Monday, November 14, 2011

End of an era: Park Service takes over cattle ranch on Santa Rosa Island - video

Ranch once ran 8,000 head of cattle
The cattle grazing on grass-covered hills that tilt toward the Pacific Ocean are long gone. So are the vaqueros who rose at "dark thirty" to round up the cattle while the glowing red embers of their hand-rolled cigarettes pierced the night. Soon, the nonnative deer and elk that wander through the craggy valleys of Santa Rosa Island will be a thing of the past, too. Although Will Woolley is still there, he knows his family's time on the island also is limited. "We are living the last days," said Woolley as a hard wind blew across the island. "It feels like a death in the family. This has been much harder than I anticipated." For 25 years he has known Jan. 1, 2012, was coming — the day his family, the Vails, will no longer live on the island and Channel Islands National Park will take control of it. The Park Service bought the roughly 83-square-mile island 26 miles off the Santa Barbara coast for $30 million in 1986. But the Vail & Vickers operation was allowed to remain on the ranch. Through lawsuits and settlements, the cattle ranching eventually was phased out, and the deer and elk are being eradicated. These days, the families are moving on, too, packing up memories and heirlooms and looking around their home one last time. "It's a sad time," said Nita Vail, 54, who spent much of her child hood on the island. Her dad managed the cattle that would come from the mainland in the winter and leave fattened up two springs later...more




7 comments:

SLWilmeth said...

This whole thing makes me sick. The tragedy of the destruction of the ranching heritage on the central California Coast will be punctuated with the implementation of Park Service 'values' on Santa Rosa Island. Gone will be the vaqueros whose human touch maintained the waters and the infrastructure. Gone will be the responsibilities that manifested themselves in health of the island turf, wildlife, and livestock. Gone will be the character of the contents of the tack rooms and the conversations around kitchen tables of folks tied to the land. Gone . . . and in its place will be the Park Service. Makes me sick . . .

Tick said...

It makes me very sad. I spent much of my youth in California before returning to my roots. The Central Coast was a glorious place to be enjoyed by all. Now it's protected land for sea lions, lizards, minnows and weirdos.

My father who migrated to California after Korea, raised us near Long Beach and then retired and was buried on the central coast is weeping in his grave.

When I returned to Texas as a young adult I only looked back once and that was to bury him.

Anonymous said...

Good thing about the park service is that they will preserve the ranching history through education and interpretive displays for the public. It's now everyone's land and can enjoy the ranching history as well as the natural landscape. The island is sensitive habitat for rare species of plants and animals, and I'm glad a small portion is being protected since so much land has been dominated on the mainland.

Anonymous said...

Tick you need help........

Tick said...

In what respect Anonymous? My writing skills?

Emily Allen said...

This was my island. I'm part of the ranching family that once owned this magical land my great great grandfather bough it . I spent every one of my summers till I was fourteen(because that is when it expired) on the island learning about the natural world the Native American tribes who lived here. My mother used to come as a kid when it was still a ranch and told me stories. I miss it so much and wish that I could have it forever!

Frank DuBois said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. Sad but appreciated.