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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 33°57′56″N 120°06′30″W / 33.96568055°N 120.1083694°W / 33.96568055; -120.1083694

Map of Channel Islands
Santa Rosa Island

Santa Rosa Island is the second largest of the Channel Islands of California at 53,195 acres (215.27 km² or 83.118 sq mi). Defined by the United States Census Bureau as Block 3009, Block Group 3, Census Tract 29.10 of Santa Barbara County, California, the 2000 census showed an official population of 2 persons. [1] It is part of Channel Islands National Park.[2] Highest peak is Vail Peak, at 1,589 feet (484 m).

Santa Rosa is located about 26 miles (42 km) off the coast of Santa Barbara, California in Santa Barbara County.

It is occupied by rolling hills, deep canyons, a coastal lagoon and beaches adorned with sand dunes and driftwood. The Chumash, a Native American people who lived in the Channel Islands at the time of European contact, called the driftwood wima because channel currents brought ashore logs from which they built tomols (plank canoes).

There are a variety of recreational activities to take part in on Santa Rosa Island, including kayaking, camping and hiking. A private boat charter company offers a number of trips to the island year round, and camping reservations can be made through Channel Islands National Park offices in Ventura, CA.




Early History

Orcas at Santa Rosa Island

During the last ice age, the four northern Channel Islands, including Santa Rosa Island, were conjoined into Santa Rosae, a single island that was only five miles (8 km) off the coast. In 1960, archaeologists discovered the remains of 13,000 year-old Arlington Springs Man, among the oldest human remains in the Americas, on the island. Pygmy mammoths (Mammuthus exilis) have also been excavated there.

Mexican land grant

Governor Manuel Micheltorena made a Mexican land grant of the Island of Santa Rosa to brothers José Antonio Carrillo and Carlos Antonio Carrillo in 1843. They gave the island to Carlos daughters, Manuela Carrillo de Jones and Francisca Carrillo de Thompson. Their husbands - John Coffin Jones (1796 -1861) and Alpheus Basil Thompson (1795 -1869) - entered into a partnership to manage the island. A claim was filed with the Public Land Commission in 1852,[3] but the grant was not patented to Manuela Carrillo de Jones and Francisca Carrillo de Thompson until 1871.[4] The acrimonious Thompson-Jones partnership ended in 1859, and by 1862 T. Wallace More owned the whole island. The island was used as a sheep ranch during the late-1800s by the More family. The More family sold the island to Walter L Vail and J.W.Vickers in 1902.

Recent history

The United States Air Force maintained a radar base on the island during the Cold War.

In the late 1970s Mobil Oil Corporation was granted exploration rights on the island. Both explosive and vibroseis exploration methods were used. Extensive surveys and geological maps were made at that time.

In 1980, Santa Rosa Island was included within Channel Islands National Park. The island's owners since 1902, ranchers Vail & Vickers of Santa Barbara, were opposed to inclusion of the island in the park. Vail & Vickers used the island for cattle ranching and a private hunting reserve. Vail & Vickers successfully lobbied to have the legislation stipulate that purchase of their land would be the highest priority of the Channel Islands National Park. The Vail & Vickers voluntarily sold the island in 1986 for the appraised value of nearly $30 million. The initial agreement to allow continuation of the ranching and hunting operation for three months was extended under a series of special use permits issued by the National Park Service. A lawsuit by National Parks Conservation Association in 1996 resulted in a court-approved settlement agreement which included removal of all cattle from the island and phased reduction by Vail & Vickers of the non-native deer and elk by 2011.

In 2006 U.S. Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA) introduced a provision into the annual defense policy bill that would allow disabled veterans to continue hunting elk on the island past 2011, without the consent of Vail & Vickers or the National Park Service. The provision stayed in the bill and was signed into law by President George W. Bush. This legislation was repealed by the next Congress and approved by President George W. Bush.


Munchkin Dudleya

A variety of the Torrey Pine (Pinus torreyana var. insularis) grows on the island. The population of this endangered species is estimated at approximately 1000 trees. The Island Oak (Quercus tomentella) is native to the island.

Flightless geese, giant mice and pygmy mammoths are extinct, while the island fox, spotted skunk, and munchkin dudleya (Dudleya gnoma) (one of the six endemic plant species on the island) still live there. The island is home to one of only three known populations of Hoffman's rockcress.[5]

Its surrounding waters serve as an invaluable nursery for the sea life that feeds larger marine mammals and seabirds.

The rare endemic lichen Caloplaca obamae, discovered in 2007 and described by Kerry Knudsen in 2009, commemorates United States President Barack Obama.

Images of Santa Rosa Island

External links


  1. ^ Block 3009, Block Group 3, Census Tract 29.10, Santa Barbara County United States Census Bureau
  2. ^
  3. ^ United States. District Court (California : Southern District) Land Case 56 SD
  4. ^ Report of the Surveyor General 1844 - 1886
  5. ^ Center for Plant Conservation: Boechera hoffmannii

Further reading

  • U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Survey. (1975). Bathymetric map: California, southwest of Santa Rosa Island [Scale 1:250,000 ; transverse Mercator proj. (W 140º--W 120º/N 56º--N 48º)]. Washington, D.C.: author.


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