Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute, which rescues and rehabilitates marine mammals in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, has received a $50,000 matching grant toward its current facility expansion project from the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians.

CIMWI announced the donation at its fundraiser Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, at the Carriage and Western Arts Museum in Santa Barbara.

For every dollar raised, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians will match up to $50,000 as the organization looks to offset the costs associated with the next phase of its expansion project.

“We reached out to CIMWI after the Refugio Beach oil spill to see if there were volunteer opportunities for members of our Team Chumash program,” said Vincent Armenta, tribal chairman of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. “As we learned more about their organization and the goals for their new facility, we decided that their expansion project was one that we’d proudly support.”

CIMWI provides medical care and rehabilitates marine mammals with the goal of releasing the rehabilitated, healthy animals back to their natural environment.

Licensed veterinarians, under the leadership of chief veterinarian and CIMWI co-founder Dr. Sam Dover, are responsible for examination, evaluation and treatment of each patient throughout the rehabilitation process.

With the unprecedented number of starving sea lion pups becoming stranded on California’s beaches, CIMWI expects its occupancy to double, or even triple, causing an immediate need for the group to expand its facility, which is located in the former Vista del Mar School in Gaviota.

CIMWI rescued 137 sea lion pups in 2014. This year, that number had already doubled by the start of June.

“Our organization has been challenged in ways we’ve never been before, and we are running at 20–25 percent over capacity in an effort to help care for more starving sea lions,” said CIMWI co-founder Ruth Dover. “We are extremely proud of all CIMWI has accomplished as an-all volunteer organization with limited funds. Our volunteers’ time, commitment, passion, heart, patience, talent and overwhelming desire to help these starving sea lion pups and support CIMWI are what make us successful each day.”

For more information about CIMWI and its current fundraising campaign, go to If you encounter a sick or stranded sea lion on the shore, please call the CIMWI Rescue Hotline at 805.567.1505.

The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians has donated more than $19 million to hundreds of groups, organizations and schools in the community and across the nation as part of the tribe’s long-standing tradition of giving.

To find out more about the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Foundation and its giving programs, visit

— Mike Traphagen represents the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians.