California Native Plant Society

CNPS eNewsletter

February 2014

Southern Sierra Foothills Mapping Project

Bald eagle perched in a blue oakBald eagle perched in a blue oak above Eastman Lake. Photo by Daniel Hastings. [+] view larger

Blue oak woodlands with California annual and perennial grasslands. Photo by Daniel Hastings.Blue oak woodlands with California annual and perennial grasslands. Photo by Daniel Hastings. [+] view larger

Over the winter months the CNPS Vegetation Program has been working on a vegetation map of approximately 35,000 acres in Madera County. The mapping area includes lands owned by the Army Corps of Engineers (Eastman and Hensley Lakes) and private landowners within the central Sierra Nevada Foothills. In February, three CNPS staff spent one week in the field checking polygons and vegetation types in the area. Along with lands open to the public, we were able to access two private properties with conservation easements through the Sierra Foothill Conservancy.

The vegetation in this area is dominated by blue oak (Quercus douglasii) woodlands and California perennial and annual grasslands. Other common vegetation types include interior live oak (Quercus wislizeni) woodlands, wedgeleaf ceanothus (Ceanothus cuneatus) shrublands, and riparian alliances such as narrow-leaf willow (Salix exigua), button-willow(Cephalanthus occidentalis), and Fremont’s cottonwood (Populus fremontii).

The mapping area lies adjacent to the already mapped northern Sierra Nevada foothills region and provides one more piece towards completely mapping the southern Sierra Nevada foothills region. Funding for this project was generously provided to CNPS by an anonymous donor.

If you would like to donate funds for vegetation mapping in California, please click here and designate 'Vegetation Program'. If you have interest in a very specific geographic area, please contact the Program directly at !

Interior live oak woodland with emergent ghost pines on the Fresno River. Interior live oak woodland with emergent ghost pines on the Fresno River. Photo by Sara Taylor. [+] view larger
Button-willow stand near Hensley Lake. Photo by Jaime Ratchford. Button-willow stand near Hensley Lake. Photo by Jaime Ratchford. [+] view larger

Assessment of Whitebark Pine (Pinus albicaulis) in California

Whitebark Pine (Pinus Albicaulis) Photo 1: Whitebark Pine (Pinus Albicaulis). Photo by Jeff Bisbee. [+] view larger

Mountain Pine Beetle attack Photo 2: Mountain Pine Beetle attack. Photo by Sara Taylor. [+] view larger

CNPS working in collaboration with the US Forest Service (USFS), initiated field surveys in the summer/fall of 2013 to assess the extent and status of whitebark pine (see photo 1) in areas lacking ground surveys in California. Three national forests in the Sierra Nevada (Eldorado, Sequoia and Stanislaus) and four national forests in the Cascades and Klamath Mountains (Lassen, Klamath, Modoc, and Shasta-Trinity) were selected for field surveys, and specific site locations were targeted for assessment based on potential occurrence of healthy stands in high elevations within the western-most range for the species.

Assessment of whitebark pine in California is important for various reasons. Whitebark pine (WBP) is currently the most susceptible of the five-needle pines to mortality due to the combined effects of climate change-induced disturbance. Mortality across much of its range is attributed to white pine blister rust (WPBR) outbreaks caused by the non-native invasive pathogen (Cronartium ribicola) and the native mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) attacks. Decimation of populations in the northern Rocky Mountains has led Canada to list the species as endangered in 2010. The current and potential loss of this species in high mountains of California poses serious threats to biodiversity and losses of ecosystem services, since whitebark pine is one of only a few tree species in these settings. Whitebark pine loss would be a major threat to the Clark’s nutcracker, a charismatic bird that resides in California’s high altitudes. These two species are keystone mutualists, where the loss of one species could have a profound impact upon the ecosystem as a whole.

