September 4, 2008

Avalon Nurturing New Groth

By Joe Segura

There's a fresh coat of lush growth that's turned the scarred landscape into a handsome haven.

The Catalina Island Conservancy has been busy nursing the new growth -- breaking through the charred layers left over from last year's fire.

The environmental organization has been recruiting volunteers to monitor the revived area, fencing it off so that deer don't wander through the sensitive turf, according to Bob Rhen, a conservancy spokesman.

Five strategic sites have been fenced off, helping to keep the growth at a healthy pace.

"There's quite a lot of growth," Rhen said.

However, there's not much hope of keeping a bison from wandering through, Rhen said.

"If a bison wants to go through, it will go through," he noted.

Avalon is situated on the eastern portion of Santa Catalina Island, 22 miles south-southwest of the Los Angeles Harbor breakwater. It is a little over one square mile; the island is 76 square miles.

The Catalina Island Conservancy maintains 86 percent of the island in its natural state.

The seaport village of Avalon has a population of around 3,200, with 1 million visitors annually.

The island is part of Los Angeles County, and the Avalon schools are part of the Long Beach Unified School District.

Avalon is one of only two towns on the island. Two Harbors is the other, at the island's narrowest point.

The rest is preserved by the conservancy, which was established by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, the island's former owner.

In May, Avalon was threatened by a wildfire that forced hundreds of residents to flee on ferries as ash rained down like snow.

One home and a few small businesses in the canyons outside the city burned, but the weather helped firefighters keep most properties safe, Fire Chief Steven Hoefs told reporters. Some 1,200 homes were under voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders before the fire was contained.

A long, narrow island, Catalina is served by helicopters and ferry boats from Los Angeles, Long Beach and other mainland harbors.

Avalon's small population can swell to more than 10,000 on weekends and in summer, according to the Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau. NUMBERS TO KNOW City Hall

Pete Woolson, City Manager

410 Avalon Canyon Road, Avalon 90704

310-510-0220 Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau

1 Green Pier,

Avalon 90704


L.A. County Sheriff's Department

420 Avalon Canyon Rd.,

Avalon 90704

310-510-0174 (Non-emergency) Avalon Fire Department

209 Metropole St., Avalon 90704 310-510-0203 (Non-emergency)

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