California Native Plant Society

CNPS eNewsletter

February 2010

CEQA-stopper Bills Introduced By Legislators

Greg Suba, Conservation Director

Last month's CNPS E-Newsletter explained how, as part of his budget package, Governor Schwarzenegger has proposed exempting a group of select projects from CEQA (see "Update from the State Capital", CNPS E-Newsletter, January 2010). Since then, four new bills have been introduced in the State Legislature that would create the "CEQA Litigation Protection Pilot Program." These bills would immunize over 125 “favored” projects selected by the Secretary of Business and Transportation from CEQA enforcement, and CNPS has joined with conservation organizations statewide to strongly oppose the proposed legislation. The bills and their sponsors are:

ABx8 37 (Calderon (D) & Nestande (R)) 
AB 1805 (Calderon (D) & Nestande (R))
SBx8 42 (Correa (D) & Cogdill (R)) 
SB 1010 (Correa (D) & Cogdill (R))
The proponents’ stated purpose for pursuing CEQA litigation protection through the proposed bills is to expedite an increase in both jobs and investment throughout California during a great recession. However, as pointed out during the recent debate on SBx8 42 by the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality, the relationship between the effect of the bill(s) and actual job creation is limited and anecdotal, if not completely absent.

The language of all four bills is the same, with regular and fast-tracked versions heading through both the Assembly and the Senate. On February 24th, senators in the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality, after some candid debate, pushed the legislative "pause button" on the fast-tracked Senate version of the bill (SBx8 42). If any version of these bills passes, the Secretary of the Business, Transportation, and Housing Administration (BT&H) could select 25 projects each year for the next 5 years and grant them immunity from any legal challenges brought by citizens to enforce either CEQA or California Planning and Zoning law requirements. 

If the bills are enacted, a project selected by the Secretary of the BT&H would be granted judicial immunity long before any environmental review is done. Since a project’s inadequate environmental review could never be challenged in court, there would be no incentive to comply with the law and consider all of the project’s significant adverse effects on natural resources or a community. This means that residents in California would have no means to enforce CEQA’s environmental review process for any of the 125 projects in court – no matter their size or their impact on native flora and fauna, or on people's lives. 

Perhaps legislative support for these bills will be less than the support last fall for a bill (ABx3 81 Hall (D)) to similarly exempt a new sports stadium in the City of Industry from CEQA judicial review. That bill passed overwhelmingly (54-18 in the Assembly, and 21-14 in the Senate). 

Is there a CEQA-challenging legislator in your district?  Click on the following links to see last fall's Stadium Bill final vote count in the Assembly and the Senate. How did your legislator vote on the bill? How will they vote this time? (A vote could come as early as late March.)
What Can I Do To Help?
To preserve our ability as private citizens to protect California's rare plants, native vegetation communities, and other natural resources through the full CEQA process, now is the time to write, send emails, and make phone calls to the Governor, to your State Assembly Member, and State Senator. Make it clear that eviscerating CEQA is unacceptable, and that you oppose the four bills listed above. To find your state legislators' names and their contact information, followthis link and enter your zip code. 

Californians need jobs - this is true - and times of crisis bring moments of opportunity. As we create new markets and emerge from hard times, economic development and environmental quality will have to proceed side by side to sustain both quality jobs and natural resources in California. CNPS members can help by letting lawmakers know we want them working toward a future that addresses environmental issues, not one that avoids them. 

From the Education Program

Josie Crawford, Education Program Director

Eastern San Luis Obispo County, which includes the Carrizo Plain, hosts some of the most consistently splendid wildflower displays in the state. We will be holding two workshops there this March. Join us for both! Learn the plants and the plant communities. For more information and registration for these and other workshops go to

Mar. 25-27. Rare Plants and Habitats of Eastern San Luis Obispo County.
Instructors:  David Keil, Deborah Hillyard, Kevin Merk.
First evening presentation followed by two field days.
$310 CNPS members and $335 non-members 

Course Description: Overview and field studies of rare plants and vegetation of eastern San Luis Obispo County.   Emphasis on field identification, habitat characteristics, conservation status, and management concerns. Potential stops include sites in the Carrizo Plain, Temblor Range, Caliente Range, eastern La Panza Mts., Cuyama Valley, etc, depending on phenology, mud, and logistics.

Mar. 29-31.  Vegetation Rapid Assessment, Carrizo Plain. 
Instructors: Todd Keeler-Wolf and Julie Evens.
Three-day combination of field exercises and lectures.
$395 CNPS members and $420 non-members
Course Description: The California Native Plant Society (CNPS), the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG), present a Vegetation Rapid Assessment workshop in the Carrizo Plain. The course will be a combination of lecture and field exercises in vegetation sampling. The course will focus on collecting data using the CNPS Rapid Assessment protocol. We will discuss applications of fine-scale vegetation sampling, classification and mapping, how to document rare natural communities, and how vegetation information fits into planning documents.

