California Native Plant Society

CNPS eNewsletter

July 2013

CNPS Rare Campaign

Poliomintha incanaDid you know that nearly 1/3 of the plants in our state are rare? For nearly 50 years, CNPS has worked to save, protect, and celebrate the spectacular flora of California, and this summer we are pleased to announce a campaign to boost our efforts to conserve rare plants and rare plant communities: The CNPS Rare Campaign.

Since 1968, when CNPS President G. Ledyard Stebbins began the Rare Plant Program, to the present day, with the free online CNPS Inventory of Rare, Threatened, and Endangered Plants, accessed daily by scientists, researchers, agency staff, environmental firms, and students- the conservation of rare plants has been at the heart of CNPS's mission. Amazingly, CNPS's incredible rare plant work is accomplished with both limited budget and staff- but you can help us do more. Please consider making a special gift to support this crucial work. We need your help to discover and publish more data, complete more science, and win more fights to save these irreplaceable treasures! Donations may be made online ("Designation: Rare Campaign"), or by sending a check to CNPS Rare Campaign, 2707 K Street, Ste. 1, Sacramento, CA 95816.

CNPS Announces New and Revised California Rare Plant Ranks: 2A and 2B!

Poliomintha incana

In order to better define and categorize rarity in California's flora, the CNPS Rare Plant Program and Rare Plant Program Committee have developed the new California Rare Plant Ranks (CRPR) 2A and CRPR 2B. CRPR 2B contains all of the plants formerly included on CRPR 2, and are defined as plants that are rare in California, but are more common outside of the state's boundaries. CRPR 2A includes a small number of plants formerly included on CRPR 1A, which are presumed extirpated in California, but more common elsewhere. These new ranks help further clarify that CRPR '2' plants are more common outside of California, while emphasizing that CRPR '1' plants are rare throughout their entire range. Furthermore, with the addition of CRPR 2A, the definition of 1A has been revised to include only those plants that are presumed to be wholly extinct or that have been extirpated in California and are rare elsewhere.

Continue reading here.

Forestry and CEQA, What’s a Legislature to Do?

As the State Legislature approaches it final weeks for the 2013 Session, CNPS focuses its efforts on active forestry legislation and focuses its eye on potential late session runs on CEQA.

CNPS is an active participant in a Timber Harvesting Working Group (THWG) hosted by Assemblymember Wes Chesbro (Arcata), Chairman of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee. The THWG has been working on a number of issues, including improvements to the cumulative effects analysis of timber harvesting, non-industrial timber management, and forest fuels management.

AB 904 by Chesbro creates a new Working Forest Management Plan (WFMP), supposedly an improved and expanded Nonindustrial Timber Management Plan program (NTMP). While this is an issue the THWG has worked on, this bill is not a consensus of the Group.

In 1989, the Legislature adopted the NTMP in hopes of providing an incentive to small forest landowners to keep their land as intact forest lands. Private forest lands and the public environmental benefits they provide normally face greater economic pressure for subdivision and development. The NTMP allows landowners of not more than 2,500 acres to develop a long-term management plan incorporating uneven-aged and sustained yield management strategies, in exchange for relief from the need to prepare a THP for each individual timber harvest.

Not having to do THPs saves the landowner money and time, enabling them to take advantage of market price swings, and uneven-aged (no clear cutting) management generally provides better environmental protection. Approved plans, however, last forever and the mechanisms for updating them as science may warrant are limited.

CalFire estimates there are 3.2 million acres of forest land in smaller private ownerships in the State and only approximately 380,000 are covered by current NTMPs. For years the Department and others have advocated for expanding the NTMP to include more landowners and more acreage.

That’s the reason for AB 904 - expand the current NTMP concept and fix some of the shortcomings in the current program. The bill allows forest landowners of up to 15,000 acres to prepare a WFMP to avoid the need (cost) of preparing individual THPs. While proponents of the bill argue that it incorporates programmatic improvements, they frankly are hard to find. For example, it uses current law language regarding the requirement for uneven-aged and sustained yield management which is stated as an objective not a mandate. Public participation, transparency, and the role of responsible agencies are minimally improved.

