Catalina Island Conservancy News A monthly recap of the latest happenings with the Catalina Island Conservancy, the Channel Islands, and island conservation from across the globe

december 2016

safeguarding a species

Catalina Island Conservancy Biologists Wrap-Up Another Successful Season of Fox Trapping

You don't notice them until you do...bright pink ribbons that dot the roadsides every few hundred yards or so. They start to appear in the Fall; each ribbon carefully tied off to piece of branch, blowing gently in the breeze for a few days before disappearing, only to reappear in another part of the Island the following week. It's fox trapping season on Catalina and each ribbon marks the location of a trap.

In 1999, an outbreak of canine distemper spread quickly among Catalina's island fox population. In less than a year's time, their numbers plummeted from over 1,600 to less than one hundred. In response, the Catalina Island Conservancy and its partner, the Institute for Wildlife Studies, began aggressive efforts to save the remaining foxes. With the permission of California Department of Fish & Wildlife, the groups began testing an experimental vaccine on the foxes. The the results were encouraging; the vaccine proved effective and the fox population stabilized. Today, Catalina Island fox population now stands at over 1,800 animals. Their recovery is considered one of the most successful wildlife management efforts since the Endangered Species Act was established in 1973.

Julie King, Catalina Island Conservancy's director of conservation and wildlife management, inspects the ear canal of a young fox. Photo: Catalina Island Conservancy

Catalina Island Conservancy biologists now trap and inoculate several hundred foxes annually. This helps reduce the likelihood of any future outbreaks from spreading. Captured foxes are also given a full medical work-up, including bloodwork, weight, a tooth and ear check, and treatment for lice (if applicable) before being released back into the wild.

The Catalina Island Conservancy's island fox recovery efforts will be the focus of an upcoming episode of Conservancy TV. You can watch the trailer below.

insidious invasive

Sargassum horneri Continues to Threaten Southern California's Coastal Waters

Marine researchers and local environmental groups are continuing to sound alarm bells about Sargassum horneri - an invasive algae that is continuing to proliferate in the waters off Catalina Island, Palos Verdes and elsewhere.

There are over 300 different species of sargassum, a type of brown algae. Sargassum horneri, sometimes referred to as "devil weed," is a species indigenous to Japan and Korea. It is believed to have been introduced to Long Beach Harbor in 2003, via ballast discharge from commercial shipping vessels.

Over 2,000 vessels and 165 million metric tons of cargo arrive in the Port of Los Angeles annually. Photo: Port of Los Angeles

As is the case with many invasive species, the principal concern is S. horneri's out-competing native species. "On Catalina’s leeward side, it grows so thick it out-competes the native algae for substrate, light, and nutrients," says Dr. Bill Bushing, a marine researcher and former Catalina Island Conservancy staff member. "Biodiversity at these sites plummets."

This illustration shows the spread of S. horneri between 2006 and 2015. It is now found throughout the coastal waters of Southern California and Baja. Image:

Julia Parish, who heads up the Conservancy's Catalina Habitat Improvement and Restoration Program (CHIRP) agrees.

"Invasive species are one of the principle causes of biodiversity loss worldwide, and certain a top concern here on Catalina Island." says Parish. "Our crews are out removing various terrestrial invasives, such as flax-leaf broom, fennel and pampas nearly every day. It's a constant battle."

Sargassum has also been shown to have devastating impacts on human activities, such as boating, tourism and fishing. Kenya, Sierra Leone, Barbados, Cancun, New Zealand and even Galviston, Texas have all faced challenges from outbreaks of sargassum.

Even in areas where sargassum is naturally occuring, it can be problematic. A surfer struggles to steer through a sargassum-choked surf break in New Zealand. Photo: Zed Layson

Meanwhile, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has recently partnered with the University of Santa Barbara and Los Angeles Waterkeeper to launch a new sargassum abatement effort along the Southern California coastline.

Catalina Island Conservancy Welcomes new chief Development officer

Bringing extensive experience in business and nonprofit organizations, Suzy Gardner has joined the Catalina Island Conservancy as its new chief development officer. She will oversee the nonprofit organization’s fundraising, communications, marketing and membership programs as well as its events and other development functions.

“Her visionary leadership and demonstrated development success make Suzy a great addition to our leadership team,” said Tony Budrovich, Conservancy president and CEO. “She is a skilled professional who can help ensure the Conservancy continues to thrive, draws new visitors to the Island and attracts even more support for its mission.”

Gardner said her new position at the Conservancy will enable her to combine her passion for nature and nature-based recreation with her professional skills in development. Having grown up on the lakes around New Orleans, LA, she said she is looking forward to spending more time exploring the Island and supporting its mission of being a responsible steward of its lands through a balance of conservation, education and recreation.

“I’m incredibly excited to use my professional skills to support the great work being done by the Conservancy team,” Gardner said. “Protecting and restoring Catalina’s unique wildlands and wildlife is vital. So is educating today’s youth about the Island because they are the future for Catalina and for all the special places needing protection around the world.”

Gardner has more than 15 years of development experience and holds degrees in accounting and psychology, as well as a master’s degree in nonprofit management. She has a great love of the outdoors, hiking, the ocean, hills, plants and animals of Catalina, all of which make her ideally suited for the Conservancy’s development support role.

