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    Seabirds Regain a Perch on Channel Islands

    LandscapeScorpionRock Growing Solutions is a 501c (3) non-profit organization located in Santa Barbara County. They are dedicated to the restoration and preservation of California’s remarkable botanic wealth and rich diversity. We've supported their work through donations and were pleased to welcome them at this year's Tools for Grassroots Activists Conference. They've accomplished a great deal since they were last featured on The Cleanest Line. Today's post is an update on some of their most recent work.

    The weekend of October 23rd to 26th was spent out at Santa Cruz Island with the help of Don Hartley’s SBCC Environmental Horticulture class and other outstanding volunteers. It was a joint effort between the Channel Islands National Park, the Nature Conservancy, Santa Cruz Island Restoration, and Growing Solutions. The work was part of a restoration effort, headed by David Mazurkiewicz and Laurie Harvey, to restore nesting habitat for the Auklet seabird on Scorpion Rock.

    Growing Solutions became involved with the Montrose Settlements Restoration Program in 2007 to contribute to native plant propagation, habitat restoration, and education efforts. MSRP is the product of a 2001 lawsuit against the Montrose Chemical Company, the main source of DDT contaminants on the south coast.  Invasive species and lack of appropriate native cover coupled with impacts from the chemical spills (i.e. eggshell thinning, reproductive failure) have discouraged nesting opportunities and affected population numbers for several species of seabirds.

    This project, many joked, fit under the rare category of “extreme restoration” due to near-heroic efforts by staff and volunteers to transport seedlings across the channel by boat, carry onto a rock island by hand, and hike up a guano-covered cliff . . .

    [All photos courtesy of Growing Solutions.]

    HikingInSuppliesScorpionRock. . . to be planted in the ground under full sun exposure and blustery ocean winds. While most daylight hours were spent hard at work, there was still time to fit in some rest and relaxation, to take the occasional swim, and to enjoy shared meals with frequent visits from the island's resident fox and spotted skunk.  
    In the end, the crew managed to install over 3000 native plants and retrofit the artificial Auklet burrows on the rock. Just over half of the nearly 50 members of the restoration team were involved through Growing Solutions. During the project, the team was joined by a film crew,  who will soon be posting a short documentary of the project on the web. To find out more information about the project and the film, you can follow this link:

    Additional information about the restoration efforts taking place in and around the Channel Islands is available on the Park's website. Cal State student Josh Adams has assembled a great slide show that illustrates the ongoing work (and includes images of adorable auklet chics).

    Please consider supporting Growing Solutions by becoming a member (members receive a 10% discount on all plants) or by volunteering.

    Additional images from the Fall 09 restoration project:


    A volunteer digs holes for plants imported as part of the extensive habitat-restoration project.

    Plants raised by Growing Solutions are brought to the restoration site via boat before being carried by hikers to their new home on Scorpion Rock.

    The steep slope and tricky footing of this guano-covered slope made ferrying of plants and supplies difficult. It was one of the many challenges that led volunteers to refer to the project as an example of "extreme restoration." 

    A satisfied group of volunteers takes in another gorgeous Channel Islands sunset.

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