A project lead by Dr. Kathryn McEachern of the Western Ecological Research Center to restore a cloud forest on Santa Rosa Island in the Channel Islands National Park is a beautiful example of how collaboration of hundreds of concerned people can make a difference in accomplishing a vision. In the 1800s, much of the vegetation was lost from the high ridges of Santa Rosa Island, including the could forests that supported endemic island oaks and manzanitas. What is a cloud forest and why does it need to be restored? Plants in a cloud forest harvest fog to provide water needed for growth and groundwater. Plants on the Channel Islands typically see very little rain, so they are sustained by moisture harvested from fog. Healthy cloud forests mean healthy vegetation with roots that slow erosion, a seedbed for seedlings to thrive and fog drip soaking into the ground. Recovery of the cloud forest is a slow process and those involved have a united vision of a revegetated landscape which will effectively capture the daily fog that rolls across the currently barren uplands. The work done today will pay off years into the future. Collaboration of expertise from scientists, surveyors, civil engineers, organizers, project managers, arborists, master gardeners, park rangers, students, interns, teachers and professors all make this process possible. On display at the Channel Islands National Park Visitor Center for the next several months is a gallery exhibit of the USGS lead Cloud Forest restoration produced in collaboration with the Brooks Institute of Photojournalism.
More information on this project can be found on the NPS website: https://www.nps.gov/chis/learn/nature/cloud-forest.htm