But most significant is the lack of adequate protections for all other wildlife and plant resources existing and dependent on private forest lands. WFMPs would be CEQA equivalent documents, yet no baseline survey of wildlife/plant species is required - merely office or computer checks of data basis or casual observation. And plans are not required to specify broad based resource management goals and measures to integrate tree growth and protection of the diversity of species present.

Even though CNPS feels the concept of providing incentives for better forest land management could yield public benefits, we and our forestry partners have decided to oppose AB 904 until extensive amendments are added. We submitted a lengthy letter identifying ten specific issues or provisions to be amended.


The year began with lots of concern for what might be in store for weakening the significance and power of CEQA. Many bills were introduced to shrink the law and even a few were introduced by environmental groups to strengthen it. CNPS collaborated with and supported these efforts. Most bills have been sidetracked and only SB 731, by Senate President pro Temp Darrell Steinberg remains alive. While the provisions in SB 731 are largely neutral in their affect with few organizations supporting or opposing, rumors abound that late weakening amendments (to SB 731 or another bill) are in the works and that key swing legislative members are being lobbied hard by industry and developers to support them.

This year’s legislative work ends on September 13, so the next six weeks are crucial. Now is the time to contact your local Senator and Assemblymember to tell them that protecting CEQA and the public’s right to know how projects will affect your neighborhood and your quality of life is important. Find your local legislators here

A quick phone call is all that’s needed. Tell them that weakening CEQA protections and public participation guarantees is unacceptable.

For additional information regarding CEQA, its value to our communities and the threats it faces, please check out the website of CEQA Works, a collaboration sponsored by the Planning & Conservation League -

Newly described monkeyflowers rank their way into the CNPS Inventory

Article by Aaron Sims. All photos are by Naomi Fraga

Five monkeyflowers that were recently described as new to science by Naomi Fraga (Aliso 30: 49-68, 2012) are rare, threatened, or endangered in California and are being added or reviewed for addition to the CNPS Inventory. Three of them are endemic to California, meaning they occur nowhere else in the world, and the other two are only known from California and adjacent Nevada. Below is some information about these rare and beautiful monkeyflowers. At the time of this writing, not all of these species have been added to the CNPS Inventory. Be sure to check back to the Inventory to see additional information about them in the future. 

Limestone monkeyflower (Erythranthe calcicola)

Limestone monkeyflower (Erythranthe calcicola)
Limestone monkeyflower is known from the northern Mojave Desert of eastern California and from southwestern Nevada, where also rare. It occurs nearly exclusively on carbonate (limestone) substrate, which is where its common and scientific names come from. Limestone monkeyflower is currently only known from fifteen occurrences in California, mostly from Inyo County, with one occurrence from Mono County. It can be found in several mountain ranges in the northern Mojave Desert, including: Funeral Mountains, Inyo Mountains, Last Chance Range, Panamint Mountains, and White Mountains. Limestone monkeyflower is possibly threatened by historic mining and non-native plants, and with such a limited global distribution, has been added to California Rare Plant Rank (CRPR) 1B.3 (rare in California and elsewhere; not very threatened) of the CNPS Inventory.

Carson Valley monkeyflower (Erythranthe carsonensis)

Carson Valley monkeyflower (Erythranthe carsonensis)
Carson Valley monkeyflower is named after the Carson Valley region of Nevada where it primarily occurs. It occurs in open areas of Great Basin sagebrush/bitterbrush scrub in coarse granitic soils, and is only known from a single occurrence in California, from the vicinity of Fredericksburg in Alpine County. Carson Valley monkeyflower is seriously threatened in Nevada by habitat loss from development and agriculture, presence and abundance of non-native plants, off-highway vehicles, and recreation. In California it is possibly threatened by development, as there is housing in the vicinity of the population. Due to its small distribution and reduced population sizes, significant threats to the majority of its occurrences in Nevada, and single known occurrence in California, Carson Valley monkeyflower was added to CRPR 1B.1 (rare in California and elsewhere; seriously threatened) of the CNPS Inventory.

