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“Celebrating Recovery on the Islands of the Californias” Symposium on Saturday, February 25 Explores Ecological Efforts that Have Led to Recovery of Channel Islands’ Unique Flora and Fauna

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The public is invited to join conservation experts in a day-long exploration of successful ecological recovery efforts on California’s Channel Islands at Santa Barbara Botanic Garden’s 10th Annual Symposium, “Celebrating Recovery on the Islands of the Californias.” Three conservation “heroes” are honored, speakers from conservation organizations and agencies recount programs spanning decades and current activities, and the day culminates in a panel discussion with the experts about the future actions to support the recovery of the Islands’ unique flora and fauna.

The Symposium is held Saturday, February 25 from 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. at the Santa Barbara County Education Office at 4400 Cathedral Oaks Road in Santa Barbara. Advance registration is required, and admission is $30 for the public, $25 for Garden Members, and $15 for students with a valid ID. Lunch and snacks are included. It is also available to view online for free. Register at https://sbbotanicgarden.org/classes-events/10th-annual-conservation-symposium.

Stunningly beautiful and home to unique plants and animals found nowhere else in the world, the islands of the Californias faced ecological disaster due to the introduction of nonnative, invasive animals between 150 and 100 years ago. Populations of sheep, goats, deer, rats, cats, and even ants reached unsustainable levels.

“Fortunately, indomitable conservationists stepped in across the archipelago — from both federal agencies and nongovernmental organizations — to do the near impossible job of removing these invaders,” said the Garden’s Director of Conservation, Denise Knapp, Ph.D. “Against steep logistical, legal, and political headwinds, these conservation heroes stayed firm in their knowledge that the islands couldn’t recover without this crucial action. And they made it happen.”

Three of the many heroes who have led efforts on the Channel Islands are honored with the Garden’s Pritzlaff Conservation Award, which is presented annually to recognize conservation achievements in California and around the world. Each winner gives a keynote address at the beginning of the symposium.

Kate Faulkner, former Chief of the Natural Resources Division for Channel Islands National Park (1990 to 2016), led complex eradication efforts for six invasive animal taxa on three islands. Peter Schuyler led sheep eradication and cattle removal as Santa Cruz Island Preserve Director for The Nature Conservancy from 1980 to 1989. Over 20 years, Grupo de Ecología y Conservación de Islas (GECI) in Baja California has removed 60 populations of invasive mammals of 11 species on 39 Mexican islands. Accepting the award and speaking are General Director Federico Alfonso Méndez Sánchez, Ph.D., and Luciana Luna-Mendoza, Ph.D., the Director of Ecology.

Experts presenting at the Symposium represent a variety of conservation organizations and government agencies including The Nature Conservancy, Catalina Island Conservancy, Channel Islands National Park, U.S. Navy, U.S. Geological Survey, and Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. All speakers also participate in the panel discussion that concludes the Symposium.

The annual Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Conservation Symposium, established in 2012, addresses topics that are critical to environmental conservation in the region, as well as nationally and internationally. Established in 2007, the Honorable John C. Pritzlaff Conservation Award recognizes conservation achievements in California and around the world. It honors the former Garden Trustee’s life-long commitment to conservation and serves to inspire others to understand the importance of conservation and to take action.

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