Montecito Magazine Spring 2019

MontecitoMag.com 59 SANTA BARBARA CERTIFIED FARMERS MARKET 7 Markets n 6 Days a Week Rain or Shine sbfarmersmarket.org 805 . 962 . 5354 the island. We had to gather cattle there first in the year when the grass lost its nutrition as it turned from green to brown. Th north side flatlands amount to about 2/3 of the island’s area and is cloaked in fog later into the year allowing tremen- dous feed growth in good years on which to graze the cattle. Th west end is as isolated as you can get with nothing but the wide Pacific Ocean between you and Asia. And the ranch headquarters on the eastern shore, just across the pond from Santa Bar- bara. I say pond, but it was a world away from the mainland. “As a boy, and like the rest of my family, I never thought I would do anything else but work the island. It was a hell of a place to grow up and not many kids get to grow up like that anymore. We were all made better for the experience of working and playing there. I think the best things I remem- ber about Santa Rosa Island all have to do with the people I was lucky to be with in the Channel Island community. I never forget them.” Other locals who spent a great deal of time on the island include Pete and Karen Healey, whose rel- atives worked there during the ranching era. Pete’s uncle, Bill Wallace, was the foreman of the ranch for over 30 years, and Pete started going out to visit and help at age 12. Karen’s grandfather started working there in 1914. Her father was born on the island and lived there a good portion of his life. “Being a kid on the Island was better than going to Disneyland,” says Pete. “Th re was so much to do. At that time there were elk, deer and wild pigs, hundreds of foxes. We went hunting, fishing, hiking, played on the beach, and if we got lucky, we got to help the cowboys gather cattle.” Pete adds, “Th Island was unique because it was so pristine, it was also an extremely well-managed cattle ranch. We still go out twice a year to trim the feet on the last two horses from the ranching days. When they die it will be the end of livestock on the Island since 1843.” Looking back on the many years her extended family owned the island, Nita Vail captures the essence of the era. “We were privileged to know Santa Rosa Island so intimately and it influenced many of my family members in their career choices (veterinarian, rancher, immigration attorney and conservationist) and we were taught about the responsibility of stewardship and taking care of the land. It is my hope that the Channel Islands National Park Service under new leadership will truly honor the history of the island—from the mystical Chu- mash to the pioneering ranchers—and provide the public a wonderful balanced experience.” u For more information on Santa Rosa Island, including transportation via Island Packers and Channel Islands Aviation, visit nps.gov/chis.

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