Santa Lucia monkeyflower (Erythranthe hardhamiae)

Santa Lucia monkeyflower (Erythranthe hardhamiae)
Santa Lucia monkeyflower is endemic to the Coast and Inner Coast ranges of Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties, California. Itwas named in honor of Clare Butterworth Hardham (1918-2010), a botanist from Paso Robles that studied the flora of the Santa Lucia Mountains. Santa Lucia monkeyflower occurs in sandy soils of chaparral and in sand-filled crevices of sandstone outcrops. Itis known from approximately six occurrences, mostly from Fort Hunter Liggett, and is threatened by development, and possibly threatened by grazing, road maintenance, and non-native plants. With a small distribution and number of occurrences along with threats, Santa Lucia monkeyflower was added to CRPR 1B.1 (rare in California and elsewhere; seriously threatened) of the CNPS Inventory.

Red Rock Canyon monkeyflower (Erythranthe rhodopetra)

Red Rock Canyon monkeyflower (Erythranthe rhodopetra)
Red Rock Canyon monkeyflower is endemic to the El Paso Mountains in Kern County, California. It was named after the red sedimentary rocks of Red Rock Canyon State Park, where the species grows in sandy canyon washes of Mojavean desert scrub at the base of red sedimentary cliffs. Red Rock Canyon monkeyflower is only known from seven occurrences and is possibly threatened by mining, vehicles, recreational activities, foot traffic, and non-native plants. Based on its very small distribution and occurrence number, and threats, it was added to CRPR 1B.1 (rare in California and elsewhere; seriously threatened) of the CNPS Inventory.

Sierra Nevada monkeyflower (Erythranthe sierrae)
Sierra Nevada monkeyflower is endemic to the southwestern foothills of Sierra Nevada in California, from Fresno, Tulare, and Kern counties. It is primarily known from decomposed granite in vernally wet swales, depressions, the edges of streams, dry meadows, and in openings of oak woodland and pine forest.

Sierra Nevada monkeyflower (Erythranthe sierrae)
Sierra Nevada monkeyflower is known from over thirty occurrences and is possibly threatened by development, grazing, off-highway vehicles, recreational activities, road and trail maintenance, and non-native plants. It is currently being proposed for addition to CRPR 4.2 (watch list; moderately threatened) of the CNPS Inventory due to its limited distribution and possible threats.

Note: All but one monkeyflower (Mimulus ringens) in California are no longer included in the genus Mimulus and are now comprised in two genera: Diplacus and Erythranthe. There are currently 33 Mimulus taxa in the CNPS Inventory that will reviewed for change to the genus Diplacus or Erythranthe due to new taxonomy. Please keep your eyes out for these many changes to come!

Desert Conservation Planning

Proposed conservation measures for desert vegetation under the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP, or Plan) continue to be developed by state and federal agencies. CNPS Conservation Program will be reviewing and commenting on these documents as they become available.

The DRECP is a combined Natural Communities Conservation Plan (NCCP) / Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) covering 23 million acres of California's desert landscape, and is still very much in flux. The planning area affects seven southern counties, Inyo, Kern, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Riverside, Imperial, and San Diego, though participating in the Plan is voluntary for both counties and energy project applicants. Ideally, benefits of participating in the Plan include expedited project review and approval processes for both project proponents and lead agencies, and well-planned conservation benefits for the desert. In general, the seven counties are wary of agreeing to a Plan that mitigates impacts of renewable energy projects by converting millions of acres of private county lands into a large conservation reserve, since eliminating development rights on these lands would limit future county tax revenues. Without county participation, however, the conservation measures developed under the NCCP would become all but meaningless since there would be no regulatory nexus to implement them.

