As Channel Islands National park celebrates it’s 39th anniversary, let’s take a step back in time to learn about the national park’s history and how it came to be.
Channel Islands National Park is made of five main islands—Anacapa Island, Santa Cruz Island, Santa Rosa Island, San Miguel Island, and Santa Barbara Island—just off the coast of Southern California. With an abundance of rich and untouched landscapes, it quickly became an interest to scientists. Due to the special interests, it became apparent that it must be preserved so future generations could also enjoy it.
In 1937, a biologist, Theodore D. A. Cockerell, began collecting specimens for research and published articles to explain the importance of the islands. He realized the special species of plants and animals and this caught the attention of the National Park Service (NPS). They soon after asked for national monument status of the Anacapa Islands. In 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a proclamation that warranted preservation to the Anacapa and Santa Barbara Islands, making them known as the Channel Islands National Monument.
As time passed, President Truman and President Kennedy added to the proclamation by increasing acreage, extending the seashore and shoreline areas, and attempting to preserve the underwater life. Eventually, this proclamation turned into a bill to establish the Channel Islands and Santa Monica Mountains National Park. However, these first few bills did not pass.
It wasn’t until 1979 when Congressman Robert J. Lagomarino introduced a bill for the Channel Islands National Park. This included the former Channel Islands National Monument and added the Santa Rosa Island, Santa Cruz Island, and San Miguel Island. The bill passed in the summer and the Senate approved it in the fall. President Jimmy Carter signed the legislation the following year:
“In order to protect the nationally significant natural, scenic, wildlife, marine, ecological, archeological, cultural, and scientific values of the Channel Islands in the State of California… there is hereby established the Channel Islands National Park.” – Public Law 96-199, signed by President Jimmy Carter on March 5, 1980.
These islands are under the ownership of the U.S. Navy and are managed by the NPS. Now with its National Park status, the Channel Islands are a retreat for many visitors to hike, snorkel, kayak, bird watch, and whale watch. Because of its close proximity off the coast of Oxnard, we recommend packing a lunch and enjoying a hike with breathtaking views.