After three months of field surveys, little evidence of white pine blister rust was detected among the whitebark stands visited. Mountain pine beetle attacks (see photo 2), however, were prevalent but not decimating populations on a large scale as seen in the Rocky Mountains. Overall, most of the 90+ whitebark pine stands visited had good to excellent site quality and viability by California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB) standards.

Yet, to fully understand whitebark pine health in our state, more areas need to be visited and assessed; for example, more assessment is needed in Inyo National Forest where whitebark pine stands dominate at high altitudes of the eastern Sierra Nevada. We hope that with further assessments and long-term monitoring of stands, we can understand and evaluate the fate of whitebark pine in our state.

U.S. EPA to Present Top Award to Sacramento Scientists

Downingia, dodder, popcorn flowers, and field Owl's Clover at Mather Field.The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest Jared Blumenfeld will present Sacramento, California based scientists (and Sacramento Valley Chapter members) Dr. Robert Holland and Carol Witham the Region’s prestigious Environmental Champion award at a ceremony at the Splash Education Center in Mather, Calif. on Tuesday, March 4.

Dr. Robert Holland and Carol Witham will be recognized for their work protecting California’s vernal pools—a threatened variety of wetland—through education, research, and outreach. The non-profit Splash Center was founded in part by Ms. Witham and provides children educational lessons about vernal pools through classroom instruction and field exploration.

The award presentation is Tuesday, March 4, 2014, 10:00 am, at the Splash Education Center, 4426 Excelsior Road, Mather, CA 95655. If you plan on attending, please RSVP with David Yogi, (415) 972-3350.

Help Cal-IPC Reprint "Don't Plant a Pest!" Brochures

The California Invasive Plant Council (Cal-IPC) is getting ready to reprint some of their fantastic regional "Don't Plant a Pest!" brochures, a great outreach tool to help keep wildland weeds out of landscaping. Both the Mount Lassen Chapter of CNPS and Friends of Bidwell Park have pledged financial support for the reprinting of the Central Valley version of "Don't Plant a Pest!" If you would like to help, please contact Doug Johnson at Cal-IPC to suggest changes to the brochure or to offer financial support for the reprinting.

Upcoming CNPS Workshops

Lupine and Workshop Participants - Josie Crawford

For full workshop descriptions and registration, please click here. Questions? Email Josie Crawford, CNPS Education Program Director at .

March 11-12 Rare Plant Survey Protocols - A Scientific Approach
Taught by Heath Bartosh, Aaron Sims, with a lecture by Roxanne Bittman
Location: CDFW Yolo Bypass Visitors Center Davis and West Sacramento
Cost: CNPS members $310; Non-members $345

March 13: Online Tools for botanists and biologists
Taught by Roxanne Bittman, Sandra Summers
Location: Office of Training and Development, Sacramento, CA
Cost: $150 (may be taken together with workshop above or separately)

April 1-2: Introduction to Plant Family Identification
Taught by David L. Magney
Location: Casitas Springs, Ventura County
Cost: $310 CNPS members; $345 non-members

April 15-17: Spring Flora of the Eastern Mojave: a Focus on Five Formidable Families
Taught by Jim Andre and Tasha LaDoux
Location: UC Granite Mountains Desert Research Center, Mojave National Preserve, eastern Mojave
Cost: CNPS members: $360; non-members $395

April 29-May 1 Measuring and Monitoring Plant Populations
Taught by John Willoughby
Location: UC Santa Cruz Arboretum, Santa Cruz, CA
Cost: CNPS members: $395; Non-members: $430

May 27-29: Herbarium Specimen Collecting for Floristic Work
Taught by Nick Jensen and Heath Bartosh
Locations: Tejon Ranch Conservancy, Lebec and Tehachapi Mountain Region, Kern County
Cost: CNPS members: $360; Non-members: $395

Early June (TBA): Vegetation Rapid Assessment/Relevé Workshop
Taught by Julie Evens and Jennifer Buck-Diaz
Location: Orange County, CA
Cost: Members $330; Non-members $365

September (TBA): Vegetation Rapid Assessment
Location: Shasta or Tehama County
Cost: TBA

Click here to register or read full workshops descriptions.