Gardner moved from Boulder, CO, to California in January to serve as director of development and communications for Project Hope Alliance, helping to advance support for the mission of ending intergenerational homelessness in Orange County. In Boulder, she had served as director of development and communications at Emergency Family Assistance Association, leading her team in significantly increasing individual, business and foundation giving, as well as raising capital funding for new transitional housing units.

She previously served as development director at Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center, where she advanced fundraising revenue, produced a new annual fundraising event and developed and implemented major gifts and gift planning programs.

Gardner also served as a development and major gifts officer at Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Professions at Regis University in Denver and as a development assistant at Mental Health Partners in Boulder. In addition, she assisted in the launch of a new Colorado nonprofit, Collegiate Crossings, where she completed a term as board president.

Prior to her nonprofit leadership, she had worked in the for-profit world, as a certified purchasing manager first for Pellerin Milnor Corporation in Louisiana and then for Plexus Corporation in Wisconsin, where she led a procurement team that purchased electronic components for the technology group.

island trivia: has it ever snowed on catalina island?

IT HAS! Catalina Island has recorded Measurable snowfall at least twice; once in 1932, and again in 1942. the 1942 storm produced enough snow for local kids to have a snowball fight. Photo: Catalina Island Museum Collections

the benefits of giving

Time is Running Out to Make Your 2016 Charitable Gift

Without question, most people who donate to charities do so out of a desire to support a cause or need. However, there can also be financial benefits to charitable giving as well. A gift to a qualified charitable organization may entitle you to a charitable contribution deduction against your income tax if you itemize deductions.

According to John Hewitt, CEO of Liberty Tax Service, there are a few things that taxpayers can do to maximize their charitable deductions. For example, taxpayers can deduct your mileage or actual costs of transportation to and from charitable events (for you Conservancy Ball attendees, this may* include your ferry tickets to and from Catalina Island).

The United States leads the world in charitable giving, donating an estimated $353 billion in 2015, according to the National Philanthropic Trust.

Hewitt also recommends that taxpayers who are 70 years and older consider making tax-free charitable distributions from their IRAs.

"This can work to your advantage in a couple of ways, saving you more than a regular donation," says Hewitt. "First, IRA distributions for charitable giving aren't included in your income, effectively lowering your adjusted gross income. Secondly, the distribution to your favorite charity still counts toward satisfying your required minimum distribution."

Another way to benefit is planned giving. From retirement plans, revocable trusts, gift annuities, and charitable trusts, to securities, and real estate, planned giving not only benefit the charity, but can offer substantial tax advantages . For more information on setting up planned gift with the Catalina Island Conservancy, contact Thomas Chang.

In order for a donation to qualify for a tax-deduction it must be made during the year in which the taxpayer is filing. That means that your charitable gift must be either made online 11:59 pm EST/8:59 PST on Friday, December 30th, or postmarked by December 31st.

*Please consult with your tax advisor to determine whether your charitable contributions are tax deductible in whole or in part. Nothing in this communication is intended to constitute legal or tax advice.

Catalina Island Conservancy Partners with Youth Groups to Enhance Island's Trail Network

As part of its Trekking Catalina initiative, the Catalina Island Conservancy has partnered with the Conservation Corps of Long Beach (CCLB). The CCLB brings together at-risk youth, ages 18-25 from the greater Long Beach area to work on projects benefiting local cities, county agencies, businesses and nonprofit organizations.

The CCLB are providing 10 youth workers, along with supervisory staff. The youth are being housed at the Laura Stein Volunteer Camp while on the island, and will be living and working alongside volunteers from the Student Conservation Association, a national organization who work with students across the country to foster environmental stewardship and create future conservation leaders. Together, the youths will be working to establish over 26 miles of new hiking trail on Catalina Island.

"It has been such a great pleasure working with the Student Conservation Association and the Conservation Corps of Long Beach," says Kelly Stone, director of facilities for the Catalina Island Conservancy. "Their enthusiasm, professionalism and energy is contagious. I am eager to see the new trails open so all can enjoy their hard work and talent."

Youth workers from the Conservation Corps of Long Beach and the Student Conservation Alliance will be on the island for the next several months.

The money to fund CCLB workers is part of a $1.5 million Trekking Catalina grant that was secured through Proposition A and the Los Angeles County Regional Park and Open Space District, thanks to the efforts of retired 4th District Supervisor Don Knabe.

"The partnership between the Catalina Island Conservancy and CCLB has a potential to be a life changing opportunity," says Cynthia Fogg, administrative manager for the Catalina Island Conservancy and former youth services coordinator for the City of Long Beach.


One of the most cited is the satisfaction of supporting a worthy organization dedicated to restoring and protecting Catalina Island's wildlands. Your membership helps save animal species on the verge of extinction and maintain unique habitats for all to enjoy. As a member, you'll receive free entry into Catalina Island Conservancy attractions like the Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden, as well as a complimentary bike permit, that provides you access to over 200 miles of paved and unpaved road. You will also receive discounts on other Conservancy attractions and services such as our popular Jeep® Eco Tours and Wildlands Express shuttle, as well as a host of local restaurants and business.

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