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May 2, 2013 | By Steve Chawkins, This post has been corrected. See below for details.
Dozens of evacuees clustered in small groups around the sanctuary of Camarillo's Calvary Nexus church. Some were picking at paper plates of ziti with meat sauce that had been doled out by American Red Cross volunteers. Most couldn't take their eyes off the stadium-size TV screen at the front of the room, with its nonstop TV news coverage of the blaze that had driven them out. Most were students from Cal State Channel Islands, where fierce winds had driven the flames uncomfortably close to the campus.
April 2, 2013 | By Tony Perry
SAN DIEGO -- The Coast Guard recovered 3.3 tons of marijuana off Southern California when smugglers tossed 245 bales overboard after their boat was spotted, the Coast Guard said Tuesday. The 210-foot cutter Alert recovered the bales early Sunday about 90 miles west of San Nicolas Island. The smugglers' boat made a U-turn and sped back to Mexican waters, as the Coast Guard notified the Mexican navy, officials said. The Alert, from its homeport in Astoria, Ore., was on anti-smuggling duty off Southern California when the smugglers' boat was spotted about 1:30 a.m.  The smugglers had been located by a Sacramento-based Coast Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft.
October 29, 2012 | By Steve Chawkins, Los Angeles Times
The yellowing government survey map of San Nicolas Island dated from 1879, but it was quite clear: There was a big black dot on the southwest coast and, next to it, the words "Indian Cave. " For more than 20 years, Navy archaeologist Steve Schwartz searched for that cave. It was believed to be home to the island's most famous inhabitant, a Native American woman who survived on the island for 18 years, abandoned and alone, and became the inspiration for "Island of the Blue Dolphins," one of the 20th century's most popular novels for young readers.
September 16, 2012 | By Hector Tobar
San Miguel A Novel T.C. Boyle Viking: 367 pp., $27.95 T.C. Boyle's new novel, "San Miguel," is written to the natural rhythms of a distant, isolated place, and to the human rhythms of tormented souls. San Miguel Island is a real place, the westernmost of the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California. In Boyle's book, it's a patch of earth beyond the end of the western frontier, a place where the mythical western ethos makes its last stand. "Terra incognita," one of his characters calls it. "Terra insolita … the last scrap of land the continent had to offer, an island tossed out in the ocean like an afterthought.
May 13, 2012 | By Ryan Ritchie, Special to the Los Angeles Times
Ask a Venturan and he or she will tell you that the city is both the end of Southern California and the beginning of the central part of the state. With a gorgeous coastline, an affinity for agriculture, a happening night life and a healthy enthusiasm for all things vino, this duality isn't just a clever marketing campaign - it's the real deal. The bed. The 76 rooms at Best Western Plus Inn of Ventura (708 E. Thompson Blvd.; [805] 648-3101,, doubles from $85.49 in spring)
April 19, 2012
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.
November 28, 2011 | By Steve Chawkins, Los Angeles Times
For the family that once owned Santa Rosa Island, it was part Zane Grey, part "Robinson Crusoe. " Generations of Vail cousins would arrive from the mainland and take refuge for months at a time. They would explore places with pirate-map names: Skull Gulch, Abalone Rocks, China Camp. They were city kids, but they rode with the island's cowboys and knew the island lore — stories about ghosts, about shipwrecks, about a mythical temptress named Rita who supposedly awaited new cowboys.
August 27, 2011 | Eric Sondheimer
To stay or leave. An entire school was seemingly waiting to hear the decision of three-sport athlete Jeremiah Valoaga. After his sophomore football season at Oxnard Channel Islands, the 6-foot-6, 225-pound Valoaga said he was wooed by Westlake Village Oaks Christian. It was the worst-kept secret on campus. "One day at school, it was, 'Are you leaving? Are you leaving?' I'm not sure," Valoaga said. His football coach, Gary Porter, admitted, "I didn't think he was going to come back.
August 26, 2011 | By Stuart Pfeifer, Los Angeles Times
Surfboard manufacturers have a number of concerns — heavy competition, expensive shipping and employees who occasionally like to slip out early when there's a good break. Product liability lawsuits typically aren't one of their worries. That's what makes a lawsuit that recreational surfer Tom Gregg filed against Channel Islands Surfboards a little unusual. Gregg contends that a fin on his Channel Islands board cut a deep gash on his right leg when he wiped out off the coast of France in 2009.
July 27, 2011 | By Tony Barboza, Los Angeles Times
Reporting from the Channel Islands -- Natalie Senyk and Ben Waltenberger peered out the bubble-shaped windows of the small research plane flying 1,000 feet over the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and scanned the ocean surface for signs of life. On that bright, windy day earlier this month, the federal scientists were looking, in particular, for blow holes or the gigantic, gray outline of surfacing whales. Photos: Separating whales and ships The aerial survey is part of a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration mission to learn more about the movement of whales and to devise ways to keep them away from the container ships, fishing vessels, barges and sailboats that have been colliding with them at a rate of six a year in California.
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