To illustrate an example, Kern County would be the lead California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) agency for most energy-related projects built on private lands in Kern County. Through the DRECP, mitigation for that project would follow recommendations in the Plan. However, if Kern County is not a DRECP participant, there is no incentive for either the county or the project applicant to follow recommendations and requirements spelled out in the DRECP. The assessment and mitigation for plant impacts would default to the status quo practices for each county's planning department, which represents a very low bar compared to the NCCP-related measures emerging from the DRECP.

One potential solution to the county issue is for the DRECP to plan much of the mitigation and conservation on public lands, specifically on Bureau of Land Management (BLM)-managed lands. This presents a separate set of problems related to ensuring durable conservation on public lands, since measures and assurances written in place today could be reversed by an administrative order from Washington D.C. at anytime in the future. Therefore, the question of how our federal government can and will ensure durability of new and additional conservation on public lands has become a key issue in on-going DRECP policy discussions.

Parallel to the tangle of policy-related DRECP discussions is the non-stop work to develop a science-based conservation plan. At this stage in the DRECP, the CNPS Conservation Program is focused on gathering as much expert opinion as possible on the proposed plant conservation measures as they become available for review. A draft NCCP/HCP EIR/EIS is scheduled for release in the fall of 2013 when most of the conservation recommendations will be available for public review for the first time. In April 2013, the CNPS Conservation Program was awarded a $20,000 grant from the Giles W. and Elise G. Mead Foundation to coordinate the collection of comments and recommendations from CNPS desert experts, and advocate their inclusion into the DRECP.

Thus far, the DRECP process has been far from perfect, and large-scale desert energy projects remain controversial. Nevertheless, CNPS has an opportunity to be the voice for desert plant species and communities that will be affected by our nation's energy transformation and we continue to keep this as a top priority of the Conservation Program.

Establishing a State Policy on Native Plants

The CNPS Conservation Program has been assisting the California Fish and Wildlife Commission to develop a State Policy on Native Plants. The Policy will make general, positive statements about the benefits and beauty of California's native flora and make recommendations for the CFWC and the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to strengthen conservation of native plants through regulations, management, and education. In practice, Fish and Wildlife Commission policies provide guidance for the CDFW's management of state natural resources, and therefore a State Policy on Native Plants will provide a foundation upon which the Department can strengthen existing and establish new tools and resources for plant conservation.

CNPS Conservation Director Greg Suba and Legislative Analyst Vern Goehring presented an initial draft of the Policy to CNPS Chapter Council delegates in June. Based on feedback from CNPS delegates, a revised draft has gone back to Commission staff and work on the next iteration is on-going. Once both the Fish and Wildlife Commission and the Department of Fish and Wildlife staff are in synch with the Policy, a final draft will go before Commissioners for approval by the end of 2013.

Upcoming CNPS Workshops

Further details on all workshops are available here. Contact Josie Crawford for more information.

Vegetation Rapid Assessment
Instructors: Julie Evens and Jennifer Buck-Diaz
UCNRS Sagehen Field Station
September 10-12, 2013

WorkshopThe course will be a combination of lecture and field exercises in vegetation sampling with a focus on collecting data using the CNPS-CDFW 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. The workshop begins Tues. afternoon at 4:00 pm with an evening presentation followed by two days in the field learning sampling methods. Register online here.

Cost: CNPS members $310; Non-members $355
Camping or cabin fee @ $30/night: $60

Chapter Events - A Sampling from Around the State

To connect to your local chapter, or to find other events in your region, see this page for a list and map of CNPS chapters.

Monterey Bay Chapter

Point Lobos French Broom Weed Bash
Saturday, August 3, 1:00 - 4:00 PM

Join us on these 1st Saturday of the month visits to the beautiful Monterey pine forest on the east side of Point Lobos. We’ll use several techniques to remove French broom and help restore this area that wants to thrive with native plants. Meet at 1pm in Carmel at the Rio Rd. Park n’ Ride (across from the Chevron Gas Station). All supplies provided. Bring a friend, water, and a snack. Contact Bruce Delgado at 831-277-7690 for more info.

