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Exploring Channel Islands Park Responsibly

If you are planning on taking one of Santa Barbara Adventure Company’s trips to the Channel Islands National Park or if you are heading out there on your own, it is a great idea to familiarize yourself with the seven Leave No Trace (LNT) principles. LNT has developed guiding principles to help people enjoy the outdoors and public lands responsibly.   Santa Barbara Adventure Company is a proud partner of LNT and we follow the seven principles below on all of our tours, including those outside of the Park.

trash pick up - Channel Islands

The National Parks Service also endorses the LNT principles and many of the local regulations at the Channel Islands National Park are complimentary to the LNT ethics. Below are highlights of the seven LNT principles and some tips specific to the Channel Islands National Park that will help you follow them. For more information you can visit the LNT Website and even take one of their free courses.

The Seven Leave No Trace Principles* at the Channel Islands National Park:

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you’ll visit: If you are taking our Sea Cave Kayak Tour, we will brief you on the local regulations when you arrive at Santa Cruz Island. If you are visiting on your own, it’s a good idea to read the local NPS regulations.

Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies: The islands are isolated and weather is variable year round. You should bring plenty of warm clothes, food and water. Santa Barbara Adventure Company will bring first aid, rescue and communications equipment with us on every trip and all of our guides are trained in first aid, rescue and emergency response.

2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

If you are joining one of our popular Kayak and Camp Adventures we will send you some information to help you with your packing and planning. You can read helpful information for preparing for your Channel Islands trip on our website.

Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary: If you are staying overnight, stick to the designated campsite. No backcountry camping is allowed on Santa Cruz Island.

When hiking, concentrate use on existing trails: Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy. Always stay on the trail, especially along the scenic cliffs – the rocks are unstable and many of the cliffs are undercut.

3. Dispose of Waste Properly

Pack it in, pack it out: There is no trash service on the islands! You must take all trash back to the mainland. Bring an extra plastic bag or container to store it in.

Don’t let the foxes and ravens get into your trash: Don’t leave your backpack or trash unattended or the ravens and foxes will get into it. The foxes are sneaky and not shy and the ravens are incredibly smart! We have seen them work together to unzip backpacks. One Christmas Eve we even saw the raven open a camper’s duffel bag, pull out their Christmas presents and unwrap them!

Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods: The animals will feed on any food scraps, however small. This can not only make them sick (eating candy or chocolate, for example), the foxes become reliant on scraps during the summer and can starve during the winter when there are less visitors!

Strain your dishwater and broadcast dishwater over a large area.

Only use the provided restroom facilities.

4. Leave What You Find

Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them: Everything within the park is protected! Leave it for the next person to enjoy.

Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species: There are many endemic plant and animal species that are vulnerable to mainland diseases or could be pushed out by non-natives. Inspect all camping gear and footwear to make sure it is clean before coming out to the Islands.

 5. Minimize Campfire Impacts

Campfires and smoking is not allowed on Santa Cruz Island.

6. Respect Wildlife

Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them: During our kayak tours we are very cautious of disturbing wildlife. All of the pinnipeds and nesting seabirds are protected by various laws and we will coach you on how to view them without disturbing them. The quieter and calmer we are, the more likely we are to have the wildlife stick around. Occasionally we will even have a curious seal or sea lion follow us and swim under our kayaks.

Never feed animals: this includes unintentionally by leaving food scraps.

Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely: keep it tightly locked in your backpack or in a storage box. We have a lockable box for you to use while we are out on the kayak tour.

Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: During winter and spring at Santa Cruz Island we see a lot of sea bird nesting activity in and around the caves. Your guide will take extra care not to disturb any birds. If you get to close, the adult birds will leave their nest which allows less shy birds like seagulls and ravens to come in and eat the eggs.

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience: Most of us go out to the Channel Islands to relax and enjoy the wilderness so let’s keep it enjoyable for everyone.

Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail

Let nature’s sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises: Listen carefully in the late afternoon and you will hear the foxes yelping, the sea lions barking and the scrub jays chattering away.

Thank you for taking the time to get familiar with the Leave No Trace principles. We hope you enjoy your time at the park!

*The member-driven Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics teaches people how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly. This copyrighted information has been reprinted with permission from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.

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