by Fiorella Calderoni
The National Parks Service greatly appreciates dedicated volunteers who want their favorite national parks to shine. In the spirit of thanksgiving, the Visit Ventura team decided to organize a day of service and what better place to volunteer than Channel Islands National Park? The team met at Ventura Harbor to hop aboard the National Parks Service boat for a day of gardening at Anacapa Island.
We had two awesome group leaders who showed us the ropes.
They taught us all about the native plant nursery and showed us the different stages they go through.
Then they led us on a short hike to see the pelican rookery that breeds on the island.
Hundreds of pelicans lined the rocks on Anacapa’s beautiful coves. (They are all the white specks you see below!)
Finally, it was time to start working. We picked up necessary supplies from the tool shed and learned about the invasive weeds we’d be removing to support habitat restoration on the island.
Invasive weeds are non-native plants that are unwanted and grow or spread aggressively threatening important wildlife habitat by devastating shelter and forage while reducing the diversity and quality of the native habitat. These plants often lead to increased erosion and the National Parks Service depends on hundreds of volunteers, interns, and contractors who help remove them.
Invasive species cause an estimated $138 billion in economic damage each year in the United States. Fortunately, recently arrived non-native plants are easy to eliminate if detected and acted upon promptly. The cost and feasibility of control increases exponentially each year a non-native species is left to spread uncontrolled. That’s where the importance of volunteers comes in.
One thing’s for sure; weeding at a national park with sweeping ocean views is a lot more fun than weeding at home.
There’s something fulfilling about making a difference at our Channel Islands and at the end of the day, we appreciated their beauty even more.
And the boat ride was just as exciting. Crossing the Santa Barbara Channel, we saw three whales, thousands of dolphins, and frolicking sea lions to top off the day.
We’ll definitely be planning this again!
A special thank you to the Channel Islands National Parks Service for making our visit possible. Please visit their website to learn more about volunteer opportunities.