El Dorado Chapter

Field Trip: Forestdale Divide, Alpine County
Saturday, August 3, 9:00 AM

Meeting time and location: 9:00 AM at the Perry household. Duration: All day Level of difficulty: Moderate. Easy trails, but at higher elevations, to 9000 feet. Bring: Lunch, water, hiking shoes, stick, camera, binoculars, light jacket, thunderstorms with rain are a possibility at these elevations. Please RSVP by Wednesday evening for meeting location. Contact Annie Walker for more information. We will be driving up Mormon Emigrant Trail, to Highway 88 and over Carson Pass to the Red Lake junction, and driving south from there. This is a native surface road with some rough spots. High clearance is desirable. Car pooling is suggested. Highlights: We can access part of the Pacific Crest Trail and do a loop hike. We will be visiting glacial tarns as well as dry volcanic slopes. Species to be seen include mountain meadow plants. Shrubs and trees include mountain ash, twinberry, red elderberry, huckleberry oak, red fir, mountain hemlock, and whitebark pine.

Sacramento Valley Chapter

Field Trip: Grass Lake
Saturday, August 3, 10:00 AM

Join Carol Witham and Greg Kareofelas for a leisurely walk in and around the sphagnum bog at Grass Lake. Grass Lake is located at Luther Pass along Highway 89 between Lake Tahoe and Carson Pass. If you want to bounce on the bog, bring old sneakers that you won’t mind getting wet. We will meet at 10:00 AM at a “pull off” along the west side of the Highway 89 just north of Luther Pass. From Highway 88, go north on Highway 89 for ~4.1 miles. From Highway 50, go south on Highway 89 for ~7.1 miles. The “pull off” parking area consists of a gravel area between a paved pull off lane and a series of wooden 6x6” posts. It is the only pull off with wooden posts. We will finish up around 2:00 pm. Contact Carol Witham. A current species list conforming to The Jepson Manual Second Edition will be available at the field trip.

Orange County Chapter

Wildflowers of Orange County and the Santa Ana Mountains at Fullerton Arboretum
Wednesday, August 7, 6:00 PM

We are joining with the wonderful people at the Fullerton Arboretum who are having a special night including a presentation and book signing. Books will be available and both authors will be there to sign your copy! Note: There will be a $5 per person charge that will go towards defraying the evenings expenses and help the Arboretum's Gardens. A chance to get your signed book, enjoy a presentation, and help support the beautiful Gardens at the Arboretum! For more details, click here.

San Diego Chapter

Old Town State Park Native Plant Garden Work Party
Saturday, August 10, 1:00 - 3:00 PM

We'll trim shrubs with other like-minded volunteer neatniks. August is still early enough in the year so the plants can form buds to burst into bloom when the rains arrive between October 2013 and June 2014.
The Native Plant Landscape illustrates some of the many useful plants that were part of the Native American daily life before the arrival of Europeans in the late 1700's. Weavers' rush deergrass and narrow-leaf milkweed continue to thrive under our care so perhaps by next summer we can harvest some and learn how to craft objects with their slender stems and tubular blades.

The Landscape is at the far west end of Old Town State Historic Park, at the corner of Taylor and Congress Streets in San Diego, opposite the Trolley/Train/Bus station. Come by trolley, bus or train, or if you drive, park for free in the shady lot at CalTrans across Taylor Street. Enter the CalTrans lot at Taylor and Juan Street, park, then recross and walk to the corner of Taylor and Congress and enter by the adobe sign. Have sun protection and bring bottled water gloves and hand tools - especially pruners - if you have any. If not we have tools to share.

