Growing Solutions Restoration Education Institute


2019 Update From Don and Karen

Easter Island

By Karen Flagg

Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.‑Chief Seattle

As an adult I’ve always felt Easter baskets, the bunny, colored eggs – while fun for the kids – was a rather peculiar tradition. Until our trip to Santa Rosa Island over the Easter Weekend…

Superbloom was an understatement! As we hiked towards Carrington Point, we worked our way along the trail through swales, up to the hilltops with fantastic views of the Santa Barbara Channel in full spring-time wind-whipped white capped turbulence. The wildflowers were stunning against this dramatic backdrop, patches of plants producing dramatic swatches of color; delicate pinks to bold reds, yellows bright and golden. The lupine with its silver leaves and translucent blue flowers produced an aura of blue light as we passed by. It was as if we humans had suddenly shrunk in size and were in the Easter basket amongst colored eggs and candy. What a treat!

Don and myself as educators‑ teaching about healthy habitats and sustainability‑—were pleased to see our current crop of SBCC students’ delight at the abundance of native plants in full glory, while at the same time recognizing the invasiveness of the weedy grasses left from a century of cattle grazing. Due to a century of overgrazing by the previous owners large parts of the island are highly degraded, in some places the soil erosion has been five feet. Old oaks with exposed roots look like they are perched on stilts. In other places the non-native grass is so pervasive it has changed the soil chemistry by favoring itself to the detriment of the native species.

Every good farmer knows that they are really farming the soil – no matter what they are growing to do otherwise is only inviting disaster. Restoration ecologists know this too. Healthy soil is the key to heathy systems. Loss of live viable soil causes disasters… we only have to look back to the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s for one example.

While in places the recovery is dramatic, and we appreciate the resilience of nature to heal itself, other areas on the island may not recover without a concerted intervention and effort. This is where education really comes in, Thomas Jefferson recognized the value of an “informed citizenry”

We encourage everyone to educate themselves, to that end we have listed some suggested readings. Click away!

(Thanks to our ace student Holly Huff for use of her photos, and to our awesome host and guide Aspen Coty from Cal State Channel Islands )

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