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Restoring a Rare Coastal Wetland on
Santa Cruz Island

Biologist Paula Power discussed a large-scale effort by the National Park Service and The Nature Conservancy to restore the coastal wetland at Prisoners Harbor on Santa Cruz Island during the "From Shore to Sea" lecture series in March 2012.

Prisoners Harbor, once the largest coastal wetland on the Channel Islands, was important habitat for wildlife, native plants, and migratory waterfowl. The value of this project is significant as coastal wetlands in California are increasingly rare-over 90 percent have been eliminated. Ms. Power described how the wetland habitat was reduced by 50 percent in the late 1800s and early 1900s when former island owners filled it with rock and gravel and channelized the creek. These changes degraded the wetland ecology and its function as a natural floodplain.

To restore the wetland's natural function and ecology fill was removed and the landscape reshaped to return it to its former condition. This will allow it to flood naturally. The project included the removal of non-native species and planting of native vegetation to improve the riparian and woodland habitat.

Ms. Power, a restoration ecologist for Channel Islands National Park since 2004, is the wetland project lead. Prior to her work with the National Park Service she was a research botanist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Texas. Paula has a bachelor's degree in ecology and evolution from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a master's degree in biology from Texas State University.

This lecture was held on March 14, 2012. The "From Shore to Sea" lecture series was sponsored by Channel Islands National Park to further the understanding of current research on the Channel Islands and surrounding waters. The lectures began at 7:00 p.m. on the second Wednesday of March, April, May, September, October, and November at the Channel Islands National Park Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center, 1901 Spinnaker Drive in the Ventura Harbor.

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