California Native Plant Society

CNPS eNewsletter

July 2010

Fired Up: Dangerous Bill Threatens to Set Bad Fire Policy Precedent

Greg Suba, CNPS Conservation Program Director

Wildland fire has become a new issue for the Legislature to grapple with annually. In each of the last several years we have seen a number of bills dealing with defensible space issues such as local land use planning in relation to fire, and funding for firefighting among others, and this year is no different. Some bad bills already have been defeated, such as AB 2301, which mandates access to public lands to clear vegetation to 300 ft. Another good land use bill that strengthens land use planning tools continues to an uncertain fate (SB 1207 - Kehoe).

In yet another bill pertaining to vegetation management (SB 1293), San Diego County is seeking a waiver or an expedited path to manage vegetation (i.e., clearcut) in the rural areas of the county. CNPS participated in a lawsuit that stopped the County from using a CEQA exemption for these purposes, and the county is now pursuing this legislation to get around the unfavorable ruling. CNPS representatives are working hard to ensure that any bill that moves forward is consistent with our policy. The CNPS Native Plants & Fire Policy adopted in March 2010, has been instrumental in this effort by providing a framework for our legislative engagement. Copies have been given to legislative staff, other conservation organizations, and San Diego County to demonstrate that our legislative position is founded on sound and thorough reasoning.

You can follow all current plant conservation-related legislation in California by clicking on the link found in the Current Legislation area of the CNPS Conservation Program web page here. Legislative information on SB 1293 can be found here.


Citizens in Action: The Broom Education and Eradication Program in Forest Ranch 

 Jennifer Jewell

Weeds are part of life. But some weeds are far more pernicious than others. In California all varieties of broom fit the pernicious category: due to high levels of volatile oils, broom plants are extreme fire hazards; as they spread, broom choke out native plants; and all portions of broom plants are toxic, offering no food or shelter of any kind to native wildlife. 

Dulcy Schroeder is a founder of and dedicated volunteer for an organization known as B.E.E.P., Broom Education and Eradication Program, based out of Forest Ranch. Dulcy, her husband Hans, and their two young boys built their home in the Big Chico Creek Canyon about 12 years ago. “The entire building site was covered in star thistle (Centaurea solstitialis), so I started with the eradication of that,” Dulcy says. However, she quickly became aware of the extent of the broom problem as well. “Especially along the creek - stands and stands of the broom choked and clogged the creek sides smothering out the riparian plants and animals that should have been at home there.”

Update on ACR 173

Joshua Stark

As legislators’ summer break comes to a close this week, ACR 173, declaring a California Native Plant Week, awaits its vote in the Assembly. The resolution passed the Assembly Rules Committee at the end of June with ten votes in favor, and one lone vote against. On the Assembly floor, CNPS can anticipate strong bipartisan support for the California Native Plant Week. 

After passing the Assembly floor, ACR 173 will then move to the State Senate, where it will probably pass through its Rules Committee and then onto the Senate floor. If approved by the Senate, the resolution is official – State resolutions require no signature from the Governor.

However, the State is currently in the midst of a financial crisis.  Legislators returning from their summer break will spend the lion’s share of their time on trying to fix our State’s financial woes, making a more chaotic schedule for committee hearings and floor votes. Typically, a small cadre of leaders from both parties, as well as representatives from the Governor’s Office, will begin the deal-making process, at times quickly calling the legislative bodies into sessions as votes become necessary.  This ‘hurry-up-and-wait’ process allows legislators to also pass other bills and resolutions, and we can anticipate that ACR 173 will be among the votes. 

There is still time to contact your California State Assemblyperson and let them know that you look forward to their vote in favor of ACR 173.  A California Native Plant Week during the third week of April will go a long way toward encouraging the protection and propagation of our native plants.

Desert Conservation Plan Update 

 Greg Suba

Federal and state agencies managing land and resources in California are preparing a landscape-level conservation plan in order to expedite the siting and development of renewable energy facilities across California's desert ecoregion. The purpose of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, or DRECP, is to protect desert wildlife and wild lands while expediting desert renewable energy production. Implicit to the success of the DRECP is the preservation of the ecological needs of desert plant species and vegetation communities. 

