As California’s population has exploded in the past century and one-half, much of its wild heritage has been lost forever. Wetlands have been filled, forests have been flattened and iconic animals have been shoved into the abyss of extinction. About the only grizzly bear you’ll ever see in California is stitched to the state’s flag. So although Grizzly Island is not all that its name implies, it’s still pretty nice and well worth visiting. That’s especially true if you go with someone like our old friend and sharp-eyed guide, Michael Ellis. We’ve followed Michael throughout California in search of wild sightings and have never been disappointed. Grizzly Island is in the backyard of nearly ten-million people, and yet it’s big enough to feel remote and remind us of what much of California once looked and felt like. Birds by the millions come and go as they have for millennia. River otters frolic as their ancestors did, and Tule Elk, once hunted to a within a few surviving individuals, enjoy the freedom to roam some of their ancient land. On Grizzly Island, life isn’t exactly the way it was before all of us moved in around it, but it’s a wonderful refuge and a bittersweet representation of what we’ve lost and must continue to save.