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Left to Right: Eric Hvolbøll, Marla Daily, Cardinal Roger Mahony, Phyllis Diebenkorn, Joe Walsh and Robert Lagomarsino. May 3, 1991
Left to right: Jim Youngson, Lola and Ryan Zinke, Secretery of the Interior, and Robert J. Lagomarsino (90), April 21, 2017

LAGOMARSINO, Robert J. (b. September 4, 1926), United States Representative from Ventura, California who introduced the bill into Congress in 1980 which created Channel Islands National Park. He is considered to be the founding father of Channel Islands National Park.

Lagomarsino was first elected to the California Senate in 1961 and was re-elected three times. He entered the 93rd United States Congress in 1974 upon the death of Republican Charles Teague.

When the National Park Service issued a Draft Management Plan for Channel Islands National Park in November 2013, Lagomarsino opposed such a designation. The following letter was sent to multiple persons in multiple agencies:

(Retired, 19th district of CA)
3040 Solimar Beach Drive
Ventura, CA 93001

TO: Greg Jarvis, Project Manager
National Park Service—Denver Service Center
12795 West Alameda Parkway
Lakewood, CO 80228

February 25, 2014

Dear Mr. Jarvis,

With this letter I submit my comments to the Channel Islands National Park Draft General Management Plan/Wilderness Study/Environmental Impact Statement, dated November 2013.

Let me be clear from the outset: I oppose—in the strongest possible terms—Wilderness Designation for any lands within Channel Islands National Park, and most particularly for Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Islands. Such designation is neither necessary nor consistent with the intent and premises by which this national park was created. And I would know. I served as Congressman for the 19th District of California from 1974 until 1992, and spearheaded numerous key environmental protection measures throughout my tenure, the most important of which was as author of the bill establishing Channel Islands National Park in 1980. Following on the profound success of that measure, we went on to secure the necessary funding to make this vision a reality. Through these efforts, the terrestrial and aquatic habitats of one of the most unique natural areas in this country have been preserved for future generations of Americans to enjoy; while also creating jobs, access and preserving the archaeological and rich “ocean ranching” heritage found there. As you can well imagine, shepherding such a process through from concept to reality involved years of negotiation and delicate balances between the competing visions of all stakeholders. A vast number of talented men and women are responsible for achieving this balance, which is completely disregarded by this ill-conceived draft plan.

The island owners did a great job of preserving and protecting these unique ranches-in-the-sea before the park was created. That is why there was something to preserve for the future. It is the responsibility of the National Park Service to appropriately honor these ranchers and their island heritage. Wilderness designation is incompatible with this responsibility; it is incompatible with the historic use of these islands.


Robert J. Lagomarsino

Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240

Jon Jarvis, Director
National Park Service
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240

Dr. Stephanie Toothman, Associate Director, Cultural Resources
National Park Service
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240

Chris Lehnertz, Director, Pacific West Regional Office
National Park Service
333 Bush Street, Suite 500
San Francisco, CA 94101-2828

Martha J. Lee, Deputy Regional Director, Pacific West Regional Office
National Park Service
1111 Jackson St. #700
Oakland, CA 94607
510 817-1327

Russell Galipeau, Superintendent
Channel Islands National Park
1901 Spinnaker Drive
Ventura, CA 93001

House Committee on Agriculture
1301 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

  • • Frank D. Lucas, Chair
  • • Collin C. Peterson, Ranking Member
  • • Jim Costa, Member (CA)
  • • Gloria Negrete McLeod, Member (CA)
  • • Juan Vargas, Member (CA)
  • • Jeff Denham, Member (CA)
  • • Doug La Malfa, Member (CA)
  • • John Garamendi, Member (CA)

U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
305 Dirkson Senate Building
Washington, DC 20510

  • • Mary L. Landrieu, Chair
  • • Lisa Murkowski, Ranking Member

Senator Diane Feinstein
United States Senate
331 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

One Post Street, Suite 2450
San Francisco, CA 94104

Senator Barbara Boxer
United States Senate
331 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Congresswoman Lois Capps
2231 Rayburn House Office Building 301 East Carrillo St., Suite A
Washington, D.C. 20515

301 East Carrillo St., Suite A
Santa Barbara, CA 93101

In the News~

June 23, 1992 [VCS]: “$8 million approved for purchasing land. Parcel is on Santa Cruz Island. A request for $8 million to acquire part of the last remaining privately owned parcel of land on Santa Cruz Island was approved by a House Appropriations subcommittee, Rep. Bob Lagomarsino said Monday. The 6,200-acre piece of land, on the eastern end of the island, is owned by the Gherini family of Santa Barbara. One-quarter of the property was purchased from the family in 1990 for $4 million, and the $8 million requested would go toward purchasing two more quarters. Money for the final quarter of land will be sought next year, said Steve Hodapp, who works on Lagomarsino's parks and public lands subcommittee. Mack Shaver, superintendent for Channel Islands National Park, said the goal is to put the National Park's main visitor's center on the eastern end of Santa Cruz Island, and relieve pressure from Anacapa Island. “These funds are urgently needed to protect Anacapa from overuse while allowing visitors to more fully experience the unique flora and fauna of the islands,” Lagomarsino said. Anacapa is the smallest of the Channel Islands at about 2,040 acres, and is also the nearest to the mainland at 11 miles offshore. Santa Cruz Island covers 62,000 acres and is the next closest, about 14 miles offshore. “You can get yourself lost on Santa Cruz,” Shaver said. “You can forget you're on an island.” Shaver said that after the remaining land is purchased, officials intend to build a small pier on the eastern end of Santa Cruz Island, near the adobe Scorpion Ranch. a campground is also in the plans. A privately owned business — Santa Cruz Island Adventures — now flies visitors into Santa Cruz for hunting, hiking, kayaking and camping, Shaver said. Feral sheep are the most popular game sought by hunters, he said. The $8 million was the second largest amount approved by the subcommittee for land acquisition anywhere in the United States, Hodapp said. “We feel pretty positive about this,” he said. “We would have liked to have seen all $12 million, but in reality that was just not possible.” The full House Appropriations Committee will take up the funding request on Monday. Hodapp said it could go before the House in the first week of July, then go to the Senate for approval.”