CI Santa Rosa Island Research Station:

On November 1, 2012 Channel Islands National Park granted CI a special use permit to create and develop the CI Santa Rosa Island Research Station (SRIRS). CI and the National Park Service (NPS) immediately began improving the existing physical infrastructure and, in collaboration with a wide variety of community partners, developed a strategic plan to provide and support future research, education, and outreach activities. The research station facilities can accommodate up to 36 individuals and provide physical and logistical support for a variety of activities.   

A bunkhouse in Santa Rosa Island

Island Description

Haily Gonzalez, Creative Writing student reflects on her hike through Cherry Canyon on Santa Rosa Island in September 2017. 

“Have you ever felt something so deeply that it resonates in your chest? You heard something, felt it, maybe you even saw it. It resonates so deeply you can tell you gained something, like somehow there is more to you. This type of experience is so rare that you’re lucky to come across a handful of them. Somehow what I experienced while on the island was something more. Seeing life, beauty, and nature all in different forms was like seeing nature for the first time. There was green and lavender lichen growing in between acorn barnacles from years ago. This land had been transformed, transfigured, and taken for so many things over thousands of years. Walking silently through those grounds, I knew that the land was taking something of me too. She was taking part of me, a little piece, small enough not to miss yet big enough to know that it was gone. I certainly didn’t mind leaving a small piece of myself there even if I had a choice. Leaving a piece of myself on an island that gave so much still somehow feels like a gift.”                                                                                       

Santa Rosa Island is one of the five islands comprising Channel Islands National Park. The island lies 27 miles (44 km) south of the mainland and is located approximately 46 miles (74 km) from the Park Headquarters at the Ventura Harbor. The island contains significant natural and cultural resources , which include threatened and endangered plants and animals, fragile and irreplaceable archaeological resources (including burials), and important geological and paleontological specimens. Santa Rosa Island, the second largest of the Channel Islands, measures about 10 by 15 miles (16 by 24 km) and is 84 square miles (217 km2) in area.  Three miles (5 km) separate Santa Rosa Island from San Miguel Island to the west and Santa Cruz Island lies 5 miles (9 km) to the east. The western part of Santa Rosa Island is low and sandy, closely resembling San Miguel Island. The eastern half is topographically diverse, with gently rolling hills cut by deep canyons, rising in the central part of the island to a group of rounded peaks over 1500 ft (457 m) in elevation (Schoenherr et al. 1999, Natural History of the Islands of California). For more information about Santa Rosa Island geology and topography, please visit the Geologic Maps Foundation website

History of Santa Rosa Island

Santa Rosa Island’s rich natural and cultural history provides unparalleled opportunities for researchers and educators. Although the earliest date of human arrival on the Northern Channel Islands is not known with certainty, radiocarbon dating places humans on Santa Rosa Island for more than 13,000 years. Santa Rosa Island was home to the Chumash until approximately 1820, resulting in thousands of significant and federally protected archeological sites throughout the island. In addition to the native Chumash, European explorers, Aleut sea otter hunters, Chinese abalone fisherman, Spanish missionaries, Mexican and American Ranchers, and the US military have all occupied Santa Rosa Island. Access to Santa Rosa Island was limited until the National Park Service purchased the island in 1986. As a member of the Channel Islands National Park, and now with the establishment of the CI Santa Rosa Island Research Station, many aspects of the island’s unique ecology, archaeology, and geology are currently the subject of innovative research projects and educational curriculum.