California Native Plant Society

CNPS eNewsletter

July 2011

Rare Plant Communities (RPC) Initiative Updates

Sargent cypress (Hesperocyparis sargentii) in Sonoma County next to another rare vegetation type with Baker’s Manzanita (Arctostaphylos bakeri). Photo by J. Evens

CNPS is developing tools and training individuals and groups to identify and protect rare vegetation types as key units of biodiversity through its Rare Plant Communities Initiative (RPC). A lot of progress has been made on many of the initiative's projects in this last quarter.

Mapping of Cypress Stands
We asked for help and you responded! Upon putting out a call for volunteers to assist us in data entry tasks and vegetation mapping, we are excited to say that Michael Hardy and Melissa Holly DeSiervo are volunteering with us one day a week. They are mapping MacNab and Sargent cypress (Hesperocyparis macnabiana, H. sargentii) stands in the Central and North Coast, and we hope to expand this pilot project to include mapping of all cypress vegetation in the state. Because the RPC Initiative is relatively new and our budget small, we are relying on volunteers to assist us in expanding our efforts. We want to thank everyone that responded, and we will try to reach out to others as this mapping project expands!

What habitats are important in your region?
Are there certain rare or sensitive habitats in your Chapter region that would benefit from mapping, to meet your local or regional conservation goals? If so, please let us know.  In the near future, we are hoping to initiate other pilot mapping projects with additional volunteer help.

Workshop participants to sample an alluvial wash scrubland with California sagebrush (Artemisia californica). Photo by D. Stout

Lake Tahoe Basin Fen Report Finalized
Vegetation Program staff are please to have completed a report on the sampling, mapping, and ranking of fens which are sensitive wetland types in the Tahoe Basin.  To learn more about this project, you can access the report through this link here.

Workshops Held to Train Chapter Volunteers, BLM Staff
In late April, 2011, Vegetation Program staff held two sampling and mapping workshops in southern California.  The first was held in the Chuckwalla Wilderness in eastern Riverside County for staff of the Palm Springs BLM Office.  This workshop provided BLM Palm Springs staff with the tools needed to undertake vegetation assessment and mapping in wilderness areas that they manage. 

We also held a second workshop in Orange County at the Irvine Ranch Conservancy for their staff and for CNPS Chapter members.  In addition to conducting surveys in rare alluvial scrub communities, CNPS staff forged new relationships with the Irvine Ranch Conservancy staff and renewed ties with southern California Chapter members. 

If you are interested in helping fund this initiative, please contact us.

Newly described alkali wetland vegetation dominated by rare annual species.

Tejon Ranch blooming with fields of popcorn flower, owl’s clover, sky lupine, and grasses.

Progress on Grasslands Initiative

Grant funding and contributed data allowed the Vegetation Program to analyze 500+ herbaceous surveys within the San Joaquin Valley and the Carrizo Plain. We focused on this region because the grassland habitats within it are poorly described and heavily impacted by development. Recent efforts define more than four new herbaceous alliances and 38 new herbaceous associations, not currently found in our Manual of California Vegetation.

New types include wash terraces dominated by thistle sage (Salvia carduacea Alliance), low alkali wetlands with numerous rare species (Atriplex vallicola–Lasthenia ferrisiae–Lepidium jaredii Association), and showy fields of popcorn flower, owl’s clover, and sky lupine (Plagiobothrys nothofulvus–Castilleja exserta–Lupinus nanus Provisional Association).

A new report that describes this work is now available through the link here, as part of our NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant. Other online grassland resources can be found here.

Photos by Jennifer Buck-Diaz

Thistle sage (Salvia carduacea)


Southern Sierra Nevada Foothills Vegetation Mapping Completed

CNPS has completed a fine-scale vegetation map in the southern Sierra Nevada foothills, with a focus area of approximately 11,600 acres near Millerton Lake. We also conducted hundreds of field samples, documenting a diversity of plant communities in the region. The completed vegetation map and data will be shared with land managers and partners in the region, which will enable them to make well-informed conservation and management decisions. Our current work was graciously supported by a private anonymous donation. A complete report detailing this project can be found on our website here.
Vegetation maps of the northern Sierra Nevada foothills, covering 2.6 million acres, and of this focused southern foothills map area are accessible through the Public BIOS Data Viewer and the Public Datasets links on Department of Fish and Game’s website here.

New CNPS Member Web Interface

CNPS has recently upgraded our web interface, the technology that provides visitors to our main website the ability to join CNPS, make a donation, or get information about our planned giving program online. This upgrade will provide new and existing CNPS members with additional options to view their gift records, register for statewide events such as the 2012 Conservation Conference, and make address changes, all through a secure member login and password. Eventually we hope to send special messages, newsletters, and alerts tailored to our members’ interests through this new interface.

Existing members can register online by going to and clicking on the Join/Renew or SupportCNPS buttons. Existing and new members will navigate to a new page to register a user name and password. Immediately upon registering, members or visitors can make a donation, sign up for a new membership, submit an address change, or register for statewide events. After 24 to 48 hours of completing the registration process, new or existing members will receive a confirmation email and can log back into the site to view their giving history, renew an existing membership, and receive special messages.