To assist the DRECP process, CNPS is gathering and prioritizing information relevant to the conservation of intact natural vegetation communities and rare plant populations within the desert planning area, and will work to ensure this information is incorporated into the DRECP process. This is information that would otherwise be under-considered, overlooked, or ignored due to the lack of agency staff available to fully consider plant issues given the unprecedented pace and scale of the DRECP process. There is also a tendency to respond toward the more broadly defined missions of other wildlife and wild lands conservation organizations, yet it is the plants themselves that that provide the underlying habitat values necessary to support desert wildlife. We will gather, analyze, an d prioritize botanical information critical to the preservation of intact natural vegetation communities and rare plant populations, provide this informat ion to land-use agencies, conservation organizations, and renewable energy developers, and advocate to DRECP stakeholders for the adoption of the most appropriate plant conservation measures based on our findings

The DRECP Stakeholders meet monthly in either Sacramento or Southern California. A desert renewable energy DRAFT Interim Mitigation Strategy was presented during the July meeting, and the DRECP Independent Science Advisory Panel's Science Recommendation Report will be presented at the upcoming August 11 meeting in Ontario, CA. DRECP documents and meeting notices can be found on the web here, and more information about the process can be found on the CNPS website here.

For over a year, CNPS and others have advocated for more reliance on distributed renewable energy generation (e.g., rooftop solar) to complement properly-sited large generation facilities. More rooftop solar generation would ease the pressure to build massive desert facilities and reduce impacts to desert flora and fauna. How can we promote the building of more rooftop solar projects? A key factor in implementing more distributed generation is growing the market for this technology. Establishing competitive feed-in-tariffs for distributed energy generation could be the way to get there. A feed-in-tariff (or FiT) is a pre-determined amount of money a person receives for selling energy from distributed (e.g., rooftop) sources. You can learn more about Fits from the Fit Coalition's website.

Education News

Rare Plant Treasure Hunt Offers Team Leader Trainings

Beginning this month, CNPS staff will offer trainings to people interested in leading teams to search for rare plants. The first pilot training will be held at Donner Pass, July 31-August 1. We will offer a second training in the Mojave Desert September 25-26. The exact destination will be dependent on rainfall (but it will be in the mountains). Go to the Rare Plant Treasure Hunt webpage or check out the latest news in Mojave coordinator, Amber Swanson’s blog. If interested in participating in the Treasure Hunt or have questions email us
Upcoming CNPS workshops 
For full details and registration for all workshops go to
Reduced of waived fees are available for students and under-employed people. Please go here for more information or to apply.

Vegetation Rapid Assessment/Relevé Workshop
Aug 11-13. 2010
Instructors: Julie Evens and Deborah Stout
South Lake Tahoe
This course will be a combination of lecture and field exercises in vegetation sampling, with a focus on collecting data using the CNPS combined vegetation rapid assessment/ relevé method.  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. CNPS Members: $310; Non-Members: $335

Legends of the Fall: Exploring the clandestine flora of early fall in the eastern Mojave Desert
Sept 28-30, 2010
Instructors: Jim Andre and Tasha La Doux
UC Granite Mountains Desert Research Center
First evening presentation followed by two field days.
Few botanists journey out in the late summer or early fall in search of colorful blooms of California’s desert plants. Yet the early fall bloom in the eastern Mojave Desert can be more reliable than the more popular spring blooms.  Approximately 10% of eastern Mojave annuals are considered “summer annuals”, species that germinate following the monsoonal cloudbursts of summer, grow rapidly, and complete the life cycle before temperatures decline sharply in fall.  In addition, many perennial species flower in early fall, particularly those of theAsteraceaePoaceae, and Polygonaceae.  This course will intro duce botanists to the ecology and taxonomy of the diverse flora of early fall in the eastern Mojave Desert, with special emphasis on rare or unique species. Cost of workshop includes meals and dorm lodging for two days and two nights. CNPS Members: $435; Non-Members $460

