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New Visitor Center Opens at Channel Islands National Park on Scorpion Ranch

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It takes about an hour from the nation's second largest city to drive the 101 Freeway to the Ventura Harbor. With another hour by boat and you're inside one of the less visited National Parks in the country. Welcome to Channel Islands National Park, a group of five protected islands that represent what California looked like before modern humans developed the land, although some of the islands are in recovery after early century farming and other harms to the ecosystem.

This week marked a big step for the park as they unveiled the new Scorpion Ranch Visitor Center on Santa Cruz Island, the biggest and most visited of the five at 96 square miles. Of the 60,000 visitors to the islands (over 200,000 make it to the visitor center on the mainland), 50,000 make it to Santa Cruz where boats can land at two places, Prisoner's Harbor and Scorpion Ranch, where a new visitor center was debuted on Monday.

"Within a short space of time, a person can leave one world and really come to another world," an awed inspired Congresswoman Lois Capps said before the ribbon cutting. "And that is a gift."

The new visitor center includes educational displays and recreational information such as hiking trails and kayaking. It was funded purely on fees, mainly from the nominal $15 a night camping charge. There is no park entrance fee, but you do have to arrange transportation through the park's concessionaires.

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