2011 FEDERAL VOLUNTEER PROGRAM Channel Islands Naturalist Corps Volunteer Program

2011 FEDERAL VOLUNTEER PROGRAM Channel Islands Naturalist Corps Volunteer Program
Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and Channel Islands National Park work together to protect the Channel Islands, in Oxnard, California. Both agencies are committed to working together to leverage resources for more effective and streamlined interpretation, resource protection, maritime heritage, and research programs and the Channel Islands Naturalist Corps Volunteer program serves as a national role model for effective collaboration between NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the National Park Service.

Thousands of tourists, school children, and local residents visit the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and Channel Islands National Park annually on board whale watch vessels, marine floating classrooms, and island hikes. The Channel Islands Naturalist Corps (CINC) volunteer program reaches out educates these visitors about the culturally rich and biologically diverse resources found within the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and Channel Islands National Park. CINC volunteers play an important part in promoting sustainable use of park and sanctuary resources. CINC volunteers are specially trained by both the sanctuary and park to educate passengers, monitor agency resources, and collect natural resource information on board whale watch vessels and park concessionaire vessels. The CINC program is offered through five tour boat operators which depart out of the three major ports accessing the Channel Islands.

CINC volunteers serve as integral members of sanctuary and park interpretation programs. The program offers many opportunities for volunteers to become involved in all facets of sanctuary and park stewardship. Examples of CINC volunteer contributions include: Informal interpretation on whale watch tours; staffing island visitor centers; formal interpretation on island hikes and other park public programs; restoration programs such as removing invasive plant species and collecting important whale photo-ID data; participating in management plan reviews; attending advisory council meetings; and representing both agencies at community events and school science fairs.

CINC volunteer program is making an impact on stewardship of the Channel Islands. Over 420,000 informal contacts are made annually on whale watch trips, island hikes, and at community outreach events. Up to 30,000 hours annually of donated volunteer service (equivalent to over $600,000 of labor support and 16 FTEs). These volunteers also represent the sanctuary and park at up to 35 community events annually from Los Angeles County to Santa Barbara County. They conduct citizen science programs which contribute to the management of park and sanctuary resources such as: Cascadia Research Collective’s long term whale photo-ID study, cataloging of orca whales off the Southern California coast, Harmful Algal Bloom sampling in cooperation with the UC system and State of California, removal of invasive plant species with park restoration biologists, and support for intertidal monitoring.

There are currently over 140 volunteers in the CINC program and many have been in the program since it first started in 1996.