For details and online registration go to


Rare Plant Treasure Hunt Heats Up This Spring

Nick Jensen, Rare Plant Program Director

This spring and summer, the Rare Plant Treasure Hunt, a new statewide CNPS initiative, is poised to accomplish a great deal in the name of rare plant science and conservation.  In December 2009, CNPS was the recipient of a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant to prioritize surveys for historical and new rare plant occurrences on BLM lands in the Mojave Desert and Carrizo Plain.  To help coordinate efforts in these areas, CNPS recently hired Amber Swanson.  Amber is a native of the Great Basin desert in Utah. She grad uated with a B.S. in Horticulture Science from Brigham Young University, but has since been working in the botanical field. She has worked for the Harvard University Herbaria and for the Red Butte Botanical Garden doing plant surveys on rare penstemons. She is passionate about conservation and hopes to contribute to the preservation of California's amazing native plants. 

In addition to efforts in the Mojave Desert and Carrizo Plain, dozens of groups of volunteers are prepared to conduct surveys for rare plants across the state.  To coordinate the statewide project CNPS recently hired Shannon Still.  Shannon is finishing his PhD at UC Davis where he has studied the taxonomy and phylogenetics of Eschscholzia. He has traveled extensively through California collecting poppies, and is excited to join the CNPS staff to help increase awareness for the rare plants in the state. Shannon has a BS in Horticulture from Ohio State a MS in Plant Science from the Longwood Graduate Program in Public Horticulture at the University of Delaware, and has also spent time working in the perennial nursery industry. 

For more information on the Rare Plant Treasure Hunt please visit

If you would like to participate in the project please email

Please join us in welcoming our newest staff members, Amber Swanson ( and Shannon Still (

Help Put State Parks Funding Initiative on November Ballot 

 Greg Suba, Conservation Director

One ballot initiative in November that would greatly benefit the long-term protection of California's native flora would be the State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund Act of 2010, a.k.a. the State Parks Initiative.

If enough signatures are gathered to qualify the initiative for November's ballot, and voters pass it, the State Parks Initiative would increase most automobile registration fees by $18 beginning January 1, 2011. The increased State revenue would then be dedicated as an annual source of funds needed to solve the current mercurial and insufficient funding situation parks face today, and to keep all 278 State Parks open and operating reliably into the future.

CNPS is a supporter of the State Parks Initiative and more petition signatures are needed to get the initiative on November's ballot. Petition forms and proper filing instructions will be available at the March Chapter Council meetings for Chapter representatives who would like to take forms back and have members sign on.

More information about the initiative is available via the State Parks Initiative website.

Native Plant Garden Tours

Arvind Kumar, CNPS Board Member, and Tara Hansen, Executive Director

CNPS supports an active Growing Natives program to encourage appropriate use of California native plants in public and private landscapes. Incorporating native plants in your home garden landscape can attract birds, butterflies, and other forms of life – essentially creating additional habitat in your own backyard! One way to get ideas for your own native plant garden is to sign up for a native garden tour in your area. 

Native garden tours in California drew capacity crowds last year. This year promises to be another banner year for native plant gardening outreach. Established tours like Going Native Garden Tour and Bringing Back the Natives are growing -- more gardens, more visitors, more feedback -- while new tours are popping up all over the state. If you want to see what native gardens look like, there is no better introduction. Go with friends and family, and bring back pictures and inspiration for your own garden. Register now to reserve a space.

Also, be sure to check out our new Grow Natives blog - featuring contributions from CNPS native garden experts from all over the state! 

Chapter Events

A Sampling from Around the State 

San Diego Chapter
2010 Spring Plant Sale Saturday, March 13, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Tree of Life Nursery, 33201 Ortega Highway, San Juan Capistrano, just north of San Diego. For more information contact Tree of Life Nursery (949) 728-0685 or visit

Bristlecone and Kern County Chapters
Field Trip: Comanche Point, Tejon Ranch, Saturday, March 6, 10 a.m

Join the joint field trip between the Creosote Ring Sub-Chapter of the Bristlecone Chapter and the Kern County Chapter for what may be an outstanding spring bloom at the Tejon Ranch. The plan is to work on creating plant lists so be prepared to key! For more information, please contact Kathy LaShure
or Lucy Clark or visit the Kern County Chapter field trips page or the Bristlecone Chapter events page.

Channel Islands Chapter
Search/Hike for Fritillaria ojaiensis and other Rare Plants, Rincon Creek Watershed, Ventura County, Saturday, March 20, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
David Magney and David Brown will lead an expedition to find, document, and monitor known and new populations of the endangered lily, Fritillaria ojaiensis (Ojai Fritillary, pictured) as part of the chapter's new Biodiversity Hotspot Program. For more information call (805) 646-6045 or email the chapter president at

For Chapter Events in your area, please visit this page.

 Photo Credits
  • David Monniaux, California State Assembly and Senate pictures
  • Nick Jensen, Education Program and State Parks article photos
  • Amber Swanson  
  • Shannon Still
  • Arvind Kumar,  a Palo Alto garden from the Going Native Garden Tour
  • David Magney, Fritillaria ojaiensis 
  • Nick Jensen, Josie Crawford, Greg Suba, Tara Hansen, Jack Tracey, Stacey Flowerdew, Arvind Kumar, David Magney, and Mark Naftzger


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