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Santa Cruz Island Area Is Reopened

May 25, 1997

For the first time in four years, the southwest corner of Santa Cruz Island in Channel Islands National Park, 20 miles off Ventura, is open for organized tours.

Camarillo-based Channel Islands Aviation this month began making day trips from the Camarillo and Santa Barbara airports to the island's Christy Ranch. One tour features surf-fishing; the other adds a stop on Santa Rosa Island. Round-trip adult fares range from $129 to $139. Reservations: (805) 987-1301.

Visitors can hike around the former cattle ranch, which includes an 1864 adobe, and explore the island. No overnight stays are allowed. Private boaters can continue to visit, with a permit from the nonprofit Nature Conservancy, which also runs trips to other parts of the island; tel. (805) 964-7839. There's no ferry service to Christy Ranch.

The eastern end of Santa Cruz continues to be accessible via boats run by Ventura-based Island Packers Corp.; tel. (805) 642-1393. Scorpion Ranch and Smuggler's Ranch B&B, which both offered sheltered quarters for overnight visitors, were shut in February when the National Park Service seized the area after a court battle with the owner. Now 40 primitive campsites are available nearby, for free. Also as a result of the ownership change, the $15-per-person landing fee for private boaters has been eliminated.

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