Paddling Into a Natural Balance: Stories of Kayaking & Conservation Around Channel Islands National Park

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by Chuck Graham, 2023. Paperback, 123 pages.

Channel Islands National Park, off the coast of Southern California, has long represented an evolutionary hotbed for plant and animal species, some of which are found nowhere else in the world. Writer, photographer, and experienced kayaker Chuck Graham—an area native and a longtime guide to its island wonders—has spent many years on multi-day trips exploring one of North America’s least visited national parks and its isolated beaches, sea caves, and craggy canyons that rarely see human visitors. In this book, he presents vivid photographic evidence of the islands’ diverse wildlife and rugged beauty and reflects on the rich, diverse ecosystems that have evolved over eons.

He has sometimes accompanied on his exploratory trips’ scientists of various disciplines, he celebrates in vivid color photos the recovery of wildlife such as the island fox, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, rare seabirds, northern elephant seals, and diverse plant communities. He also details several hair-raising kayak trips in stormy seas that will leave readers breathless. As he remarks, he has always “pulled through” by relying on luck, guile, and experience (and occasionally keeping his kayak in place by wrapping his legs around in giant bladder kelp).

Paddling Into a Natural Balance provides a window into the efforts of Channel Islands National Park, among other organizations and many individuals, to protect and restore the islands’ natural beauty and its precious flora and fauna.

About the Author

Chuck Graham is a freelance writer and photographer based in Carpinteria. He’s been a beach lifeguard there for 30 years and has led kayak tours at the Channel Islands National Parksince 1998. His award-winning book, Carrizo Plain, Where the Mountains Meet the Grasslands, was released in January 2021. His second book, Hike the Channel Islands, was co-authored with John McKinney and was released in 2022.

Graham's stories and photos have appeared in Backpacker, Trail Runner, Men's Journal, Outdoor Photographer, Shutterbug, Photo Technique, Nature Photographer, Living Bird, Earth Island Journal, The Surfer's Journal, The Surfer's Path, Standup Paddle Magazine, SUP the Mag, Canoe & Kayak, Adventure Kayak, Sea Kayaker, Islands, American Forests, BBC Wildlife, Bay Nature, Outdoor California, Ojai Quarterly, Santa Barbara Seasons, Los Angeles Times, Santa Barbara Independent, Montecito Journal, Natural History Magazine, High Country News, National Geographic for Kids, and the Ventura County Reporter.