Negotiation Skills for Environmental Problem Solving 
Nov 17-19, 2010
Instructor: Jim Nelson with special guests
UC Davis

Three days of classroom exercises and case studies. Environmental negotiations are often more complex than other negotiations due to their technical complexity, regulatory complexity, interest from many parties, and often, the emotional nature of the parties.. This workshop presents basic negotiation concepts (e.g., Fisher and Ury’s, “Getting to Yes” series) and specific environmental issue applications. Negotiation simulations and role playing are used to provide a fun and safe way to learn negotiation principles. In addition, everyone is encouraged prepare for upcoming (real life) negotiations during this course. This course emphasizes using principled negotiation approaches. The attendees are taught to recognize commonly encountered tactics and shown productive responses. Guest presenters will provide examples of successful negotiations. The skills taught in this class help many reduce anxiety about negotiating while helping to achieve successful outcomes. Course materials provide useful tools for future negotiations. CNPS Members: $395; Non-Members: $420
Plant Taxonomy Teacher Training
Nov 20-21, 2010
Instructor: Dr. Glenn Keator
Regional Parks Botanic Garden, Tilden Park, Berkeley

This course is for people interested in teaching a plant taxonomy course at the junior college or extended education level. Potential teachers should be familiar with California flora and its plant families and have taken one or more semesters of Plant Taxonomy or Systematics. We will not be teaching plant taxonomy in this course but will teach how to teach a course using the syllabus provided by Dr. Glenn Keator. Cost includes lunch. CNPS Members: $100; Non-Members $125

Chapter Events

Sierra Foothills Chapter
Saturday, August 21, Field trip to Bennettville and Fantail Lake, Yosemite National Park Join leaders Judy and Barry Breckling on an easy but rewarding hike. We're likely to find lots of high-country wildflowers on the way to Fantail Lake, which sits at almost 10,000 feet. Along the way we'll visit the historic mining community of Bennettville. Parking is limited on this trip, so carpooling is encouraged and can be arranged outside of Yosemite in Groveland. Due to space limitations, RSVP is required. For more information or to RSVP, e-mail

Gardening with Natives Seminar
Saturday, September 11, 1:00-5:00 PM 
Sierra Building, Motherload Fairgrounds, Stockton Street, Sonora
California native plants are adapted to grow in the conditions we find in our local area. Even so, each plant species has its specific requirements and each landscape has its challenges. The goal of this seminar is to provide advice on how to grow native plants utilizing experts in different aspects of the subject. Our keynote speaker is Glenn Keator, author of many books including Designing Native Gardens: The Plant Community Approach to Artful, Ecological Gardens; California Plant Families: West of the Sierran Crest and Deserts; The Life of an Oak: An Intimate Portrait; Complete Garden Guide to the Native Perennials of California, and others. Other panelists include Master Gardeners Val Myrick, Carolee James, and Rebecca Miller-Cripps, Reginia Hirsh, co-owner of Mountain Sage Nursery and Mountain Sage Landscaping, retired nursery owner Mary Anderson, local expert Mary Anderson, and one of CNPS&rs quo;s own vegetation program botanists, Suzanne Harmon. Registration is $20.00 per person and must be received by September 1. For more information, please contact Bob Brown (209) 928-9281 or

For Chapter Events in your area, please visit


Photo Credits
  • Julie Evens, chaparral clearcut in San Diego County
  • David Monniaux, California State Assembly, Public Domain Photo
  • Amber Swanson, Ivanpah Valley
  • Amber Swanson, Penstemon fruticiformis var amaragosae
  • Josie Crawford, Workshop Group
  • Jim Andre, Mountain Scene
  • Jim Nelson, Workshop Class
  • Suzanne Harmon, Sierra Trail

  • Greg Suba, Joshua Stark, Vern Goehring, Josie Crawford, Suzanne Harmon, Amber Swanson, Julie Evens, Stacey Flowerdew, Tara Hansen, and Mark Naftzger
  • Jennifer Jewell hosts In a North State Garden weekly on Northstate Public Radio 91.7 fm (KCHO Chico/88.9 fm KFPR Redding). For more information:
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