Restoring Nature


Restoring Nature

The Evolution of Channel Islands National Park

Lary M. Dilsaver and Timothy J. Babalis

America’s Public Lands Series

426 pages
32 photographs, 1 illustration, 15 maps, 2 charts, index


January 2023


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January 2023


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eBook (PDF)

January 2023


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eBook (EPUB)

January 2023


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About the Book

Off the coast of California, running from Santa Barbara to La Jolla, lies an archipelago of eight islands known as the California Channel Islands. The northern five were designated as Channel Islands National Park in 1980 to protect and restore the rich habitat of the islands and surrounding waters.

In the years since, that mission intensified as scientists discovered the extent of damage to the delicate habitats of these small fragments of land and to the surprisingly threatened sea around them. In Restoring Nature Lary M. Dilsaver and Timothy J. Babalis examine how the National Park Service has attempted to reestablish native wildlife and vegetation to the five islands through restorative ecology and public land management. The Channel Islands staff were innovators of the inventory and monitoring program whereby the resource problems were exposed. This program became a blueprint for management throughout the U.S. park system.

Dilsaver and Babalis present an innovative regional and environmental history of a little-known corner of the Pacific West, as well as a larger national narrative about how the Park Service developed its approach to restoration ecology, which became a template for broader Park Service policies that shaped the next generation of environmental conservation.

Author Bio

Lary M. Dilsaver is a professor emeritus of geography at University of South Alabama. He is the author of Preserving the Desert: A History of Joshua Tree National Park, among other books. Timothy J. Babalis is a historian and cultural resources program manager at Pinnacles National Park in central California. He is the author of numerous publications for the National Park Service on a variety of topics.


“An outstanding environmental history of a little-studied area of enormous complexity on the doorstep of one of the most densely populated parts of North America. It will become the standard reference for the region and the National Park Service policies that shaped it for the next generation.”—William Wyckoff, author of How to Read the American West: A Field Guide

“I know of no other book that examines rigorously the effects of National Park Service policies in the Channel Islands. All of the material in Restoring Nature is handled in a balanced, fair-minded manner. . . . Critically important, where possible the authors have woven fact-laden, scientific material into an engaging narrative.”—Thomas J. Osborne, author of Coastal Sage: Peter Douglas and the Fight to Save California’s Shore

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Maps
1. The Channel Islands of California
2. A Monumental Task
3. Legislative Protection for the Islands and the Sea
4. Resource Management in the Early Years
5. Building the New Park
6. Growth of the Natural Resource Management
7. Managing the Resources on Santa Rosa Island
8. New Owners on Santa Cruz Island
9. Restoring Nature
10. Channel Islands National Park in the New Century

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