Southern California environment news and trends

America’s national parks plagued by pollution, budget cuts

Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

A family looks at the base of a Giant Sequoia tree that lies toppled in the Sequoia National Park.

CBS News is reporting that California’s own Sequoia National Park holds the dubious distinction as the most air polluted national park in the country. The park, which is located in the Sierra Nevada forest and home to the famous giant redwoods, had the highest smog levels and most recorded violations over last year.

The heightened ozone levels at Sequoia are not just dangerous to humans, but the forest as well. According to the Associated Press, redwood seedlings and both Jeffrey and ponderosa pines are significantly stressed by the pollution.

Four California state parks were among the nation’s top seven most air polluted, including Joshua Tree, Yosemite and Mojave National Preserve. This information comes from the U.S. Park Service and the EPA at a time when national parks are suffering through significant budget cuts that park-goers are likely to feel this year.


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.