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. Even more events from CNPS chapters and partners can be viewed on the Horticulture Events Calendar.

Orange County and San Diego Chapters
Spring Plant Sale at Tree of Life Nusery
Saturday, March 8, 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Learn about the many benefits you can enjoy by being a member of the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) - San Diego and/or Orange County Chapter! Friendly and knowledgeable chapter members will be at the nursery offering their gardening wisdom to you. CNPS members always enjoy 10% off plant purchases at Tree of Life Nursery. Free plant for members with plant purchase. Use this shopping trip to outfit your garden with the right native plants for your space and join CNPS that day to receive the discount too! Outstanding talks by experts scheduled at 9:30, 10:30, 11:30, and 1:30. See the Orange County Chapter homepage for details. Tree of Life Nusery is located at 33201 Ortega Highway, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675.

North Coast Chapter
Program: Early Cretaceous Flora of the Klamath Mountains
Wednesday, March 12, 7:00 PM

Mihai Tomescu –Early Cretaceous Flora of the Klamath Mountains – a student-led fossil discovery near Redding, California. Late 19th - early 20th century reports lead to the discovery of layers rich in anatomically preserved plant fossils. The fossil flora reflects the plant diversity of the Californian coast 120 million years ago. Many plant groups, as well as other types of organisms are present, yet some of the fossils pose problems of identification; others may tell the story of their journey from the parent plant to their final resting place in the sediments of a convulsed tectonic plate margin. Six Rivers Masonic Lodge, 251 Bayside Rd., Arcata. Refreshments at 7:00 p.m.; Botanical FAQ's at 7:15 p.m., and program at 7:30 p.m.

Redbud Chapter
Wildflower Walk at Edward's Crossing
Sunday, March 23, 10:00 AM-2:00 PM

The Edward’s Crossing trail has some of the most varied and dependable wildflowers in our area — even in a year with limited precipitation. We will head down-river from the trailhead for about a mile or so, have lunch, and then work our way back. Parking is limited at the trailhead, so we will carpool from the Nevada County Government Center (Rood Center) on highway 49 in Nevada City. Meet the leader(s) at the demonstration garden next to the county jail at 10AM.

San Diego Chapter
Garden Native Tour 2014
March 29 and 30, 9:30 AM-4:30 PM

Can you achieve beauty and enlightenment in your garden? Yes! Our self-guided tour features 15 spectacular, real-life gardens that demonstrate successful conservation philosophies while nourishing your senses with intoxicating blooms and inspiring designs. The Garden Native Tour presents all regions of San Diego County on a rotating basis. This year, we highlight homes and public gardens from the North County area. For more info, or to purchase tickets, click here.

Mount Lassen Chapter
Spotted Fawn Lily and McNab Cypress, Lassen National Forest
Sunday, March 30, 9:00 AM

Meet at Chico Park and Ride west lot at 9 a.m. Bring lunch, water, sturdy shoes ,sun and insect protection and money for ride sharing. The group will hike about 1.5 miles down a serpentine slope to a head dam on the West Branch of the Feather River for lunch. Under the cypresses are masses of yellow and white spotted fawn lilies, with penstemon and fritillary along the trail. The return trip has an uphill elevation gain of 900 feet from the river. Not recommended for small children. Call 342-2293 for secondary meeting site.

Contributors and Photo Credits

  • Julie Evens
  • Jaime Ratchford
  • Sara Taylor
  • Dan Gluesenkamp
  • David Yogi
  • Josie Crawford
  • Stacey Flowerdew
  • Mark Naftzger
  • Daniel Hastings - Bald eagle perched in a blue oak above Eastman Lake.
  • Jeff Bisbee - Pinus albicaulis
  • Stacey Flowerdew - Close-Up of a Vernal Pool at Mather Field
  • Josie Crawford - Workshop participants



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