Southern California breaking news and trends

Edited wills and board resignations, Catalina Conservancy implodes (photos)

catalina boats

Photo by lpotatol via Flickr Creative Commons

Catalina boats.


Photo by Daniel Peckham via Flickr Creative Commons

Sky above Catalina.

catalina in the distance

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Ventura pier with a view of Catalina in the distance.


Photo by Automania/Mike via Flickr Creative Commons

Sun over Catalina.


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Photo by Automania/Mike via Flickr Creative Commons


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Jonathan Moore/Getty Images

The beach at Avalon Harbor has made Heal the Bay’s "Ten Worst Bummers” list for more than a decade thanks to ancient clay and metal pipes in the Catalina Island city’s sewage system.


scmtngirl/Flickr Creative Commons

A view from Catalina Island, looking over Avalon.

File picture dated May 17, 2008, of Aval


Avalon on Santa Catalina Island, California, from a helicopter of the Island Express company.

The L.A. Times reports three board members of the Catalina Conservancy —  a 15-member organization that manages nine-tenths of Santa Catalina Island — resigned last week, bringing the total to 10 officials and scientists who've recently jumped ship.

The departed parties point to Executive Director Ann Muscat's "controversial leadership style and differences over the direction she is taking the 40-year-old Catalina Island Conservancy." Some members are also concerned over Muscat's salary and expenses.

Muscat, a marine biologist hired a decade ago, is pushing development of new tourist attractions to bring badly needed revenue to the conservancy and the island's tourism-oriented businesses. The conservancy manages most of the island's wild lands, operating on $12 million a year from donations and earned revenue.


Natalie Wood's death certificate changed by authorities

Natalie Woods

Staff/AFP/Getty Images

American actress Natalie Wood (1938-1981), her children Natasha (C), Courtney (R), and her husband U.S. actor Robert Wagner arrive at London airport 04 July 1976. Natalie Wood's career began at age 4, when director Irving Pichel gave her a small role in "Happy Land" (1943). By 1946, age 8, she was making $1000/week. In 1950 she was the queen of fan magazines and the second biggest actress next to Elizabeth Taylor. Natalie has made 56 films fo TV and Cinema, among them "West Side Story" (1961) in which she played Maria. She married 3 times, twice to US actor Robert Wagner.

Exterior Views Of Natalie Woods' Former Boat "Splendour"

Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

Natalie Wood's former boat, The Splendour is seen docked at Keawalo Basin boat harbor on November 19, 2011 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Natalie Wood

Marxchivist (cc by-nc-nd)

Wood, the daughter of Russian Immigrants, was born Natasha Gurdin on July 20, 1938 in San Francisco, California. She got her first role at the age of four in a movie called 'Happy Land' (1943). She is most famously known for her role in "West Side Story," a film that won multiple Oscars.

American actors Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood

AFP/AFP/Getty Images

American actors Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood chat together at the Cannes Festival in May 1962.

American actress Natalie Wood poses in a

AFP/Getty Images

American actress Natalie Wood poses in a Yves Saint Laurent costume, 19 September 1964 in Paris. Wood, the daughter of Russian Immigrants, was born Natasha Gurdin on July 20, 1938 in San Francisco, California. She got her first role at the age of four in a movie called "Happy Land" (1943). She continued playing roles of young girls until the age of 17, where she landed the role of "Judy" in the film "Rebel Without a Cause" (1955). Natalie Wood married Robert Wagner 28 December 1957, divorced in 1962 and later remarried in 1972. She was nominated for two Academy Awards for her roles in "Splendor in the Grass" and "Love With a Proper Stranger". She acted in "West Side Story", a movie which won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Direction, Best Supporting Actors, Best Supporting Actress. Natalie Wood had made 56 films for Tv and the silver screen. She died drowning 29 November 1981.

The nature of Natalie Wood's demise, reclassified from "accidental" to "undetermined" in July, has been officially amended on the actress' death certificate, according to a revised document entered earlier this month.

Changes to the death certificate reflect 30-year-old questions surrounding Wood's drowning off Catalina Island in November 1981. 

How Wood got into the water, is one of the lingering questions. According to the amended document, that answer was never clearly established.

Sheriff's investigators  renewed the investigation last year, shortly before the 30th anniversary of the three-time Oscar nominee's death.

The case remains open, says LASD, noting that the coroner's office made the decision to amend the death certificate. Detectives placed a security hold on the document, and instructed coroner's officials to not discuss the case. 


Shark sneaks up on paddle boarder off Catalina coast


Photo by katymcc via Flickr Creative Commons

A shark crashed a party of paddle boarders off the coast of Catalina on Sunday morning, taking a number of bites out of a 15-year-old's board but injuring no one.

Los Angeles County Fire Department officials say the girl who encountered the shark was part of group of paddle boarders about 200 yards from the shore when the close-call occurred.

Lifeguards issued warnings to boaters, swimmers, and divers around the island following the incident. Authorities patrolling the waters have not seen the shark again.


Lisa Brenner can be reached via Twitter @lisa_brenner


Catalina Island Fox outsmarts extinction

santa catalina island fox

AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian

A Santa Catalina Island fox pup dashes into the wilderness after being released on Santa Catalina Island, CA. The Catalina Island Conservancy released 10 captive-bred pups from one breeding season in an effort to reestablish the subspecies.

The Catalina Island Fox, an omnivorous fox subspecies found only on Santa Catalina Island, has outwitted extinction in an unprecedented creature comeback.

Conservationists began a recovery program for the gray, pointed nose canid in the late 1990s following a distemper epidemic that saw the fox population plummet to a sparse population of about 100 on the 76-square-mile island. When the captive breeding program ended in 2004, the foxes were listed as endangered.

There are now 1,542 cat-sized foxes that share the island with approximately 3,200 humans and more than 1 million tourists a year, reports the L.A. Times. In the foxes' favor, no natural predators exist on the island, and plenty of food — from mice to cherries — is readily available.

It's considered one of the most successful recoveries ever for an endangered species, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.