Milo Baker Chapter

Rare Plant Treasure Hunt: Salt Point State Park
Saturday, August 10 - Sunday, August 11

Join CNPS and California State Parks for a Rare Plant Treasure Hunt on the Sonoma County Coast. We’ll explore Salt Point State Park’s diverse and unique habitats, including redwood forests, stunted pygmy cypress forests, coastal prairies and coastal scrub. It’s a great chance to see some very showy rare plants, and also a good opportunity to practice plant ID skills. California State Parks is graciously providing us with two campsites for the night of August 10th. On Saturday evening, we’ll have a potluck dinner with everyone on the trip, so be sure to bring something tasty! Participants can also join for a single day if they prefer not to camp. We’ll hike between 2 and 7 miles each day, depending on the group’s interest and on how much time we spend botanizing. Check out this link for more info on the Park. Prior to the trip, we’ll provide more specific info on meeting location and a participant contact list so that people can arrange carpooling. Please send RSVPs and questions to Danny Slakey..

Mount Lassen Chapter

Field Trip: Cold Boiling and Crumbaugh Lakes
Sunday, August 11, 8:30 AM

Meet at Chico Park & Ride west lot (Hwys 32/99) in time to leave at 8:30 AM. Wear sturdy shoes. Bring lunch, water, sun/insect protection, hiking gear, and money for ride sharing. Take your Lassen Volcanic park pass if you have one. We will drive approsimately 81 miles from Chico to the trailhead in Lassen Park at 7380 ft elevation. The hike is an easy 3 mile roundtrip in a little traveled area- excellent for birds, wildflowers, and deer. Call leader for alternate meeting place. Leaders: Gerry Ingco 530-893-5123, Wes Dempsey 530-342-2239.

Santa Clara Valley Chapter

Lecture: Plant Name Changes- What and Why? The Jepson Manual, 2nd Edition
Friday, August 23, 7:30 PM to 9:00 PM

A Talk by Botanist Toni Corelli, Chapter Chair for Rare Plants. Join Toni for a photographic journey through our local flora showing major changes at the species and family level. Learn what happened in the Snapdragon (Scrophulariaceae) and Lily (Liliaceae) families and how we can learn to easily distinguish the new segregates while learning the new names. Los Altos Library, 13 S. San Antonio Rd., Los Altos, CA 94022.

North Coast Chapter

Oregon Fireweed Rare Plant Treasure Hunt
Saturday, August 24

The small, pink flower of Oregon fireweed (Epilobium oreganum) is easy to mis-identify because it is similar to the more common Epilobium ciliatum, which we find growing uninvited in our gardens. Oregon fireweed inhabits wet mountain meadows and is set apart by a four-parted stigma. It is very rare and known from only two verified sites in Humboldt County, both in the South Fork Trinity watershed on Six Rivers National Forest. This is a Forest Service Sensitive plant species and any new finding would be a significant contribution and allow Six Rivers to protect the site and provide additional data on its habitat. We will visit a known site of the Oregon fireweed to familiarize everyone with the species. We will also visit a historic location of rattlesnake fern (Botrypus virginianus), a species widespread on the continent but very rare in California. The area we will be visiting is about 2.5 hours from Arcata on a steep, Forest Service road (5N07). We will carpool in all-wheel-drive or better vehicles. Walking will mostly be in the vicinity of Forest Service roads in moderate to steep terrain. Meet at Pacific Union School (3001 Janes Rd., Arcata) at 9:00 a.m. or at Burnt Ranch Store between 10:30 and 11:00 am. Some people may camp out Friday night at Burnt Ranch Campground in Shasta-Trinity National Forest and/or Saturday night at Dave Imper's house in Willow Creek. For more information contact John McRae at 707-441-3513 weekdays.

Contributors and Photo Credits

  • Aaron Sims
  • Vern Goehring
  • Greg Suba
  • Josie Crawford
  • Stacey Flowerdew
  • Mark Naftzger
  • Aaron Sims - La Panza mariposa lily (Calochortus simulans) California Rare Plant Rank 1B.3
  • Al Schneider - Poliomintha incana
  • Stacey Flowerdew - CNPS Legislative Consultant Vern Goehring meets with Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro and Assembly Committee on Natural Resources, Senior Consultant, Mario DeBernardo
  • Naomi Fraga - Limestone monkeyflower (Erythranthe calcicola)
  • Greg Suba - Desert Wash
  • Josie Crawford - Workshop Participants




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