Leaving Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park, California (3)

Channel Islands National Park is a United States 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 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. Channel Islands National Park is home to a wide variety of significant natural and cultural resources. It was designated a U.S. National Monument on April 26, 1938, and a National Biosphere Reserve in 1976. It was promoted to a National Park on March 5, 1980. More than 2,000 species of plants and animals can be found within the park. 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. Spotted Skunk and Channel Islands Fox also are endemic. The Island fence lizard is also endemic to the Channel Islands. Other animals in the park include Island Scrub Jay, harbor seal, 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 ever to live on earth. Archeological and cultural resources span a period of more than 10,000 years. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Channel_Islands_National_Park Santa Cruz Island was the largest privately owned island off the continental United States, but is currently part-owned by the National Park service (NPS owns 24%, and the Nature Conservancy owns 76%). The island, located off the coast of California, is 22 miles (35 km) long and from 2 to 6 miles (3.2 to 9.7 km) wide. It is part of the northern group of the Channel Islands of California, and at 61,764.6 acres (249.952 km2) or 96.507 sq mi) is the largest of the eight islands in the chain. Santa Cruz Island is located within Santa Barbara County, California. The coastline has steep cliffs, gigantic sea caves, coves, and sandy beaches. Defined by the United States Census Bureau as Block 3000, Block Group 3, Census Tract 29.10 of Santa Barbara County, the 2000 census showed an official population of two persons. Highest peak is Devils Peak, at 2450+ feet (747+ m). A central valley splits the island along the Santa Cruz Island Fault, with volcanic rock on the north and older sedimentary rock on the south. Santa Cruz is the only place where the Island Scrub Jay is found. Archaeological investigations indicate that Santa Cruz Island has been occupied for at least 9,000 years. The island was home to the largest population of island Chumash and developed a highly complex society dependent on marine harvest, craft specialization and trade with mainland groups. The Santa Cruz Island Chumash produced shell beads that they used for currency, which formed an important part of the overall Chumash economy. Native villagers had no known contact with outsiders until the 16th and early 17th centuries. Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, who is credited with the first European exploration of the California coast, observed at least six villages, though he and his crew never stopped at the island. Cabrillo named the island San Lucas, although the Chumash called it Limuw. In 1602, Sebastián Vizcaíno led the last Spanish expedition to California. His map named Santa Cruz Island the Isla de Gente Barbuda (island of the bearded people). Between 1602 and 1769 there was no recorded European contact with the island. Finally, in 1769, the land-and-sea expedition of Don Gaspar de Portolà reached Santa Cruz Island. Traveling with him were Father Juan González Vizcaíno and Father Francisco Palóu. Father Palóu wrote of Father Vizcaíno’s visit to the Santa Cruz village of Xaxas that the missionaries on ship went ashore and “they were well received by the heathen and presented with fish, in return for which the Indians were given some strings of beads.” The island was considered for establishment of a Catholic mission to serve the large Chumash population. When Mission San Buenaventura was founded across the channel in 1782, it commenced the slow religious conversion of the Santa Cruz Chumash. In 1822, the last of the Chumash left the island for mainland California. With Mexico’s independence from Spain in 1821, the Mexican government asserted its control over California. In an effort to increase the Mexican presence, the government began sending convicted criminals to populate many areas. Around 40 prisoners were sent to Santa Barbara where, upon arrival, they were sent to Santa Cruz Island. They lived for a short time in an area now known as Prisoners Harbor. Governor Juan Alvarado made a Mexican land grant of the Island of Santa Cruz to his aide Captain Andrés Castillero in 1839. When California became a state in 1850, the United States government, through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, required that land previously granted by Spanish and Mexican governments be proved before the Board of Land Commissioners. A claim was filed with the Land Commission in 1852, confirmed by the US Supreme Court and the grant was patented to Andrés Castillero in 1867. For twelve years Castillero’s claim to Santa Cruz Island was disputed, even after his property had been sold. During Castillero’s ownership, Dr. James B. Shaw, an English physician, acted as manager of the island. He built the island’s first ranch house by 1855 and is thought to have brought the first French Merino sheep to the island. Castillero sold the island to William Barron, a San Francisco businessman and co-owner of the company Barron, Forbes & Co., in 1857. During the twelve years that Barron owned the island, Dr. Shaw continued to manage it as superintendent and was charged by Barron to expand the sheep ranching operation begun during the Castillero era. The Civil War significantly increased the demand for wool and by 1864 some 24,000 sheep grazed the hills and valleys of Santa Cruz Island. The real property eventually passed to The Nature Conservancy through a prior agreement that Carey Stanton had established with the non-profit organization. The Nature Conservancy, who rapidly liquidated the cattle operation and ended the ranching era on the island. Santa Cruz served as a base for otter hunters, fishermen, and smugglers. Smugglers Cove, for instance, derived its name from these illicit activities. The Channel Islands often provided smugglers and bootleggers with convenient and isolated hideaways in which to store their goods for a time. George Nidever recalled hunting otter at Santa Cruz in the winter of 1835-1836. Working from a base camp at Santa Rosa Island, he and two others obtained 60 skins that season. Fishermen encamped on the island, trading fish for other goods from passing boats. The military forces of the United States took notice of Santa Cruz Island during World War II, and since that time have constructed and maintained strategic installations in the name of national security. Like all its neighbors, Santa Cruz Island served as an early warning outpost watching for enemy planes and ships during World War II. The Cold War brought the communications station as a part of the Pacific Missile Range Facility. This station remains in operation, although not at the levels of its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s. Today, the island sees many tourists brought here by Island Packers, which lands at Smugglers Cove and Scorpion Anchorage in the National Park. In 1936 the Caire family reportedly offered their 90% of the island for $750,000 to the state of California for use as a state or federal park. Nothing came of this proposal and the property was sold to Edwin Stanton. Stanton's son and heir was not interested in a government purchase of his island and took steps to avoid such events by forging an agreement with The Nature Conservancy and the property was transferred to the organization upon his death. Although Santa Cruz Island is included within the boundaries of Channel Islands National Park, The Nature Conservancy portion of the island does not belong to the park. A transfer of 8,500 acres (34 km2) from the Nature Conservancy to the park was completed in 2000. Channel Islands National Park owns and operates approximately 24% of Santa Cruz Island. The remaining land is managed by a combination of organizations which includes The Nature Conservancy, the University of California Field Station, and the Santa Cruz Island Foundation. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Cruz_Island
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