Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Restoring Habitat for Island Foxes

courtesy of Kevin Pease
Across the Channel Islands efforts are being made to restore the natural ecosystems that the island fox depends on for survival. One such project is the restoration of a wetland area at Prisoner’s Harbor on Santa Cruz Island, in the Channel Islands National Park.

Prior to large scale ranching on Santa Cruz, the canyon at Prisoner’s Harbor had a seasonally flowing stream that created a rare coastal lagoon. This wetland would have attracted amphibians, fish, reptiles, small mammals and migrating birds. It would have provided important food and water for the island fox.

Currently the Channel Islands National Park and the Nature Conservancy are digging out the tons of gravel and dirt that were used to fill in the wetland. Eucalyptus trees that were introduced as wind breaks are being removed and native species are being replanted. You can see some of the work in progress in a video interview by the Ventura County Star with Russell Galipeau, Channel Islands National Park Superintendent.

courtesy of Kirin Daugharty
The hillsides surrounding Prisoner’s harbor have become home to Tani and Tiptu, FIF’s island foxes on twitter. What changes will the island foxes see as the wetland is restored? Will ducks and other migrating bird species visit the area this year? Or will it take years for nature to reestablish itself in this island lagoon?

Restoring native habitat comes in stages: removing introduced species, reintroducing native species that have disappeared, understanding all of the elements of reestablishing nature’s balance.

For more information on the Prisoners Harbor Coastal Wetland Restoration