CNPS 2012 Conservation Conference Registration Now Open

CNPS 2012 Conservation Conference and hotel registration are now open! Register for the conference, workshops, and field trips. Early registration closes October 31, 2011.
Register to stay at the Town and Country Resort and Conference Center. Take advantage of the CNPS event discount and stay at the comfortable and convenient conference venue. Discounts apply through December 16 or as soon as the room block is filled.

For up-to-date conference details, go to

CNPS Training Workshop

Contact Josie Crawford for more information. Further details are available at

Sept 22-24
Legends of the Fall: Exploring the Clandestine Flora of Early Fall in the Eastern Mojave Desert
UC Granite Mountains Desert Research Station

Instructors: Jim Andre and Tasha La Doux
One evening lecture and two field days.
Fees: CNPS members $435; Non-members $460.

Price includes lodging and all meals at the research station.

Note that some details, including price and exact locations, are subject to change. Updates will be posted on the Education Program Training Workshop webpage as they become known. 

Chapter Events
A Sampling from Around the State


Milo Baker Chapter
Camping Trip to Highland Lakes in the High Sierra
Wednesday, August 3 
The lakes are set in a spectacular high alpine valley, close to the top of Ebbetts Pass at an elevation of 8,600 feet. These two lakes are unique as they are headwaters for two different watersheds. Highland Lakes are located at the end of Highland Lakes Road, seven miles off Highway 4. Highland Lakes Road is a narrow, steep and winding dirt route. For more information or questions, email Cindy Tancreto or call 707 528-9225.
Nobe Young Meadow Field Trip
Saturday, August 6

Nobe Young Meadow is historically significant as a site used by early horseback Forest Service high country rangers. It is found off Western Divide Highway about eight miles beyond the North Road junction, about 1.4 miles up Crawford Road, west of the Western Divide Highway. For more information or questions, call field trip leader, Joan Stewart, at 559-539-2717.

San Diego Chapter
Old Town State Park Native Plant Garden Midsummer Work Party
Saturday, August 13, 2011, 1:00-3:00 PM
The wetland in the Garden will have some weeding to do in August, but in mid-summer and even the weeds slow down usually so that makes our work easier. We can spend some time walking around and talking about the Garden's future, especially planning for the fall planting season. Bring sun protection and your favorite gloves and weeding tools, or dig out weeds using the gloves and tools that we provide.

The garden is located at the corner of Taylor and Congress Streets, across from the train/trolley/bus depot at the very west end of Old Town State Historic Park in San Diego. Come by public transit, or if you drive, free parking is in the lot next to the garden at Calhoun and Taylor Streets. Rest rooms and drinking fountain are on site. Questions? Contact Kay.


Sierra Foothills Chapter

Gardening with Natives Seminar
Saturday, September 10, 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

The Sierra Foothills Chapter is sponsoring its second annual Gardening with Natives Seminar entitled "How to Transform Your Traditional garden into a Beautiful Native Landscape" on Saturday, September 10, in the Manzanita Building at the Motherload Fairgrounds in Sonora. The featured keynote speaker will be Bart O'Brien from Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. Early registration is $35 for non-CNPS members and $30 for CNPS members until September 1. Lunch is included. and more information will be posted on Sierra Foothill Chapter's website as the date approaches. For more information, contact Patricia Hohne or call 209-753-4313.


Santa Clara Valley and East Bay Chapters

Growing Natives Symposium
Saturday and Sunday, September 17-18, 2011
Leading practitioners of native plant horticulture come together in this two-day symposium focusing on designing, installing, and maintaining native plant gardens of lasting value. The Saturday, September 17, 2011 program in Lafayette features talks by Carol Bornstein, Michael Craib, David Fross, Luke Hass, and Deva Luna. The Sunday, September 18, 2011 program in Berkeley consists of workshops by Jocelyn Cohen, Stephen Edwards, Katherine Greenberg, Don Mahoney, and Pete Veilleux, and guided tours of Regional Parks Botanic Garden and Native Here Nursery, both in Tilden Park, Berkeley. For more info or to register, see


For Chapter Events in your area, please visit the CNPS Website at


Photo Credits

  • Julie Evens- Sargent cypress (Hesperocyparis sargentii) in Sonoma County next to another rare vegetation type with Baker’s Manzanita (Arctostaphylos bakeri).
  • Jennifer Buck-Diaz - Tejon Ranch blooming with fields of popcorn flower, owl’s clover, sky lupine, and grasses.
  • Danielle Roach - Our vegetation sampling and map depict a variety of habitats, including vernal pools, upland grasslands, and blue oak woodlands on Big Table Mountain.
  • Jim Andre - Desert Mountain scene
  • Lucas Hass - Beautiful landscape

  • Julie Evens, Jennifer Buck-Diaz, Danielle Roach, Deborah Stout, Josie Crawford,  Tara Hansen, Stacey Flowerdew, Mark Naftzger, and countless CNPS volunteers.
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