Southern California environment news and trends

LEAF program sends LA high school students to work (and play) on nature preserves

The Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future program,or LEAF, is coming to California for the first time. The national program that “combines classroom curriculum with real-world conservation work experiences for urban youth” will be taking 11 juniors (seven boys and four girls) from the Environmental Charter High School in Lawndale and sending them to work alongside scientists from the Nature Conservancy on nature preserves.

From July 12 through August 3, the boys are headed to Montana, while the girls will be going to Santa Cruz Island, the largest and most biodiverse of California’s Channel Islands. Among their conservation activities include monitoring and tracking indigenous endangered species (like the Island Fox), beach cleanup and restoring wildlife habitat. It’s not all work, however. The students will also partake in swimming, kayaking and hiking.

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PHOTO: Relaxing on a cliff in the Channel Islands

Monday is upon the Southland, but here’s a place outside of the hustle of a new work week. Capturing a moment where it’s always Sunday, this photo from Claire Fackler, NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries, shows the peace and tranquility found just off Southern California’s coastline. Here we see the Channel Islands National Park laid out in all its glory.

The Channel Islands, an archipelago consisting of eight islands, extends for 160 miles between San Miguel Island and San Clemente Island. Santa Catalina Island has the only permanent towns, with the city of Avalon and town of Two Harbors. The island jurisdictions are divided among three Southern California counties, including Los Angeles County, Santa Barbara County, and Ventura County.

The Channel Islands National Park is made of five islands, including Santa Cruz, Anacapa, Santa Rosa, Santa Barbara, and San Miguel. Their geographic isolation brought about their own independent evolution, much as the Galapagos Islands evolved in the equatorial Pacific. As the National Parks Service shares, “The Channel Islands and their encircling waters are home to over 2,000 plants and animals, of which 145 are found nowhere else in the world.” People have found a home on the archipelago for the past 10,000 years.

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