National Park Service Centennial

California island used as bombing range reopens to public

Katia Hetter, CNNPublished 6th May 2016
San Miguel Island, off the coast of Southern California, will reopen on May 17.
(CNN) — After two years of scrutiny for unexploded ordnance, San Miguel Island in California's Channel Islands is set to reopen this month.
Heavily bombarded by the U.S. military during World War II and continuing through the 1970s, this island 55 miles off the California coast will welcome the public again starting on May 17.
One of the five islands that make up Channel Islands National Park near Ventura, San Miguel was closed two years ago by the military because of safety concerns.
The U.S. Navy surveyed the beaches, campgrounds, 18 miles of trails and other high-use areas at surface level and subsurface levels looking for explosives.
No unexploded devices were found, but 125 pounds of munitions parts were removed from the island.
"The National Park Service is thrilled the island is open for the summer season," said park spokeswoman Yvonne Menard.
There are some new rules: visitors now have to sign a liability waiver and access permit.
The park's longtime "no wandering around by yourself" policy remains: all visitors must be escorted beyond the ranger station, and they are limited to the established trail system.
Just eight miles long and four miles wide, the island is a part-time home to more than 100,000 seals and sea lions who breed, rest and molt on the island beaches throughout the year.
The Channel Islands are well-known for diving and snorkeling, but park officials steer most enthusiasts to Santa Barbara, Anacapa and eastern Santa Cruz Islands.
San Miguel and Santa Rosa Islands are windy and only suited for experienced divers and snorkelers.
The park also hosts an underwater ocean live cam and a bald eagle live camera.
Visitors can arrive via their own boats, National Park Service charters or via a trial flight program with Channel Islands Aviation.
San Miguel is still owned by the U.S. Department of Defense and managed by the National Park Service by agreement.