors in the winter and spring. Autumn is an excellent time to travel to the park, as well as for diving, as the days are usually sunny, with minimal winds and clear ocean water. Camping is a popular activity on Santa Cruz Island, with visitors arriving at Prisoners Harbor [22] on the north shore and staying in the valley beyond. A new island visitor center opened at Scorpion Ranch on Santa Cruz Island on April 6, 2009.[23]

Recreation

Channel Islands National Park offers a wide variety of recreation activities, kayaking through the sea caves being one of the most popular. Backpacking, camping, day hiking, scuba diving, and spearfishing are among the activities available to visitors. Channel Islands National Park is renowned for its large number of complex, beautiful sea caves. Based on ocean conditions and ferry availability, Scorpion Anchorage on Santa Cruz Island is the most visited area in the park for day and camping visitors. It is recommended that inexperienced visitors use caution when visiting the national park due to changing ocean conditions in this unique ecosystem. The National Park Service authorizes a small number of guide and outfitter services.[24]

Gallery

Vessels

The CINP unit operates several vessels in the waters of the park, including the following:

  • Surf Ranger LCM-8 landing craft, 74 ft.[25]
  • research diving boat Pacific Ranger 56 ft.[26]
  • Sea Ranger II 58 ft.[27]
  • Ocean Ranger 100 ft.[28]
  • Sea Ranger 41 ft (retired).[29]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "Listing of acreage as of December 31, 2012". Land Resource Division, National Park Service. Retrieved 2013-09-22. 
  2. ^ Carlson, Cheri (September 2, 2016). "Bringing Channel Islands National Park to the people". Ventura County Star. Retrieved 5 September 2016. 
  3. ^ a b "NPS Annual Recreation Visits Report". National Park Service. Retrieved 2018-02-23. 
  4. ^ "Santa Cruz Island". National Park Service. Retrieved 2011-07-13. 
  5. ^ "Biosphere Reserves » United States of America - Channel Islands". unesco.org. UNESCO. November 2015. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  6. ^ "Channel Islands National Park". The National Parks: Index 2009–2011. National Park Service. Retrieved 2011-07-13. 
  7. ^ 96th U.S. Congress. "An Act To establish the Channel Islands National Park, and for other purposes" (pdf). United States Government Printing Office.  (Pub.L. 96–199, 94 Stat. 67, enacted March 5, 1980)
  8. ^ a b Orr, Phil (1967). Geochronology of Santa Rosa Island, California. Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens: Proceedings of the Symposium on the Biology of the California Islands. pp. 317–325. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Weaver, Donald (1969). Geology of the Northern Islands. American Association of Petroleum Geologists Special Publication. p. 2. 
  10. ^ Chiles, Frederic (2015). California's Channel Islands. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. p. 12,99. ISBN 9780806146874. 
  11. ^ a b c Channel Islands. (2016). In Encyclopædia Britannica
  12. ^ Channel Islands National Park. (2016). Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia, 1p. 1.
  13. ^ a b "Brief Oil and Gas History of Santa Barbara County". Energy Division, Santa Barbara County. Archived from the original on April 18, 2011. Retrieved December 12, 2008. 
  14. ^ a b c "1969 Oil Spill – Summary Articles and Images". www.geog.ucsb.edu. Archived from the original on 2016-11-07. Retrieved 2016-10-14. 
  15. ^ "The 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill that changed oil and gas exploration forever". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2016-10-14. 
  16. ^ The 1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill. (cover story). (2010). Parks & Recreation, 45(11), 42.
  17. ^ scholl, D.W. (1959). "exposures of San Onofre Breccia on Anacapa Island, California". AAPG Bulletin. 43 (1): 222. 
  18. ^ Carlson, Cheri (March 6, 2015). "Lookout tower gives glimpse underwater as Channel Islands park turns 35". Ventura County Star. (Subscription required (help)). 
  19. ^ William, Flaxington (2005). "Photograph of the Island Fence Lizard". Calphotos. Retrieved 2013-09-22. 
  20. ^ Hogan, C. Michael (2008). Stromberg, Nicklas, ed. "Western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)". Globaltwitcher. Retrieved 2013-09-22. 
  21. ^ [1], Channel Islands National Park Basic Information
  22. ^ "Boating – Channel Islands National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 2013-09-22. 
  23. ^ "Public to Enjoy New Visitor Center and Exhibits on Santa Cruz Island". National Park Service. 2009. Retrieved 2014-04-13. 
  24. ^ "Visitor Services List – Channel Islands National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 2014-04-13. 
  25. ^ "Environmental Leadership In The National Parks" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2013-09-22. 
  26. ^ "Channel Islands National Park Business Plan" (PDF). National Park Service. 2004. Retrieved 2013-09-22. 
  27. ^ "20100604 - Channel Islands National Park - Anacapa Island - California (Travel)-A258973.JPG". Jason O. Watson Photography, LLC. Retrieved 7 March 2015. 
  28. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-09-27. Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  29. ^ Press release (October 17, 2001). "Channel Islands National Park Christens New Boat". Retrieved 7 March 2015. 

External links

  • Official site: Channel Islands National Park
  • NPS Public domain pictures of park
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