Weeds Threaten Santa Rosa Island
* Recently, Channel Islands National Park has become concerned that a weed “explosion” will occur when livestock are removed from Santa Rosa Island. Many weed experts who have studied the island question this premise. Whether or not a weed “explosion” occurs, the fact is that weeds are on the island now, and some level of weed problems will continue, whether livestock are present or not.
We agree that weed problems need to be addressed. However, the park’s proposed management plan would do little to control weeds, now or in the future. What is needed on Santa Rosa are surveys to locate current weed problems and to predict probable future problems.
Problem areas should then be monitored and any weed outbreaks eradicated. Many eradication methods are available. California Native Plant Society volunteers and others fight weeds effectively all over the state.
Despite its stated concern regarding weeds, the park has refused to propose or commit to any adequate weed monitoring or management program.
It is important to remember that livestock spread weeds and they create ideal environmental conditions for weed infestation. Moreover, as the park’s own studies document, livestock have also caused serious damage to streams, wildlife and native plants on Santa Rosa. Therefore, they must be removed from the island, except, perhaps, for a small historical area. Santa Rosa Island is a national park for which the taxpayers paid $30 million, not a private ranch.
Yes, we need to control weeds on Santa Rosa. We also need to restore native plant and animal communities and streams. The tools are available now to do these things. It is time for the park to use them.
EMILY ROBERSON, PhD
Senior land management analyst,
California Native Plant Society