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Guidelines for Chapters to Reduce Impacts to Native Plants

Adopted in September 1993; modified from the 1985 GUIDELINES FOR CHAPTERS... which this document replaces (PDF Version)

Familiarize yourselves with the rare and endangered plants, the fragile environments, and the unique biotic communities in your areas so that they may be given maximum protection. Be alert to threats; work with persons who make land use decisions for voluntary protection where possible and for legislative protection where needed. Attend public meetings and hearings on issues that will have an impact on plant resources in order to assess the situation and make recommendations to your chapter and to public officials.

  1. Obtain the plant policy statements of the public land agencies in your area (federal, state, county, and city) that control or regulate park lands, open space, watersheds, and roads, and share the information with your members. Suggest to agencies where their policies should be changed to better conserve natural resources.
  2. Become aware of and work with local individuals and departments that regulate or specify residential and commercial uses of plant materials, water use standards, and vegetation management programs. Comment and advise on how local restrictions or ordinances affect use or protection of native vegetation.
  3. Publish in your newsletter lists of commercial sources of native plants and seeds.
  4. Take and make opportunity to educate your members and the public of the importance of preserving our native plants in their natural habitats.
  5. Initiate and support programs to eradicate particularly aggressive and noxious exotic plants. Promote the use of native plants.
  6. Circulate our guidelines and policies to groups in your area to which they pertain (chairpersons of plant sales, wildflower shows, and field trips, teachers, and nurserymen).
  7. Consider opportunities to salvage plants that will be lost by development. These measures could include seed collection, cuttings, or whole plant removal. Be aware that such salvage activities are often of limited success or value.

Field Trips

  1. Remind all field trip participants of the Society's basic purpose of preservation of our native flora in its natural habitat.
  2. Discourage the disturbance of native plant life and encourage other methods of learning; e.g., photography, drawings, descriptive literature, and use of hand lenses.
  3. Know the regulations for the park lands, watersheds and roadways you are using; e.g., collecting plants without a specific permit is prohibited in parks, forests, and along highway right of ways.
  4. The leader should take responsibility for taking of specimens. Collecting should be considered only when identification cannot be made in the field. Particular care should be taken in removing flowers and/or seeds of a plant species that is infrequently encountered. Only reasonably abundant plants should be considered for study specimens. Collect only the minimal amount necessary to provide identification. Group identification of one specimen should be encouraged. A permit for collection is required in many locations. (See CNPS Collection Policy).
  5. Do not collect underground structures such as bulbs, corms, tubers, and rhizomes for eating or casual examination.
  6. Alert members to the deleterious effects of the trampling of many feet. Fragile environments should be visited with caution. Better one person advance into a fragile area to identify a plant than the whole group.

Plant Sales

  1. Plants offered for sale should be primarily those grown from cuttings or seeds. Offer information on how plants may be propagated.
  2. Generally, native plants should not be dug up and potted unless they have been salvaged from areas such as construction sites where the native vegetation is to be destroyed. Explain the use of salvaged material. These potted plants should be kept for sufficient time before being offered for sale to be sure they will survive the shock of transplant.
  3. To remove seeds, vegetative cuttings, bulbs, or any propagule from a natural population is to remove a portion of the vigor and reproductive strength of the population. There may be justifiable reasons to collect seeds or parts of growing plants, but the size of the population and the distribution of the species need to be considered. See also recommendations in the CNPS Policy With Regard To Plant Collecting.

Wildflower Shows

  1. If a wildflower show is held, stress that the goal of the CNPS is to preserve the native flora in natural habitats as well as to educate members and the public about the values of the plants and their communities.
  2. Point out that the plants on display are widespread species and were chosen and collected by people with special training. Make sure that this is the case.
  3. Avoid excessive or unnecessary collection of plants. Only abundant species should be considered. Illustrate rare or locally uncommon plants with photos or drawings.
  4. The display of living plants is only one educational technique. Consider other possibilities such as shows of slides, drawings, and paintings, publications, and established herbarium collections.
  5. When the show is completed, display materials might be donated to a local school or library or put to some other constructive and educational use.

Nurseries, Arboretums, and Gardens

  1. Growers are encouraged to exercise good judgment in collecting seeds and taking cuttings of natives that have horticultural potential. Collect only enough material to establish a source for further propagation. Enough seed must be left behind to ensure survival of the population.
  2. Growers and nurserymen should not take individual plants from the wild for resale. This is a practice which has led to the rapid decline of some of our more attractive plants, notably cacti, dudleyas, orchids, ferns, and lilies.
  3. Do not purchase plants if it is suspected that they have been taken directly from the wild. Demand to know the geographical source of plant materials.
  4. Growers and nurserymen should be allowed to dig up plants as a salvage operation when destruction in such places as construction sites is planned.
  5. In general, CNPS favors the use of native plants over exotic species and deplores the introduction of species such as broom (Cytisus spp.) and jubata grass (Cortaderia jubata) in any place. Other aggressive species should not be used or marketed in areas where they can spread and replace native vegetation or alter natural habitats.
  6. Concurrence with the above guidelines is necessary for advertising in the Society's journal, Fremontia.

Revegetation and Landscaping

Landscaping and revegetation , especially of public lands and natural areas in non-urban settings, should use only locally native species in an effort to restore original vegetation or develop species assemblages consistent with surrounding vegetation. (CNPS policies on Environmental Impact documents, tree planting, mitigation, rye grass, and transplanting and sowing of wildflowers are relevant).


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