Channel Islands National Park Raid on the East End of Santa Cruz Island, January 14, 1997

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Channel Islands National Park Raid on the East End of Santa Cruz Island, January 14, 1997

In the News~

January 22, 1997 [VCS]: “Lawyer says charges 'stink' in island raid. A lawyer for a man charged with grave-robbing on Santa Cruz Island says the only thing his client did was show Chumash bone fragments to undercover Park Service rangers posing as wealthy hunters. “Has the government gone crazy? My client showed them some bones, they looked at them and he covered them back up. They say that's breaking the las... The whole thing stinks in my opinion,” said attorney Steve Balash. Balash represents Brian Krantz, one of three men arrested by Park Service rangers on January 14 during a commando-style raid. About 20 heavily armed officers, including Santa Barbara County Sheriff's deputies, descended on the island and made the arrets at gunpoint. In a search warrant affidavit made public Tuesday, authorities allege that Krants, 33, who lived in the caretaker's home at Smugglers' Cove, had Chumash artifacts such as beads and stones on the window sills and deck of the house. Krantz is charged with one felony count of mutilating remains at a Chumash burial site plus several misdemeanors. The undercover officers allege that Krantz unearthed Chumash bones in their presence, offered them fragments as souvenirs and warned them not to tell anyone because it was illegal. “It's a lock-up offense — no citation, you're going straight to jail,” they quoted him as saying. Balash, hoever, says the criminal case has been overblown.”

January 30-February 6,1997 [Ventura Independent]: “Welcome to the Rock. National Park Service officials and concessionaires predict an increase in public use of Santa Cruz Island after February 10 when the east end becomes federal park land. Channel Islands—Sailors, fishermen, hikers, and campers will be able to use and enjoy, free of charge, natural resources at the east end of Santa Cruz Island when the Channel ISlands National Park takes full ownership of the formerly private 6,200-acre parcel on Feb. 10. “There will be no $15 personal landing fee [and no] $25 per/night/per person camping fee,” said Tim Setnicka, acting park superintendent, referring to current charges that will end along with private ownership. The area, coming under the umbrella of the National Park Service, comprises 10% of the 24-mile-long island, which covers 62,000 acres of mountains, pastoral valleys, running creeks, and beaches. The other 90% belongs to The Nature Conservancy, a land conservation organization. Mark Connally, a partner in Island Packers, a concessionaire providing boat transportation to the islands out of Ventura Harbor, said the public can visit both parts of the island through a choice of programs. Some activities currently offered will be restricted or no longer allowed. Camping will be permitted in the national park, but not in the conservancy's preserve. Both jurisdictions will allow hiking, boat landings, fishing, and kayaking. Neither will allow hunting, mountain biking, or horse-back riding. Dogs and other pets are not welcome on the environmentally sensitive island. The Nature Conservancy, which also operates out of Santa Barbara, also offers public information trips and volunteer programs. Connally said he is expecting more business because Santa Cruz Island has been receiving so much publicity as of late.

A raid earlier this month resulted in three arrests, one involving alleged Chumash grave-robbing. And negotiations between landowner, Francis Gherini and the federal government over the property sale have been rocky. Since 1980, the parties have been unable to agree on a sale price. Gherini is an Oxnard attorney whose family has owned the island since 1869. Because Gherini was unwilling to sell at the offered price, the land will fall under Park Service ownership through a process called “legislative taking”. Gherini refused comment. Setnicka said that contrary to reports that the Park Service had planned to remove the feral sheep by shooting them and leaving them to rot, the service has never finalized an official sheep eradication plan. “The greatest thing that is based on these rumors, people have come out of the woodwork to help us,” he said. Setnicka's park rangers are working with Ventura County Animal Regulation and Farm Sanctuary, a non-profit farm animal rescue group, to round up the sheep, transport them off the island, and place them in adoptive homes. The 2,700 wild sheep—once domesticated as part of ranching operations that began in the 1800s—degrade natural resources and must be removed. Grazing reduces both plant cover and nesting sites for birds. The non-native sheep also compact soil, which leads to erosion. Their activity also disturbs Chumash archaeological sites. Setnicka said the Park Service also would like to see the non-native pigs, horses, and peacocks on the island also find homes on the mainland. Setnicka added that the Park Service plans to implement a general management plan that will restore the ranch buildings and the natural ecosystem, as well as preserve the ranching history of the island. Protected sacred Chumash grave sites is also a high priority.

Two weeks ago, Brian Krantz, 33, a ranch worker employed by Island Adventures, the soon-to-be closed hunting and camping concessionaire, was arrested in a dramatic raid on suspicion of destroying native American Gravesites. Senior Deputy District Attorney Darryl Perlin of the Santa Barbara County D.A.;s office said he plans to charge Krantz next month. Charges will include felony counts for obtaining or possessing Native American human remains and misdemeanor charges involving injury to archaeological objects, shooting ravens, guiding without a license, and possessing undersized lobsters. Perlin said he will also charge Rick Berg, 35, and Dave Mills, 34, arrested along with Krantz, with misdemeanors crimes of guiding without a license and serving food without a license.”