California island used as bombing range reopens



Elephant seals fight in the water off the beach at Cuyler Harbor on San Miguel Island off Southern California, on Saturday February 13, 2010. (Brian Vander Brug/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

Starting on May 17, 2016, an island close to the state of California, will be welcome to the public again. The island is 55 miles off of the coast of California. It was heavily armed with the US Military during WWII and through the 1970s.

National Park Service spokeswoman Yvonne Menard said, “San Miguel, which is the western-most island in the Channel Islands chain, has always had the fewest number of visitors because of the distance. When it was open, it would get about 1,000 visitors and just 100 campers a year.”

The island has been closed off for two years by the military due to safety concerns. This is one of five islands that make up Channel Islands National Park near Ventura. It is considered as an uninhabited island with beautiful beaches and trails.

In 2014, Menard said, “There are some unhappy campers out there, but the key reason we did this is to keep people safe. At the National Park Service we support the Navy in its quest to ensure public safety.”

The ordinance clearance work is on the job in order to pave the way for visitors to enjoy the island with 23 miles of rocky coast, beaches, and sand dunes. To top it off, the island is a host to more than 1,000 seals and sea lions making it the largest pinniped rookery in the world.

Over the years that the San Miguel island has been closed the Navy has conducted surveys on more than 18 miles of trails for possible unexploded ordinance, yet none were ever found. However, 125 pounds of munition items, such as practice bombs, bomb fragments, and fuses, have been removed from the island.

Menard said, “It’s so remote, you take a step back in time to what California was like 100 years ago… It’s quite a spectacular experience.”