Catalina Island Conservancy continues work started in 1970s

The following is the first in a series on why the Catalina Island Conservancy was created, its unique history and mission.

The Catalina Island Conservancy was established in 1972 to preserve and protect Catalina Island.  Helen and Philip K. Wrigley and Mrs. Dorothy Wrigley Offield deeded 42,135 acres from the Santa Catalina Island Company to the Conservancy on Feb, 15, 1975, in the final step to ensure that most of Catalina’s wildlands and wildlife would be protected.  

The following is the first in a series on why the Catalina Island Conservancy was created, its unique history and mission.

The Catalina Island Conservancy was established in 1972 to preserve and protect Catalina Island.  Helen and Philip K. Wrigley and Mrs. Dorothy Wrigley Offield deeded 42,135 acres from the Santa Catalina Island Company to the Conservancy on Feb, 15, 1975, in the final step to ensure that most of Catalina’s wildlands and wildlife would be protected.  

“We grew up having experiences in nature as part of our DNA,” Paxson H. Offield said. “Our families had a special insight in preserving Catalina and we all benefit from their foresight. Most important was to ensure there was a steward for Catalina that shared our same passion. So, the Catalina Island Conservancy was created.”

With this gift, 88 percent of Catalina’s interior and more than 60 miles of its coastline were permanently placed under the stewardship of the Conservancy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

The protection went hand-in-hand with recreational and educational uses, which were reaffirmed in 1974 when the Island Company signed a 50-year open-space agreement with Los Angeles County.

This agreement guaranteed the public’s use of the Island, which was consistent with established good land conservation practices while providing recreation opportunities.

The 1972 articles of incorporation stipulated the responsibilities of the Conservancy:

• “To preserve native plants and animals, biotic communities, geological and geographical formations of educational interest, as well as open-spaced lands used solely for the enjoyment of scenic beauty …

• “To promote the study of ecology, including terrestrial and aquatic, natural history, archaeology and conservation, and

• “To promote the ecologically sound and appropriate recreational and educational use of the property … by the general public, scientists and others.”

“When they established the Conservancy, our families wanted to make sure that people could easily experience the natural beauty of Catalina and, in doing so, learn more about our environment,” said Alison Wrigley Rusack. “There needed to be an organization in place to maintain that natural experience in perpetuity.“

The original documents creating the Conservancy ensure that its property is irrevocably dedicated for charitable purposes.  

In keeping with this original intent, the Conservancy is guided by its mission to be a responsible steward of its lands through a balance of conservation, education and recreation.

Conservation

Conservation is a branch of science that deals with the protection, restoration, management and sustainable use of natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations.  The Conservancy’s efforts in endangered species recovery and the management of invasive plants and animals have been nationally recognized for their forward thinking approaches and successful outcomes.

Education

The Conservancy’s Education Department serves Catalina’s families, students, businesses, and visitors through formal classroom lessons and in-the-field experiences designed to deliver nature-based learning.

Through this work, people of all ages connect to Catalina’s natural and cultural resources and can appreciate them firsthand.

Recreation

As one of the oldest private land trusts in California, the Conservancy opens its wildlands for public enjoyment in many ways.

Hikers, bikers, campers, boaters, runners, or outdoor enthusiasts in a more general sense, can choose from the Conservancy recreational opportunities—from mild to wild—for all ages.

After 41 years, the Conservancy continues to work to keep Catalina wild by using conservation and restoration efforts rooted in sound science.

The Conservancy provides lifelong learning opportunities to help children and adults discover and understand their connections to nature. It supports Catalina recreational experiences that balance human uses with nature’s needs.

By hoping to inspire visitors to become responsible stewards of their environment, the Conservancy helps today’s children and future generations enjoy Catalina Island’s abundance of natural beauty.

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