Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsOpinion

Editorial

Conservancy's vision for Catalina

It is considering ambitious proposals that would enhance the tourist experience on the island.

April 19, 2012
  • A plan called "Imagine Catalina," which the conservancy's president and chief executive, Ann Muscat, emphasizes is only a conceptual blueprint, recommends an upgraded botanic garden and nature center and the construction of a tram that would offer a scenic and educational ride partway across the island to one of the higher outlooks.
A plan called "Imagine Catalina," which the conservancy's… (Los Angeles Times )

The Catalina Island Conservancy has accomplished the rare feat of encouraging tourism and, at the same time, preserving wildlands on the most visited of the Channel Islands archipelago off the coast of Southern California. The conservancy, endowed 40 years ago, handles a million visitors a year while protecting animals and plants and bringing back from the brink of extinction a unique island fox.

Now it is considering ambitious proposals that would enhance the tourist experience, partly to generate increased revenue for preservation but, more important, to pique people's interest in becoming ongoing members of the conservancy. The hope is that they would return as eco-tourists and volunteers, not just partyers looking for cold beer in Avalon, the seaside town where visitors throng.

A plan called "Imagine Catalina," which the conservancy's president and chief executive, Ann Muscat, emphasizes is only a conceptual blueprint, recommends an upgraded botanic garden and nature center and the construction of a tram that would offer a scenic and educational ride partway across the island to one of the higher outlooks.

Scientists who work on the island have voiced concern that in the effort to build new attractions, the conservancy might get distracted from its core mission of conservation. However, recreation and education are also part of the mission. The question is how to accomplish those goals — and protect the island — while ensuring that the conservancy has the funds to do so.

Everyone agrees that the scientific field station in the wild interior is dilapidated and needs significant renovation and expansion. With the help of an anonymous seven-figure donation, the conservancy has already bought a 14-room hotel on the island that will be used for much-needed housing for researchers, eco-tourists and interns.

No one is suggesting building the Grove at Catalina. But there's nothing wrong with the conservancy being creative with tourist programs near the shore and — carefully — guiding people into the interior. The more visitors are intrigued about animal and plant life on Catalina, the more they will want to support the conservancy's mission. But all recreation has an impact on the delicate island. And we would urge the conservancy to prioritize science and preservation as it envisions the island's future.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|