Anacapa Island lies 12.2 miles from the nearest mainland in Ventura, California. Waves and wind have eroded this five-mile-long volcanic spine into three islets with towering sea cliffs, caves, and natural bridges. This waterless island supports one native mammal, one species of amphibian, and two species of reptiles. In addition, nine seabird species and two dozen species of land birds nest on Anacapa Island. Of these, six are endemic subspecies. Anacapa Island became US government property in 1848. During the 19th century, the island served as home to transient otter and seal hunters, Chinese and Japanese abalone fishermen, crawfishermen, and others seeking economic opportunity. A series of ranchers occupied Anacapa Island as squatters, claiming possessory rights. Beginning in 1902, the federal government issued a series of five-year leases to Anacapa Island. The last new lighthouse on the West Coast was lit on East Anacapa Island in 1932, and five years later, the lease system was terminated. President Roosevelt declared Anacapa Island a national monument in 1938, and in 1980, it became one of five islands in Channel Islands National Park.
Cultural anthropologist and author Marla Daily, of the Santa Cruz Island Foundation, has spent her career researching the histories of all eight California Channel Islands. The California Historical Society bestowed upon Daily its Distinguished Service Award for her extraordinary service and dedicated efforts in preserving Channel Islands history.