Although I was saddened at the news that the National Park Service (NPS) has chosen to pursue Option #3 at the Channel Islands, I was certainly not surprised. I attended an information session at the Faulkner Gallery, and at this meeting, it was very apparent that although options 1 and 2 had been presented, the NPS was squarely behind the more aggressive Option #3. At the meeting, the NPS certainly heard from the people in attendance that Option 3 was by far the least palatable. Apparently, NPS was not there to take input from the local community.
Questions that still remain unanswered include: who are the people the NPS say have requested more Channel Island access? I certainly do not know one person in our area who is in favor of more people and more development at the Islands. Are we pursuing this path due to input from tourists from Cleveland? Second, with an eye-popping $62 million initial price tag (what’s the chance that comes in under budget?) and an estimated $14 million more per year in maintenance costs, how can this option even be on the table? And then comes the question of what is best for the Channel Islands and the surrounding environment.
Our Channel Islands are a national treasure. They have historically been a place of refuge, relaxation, and escape. Are we going to permit this to be permanently altered for the sake of the Manifest Destiny trajectory of the NPS? I believe that what is best for the Channel Islands is for them to be left alone in their natural state (using the Nature Conservancy’s stewardship of Santa Cruz Island as an example). I certainly do hope that there will be discussion and input (hopefully listened to by the National Park Service) prior to anything being put into action.