California Native Plant Society

The CNPS Rare Campaign

Celebrating over 45 Years of Evaluating and Protecting California’s Rare Plants

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Rare Campaign

What are the goals of this campaign?

The Rare Campaign is a fundraising initiative to promote rare plant science, education, conservation and appreciation of California’s rare plants. We aim to raise $100,000 by the end of the CNPS 2015 Conservation Conference. For years the Rare Plant Program has operated on a minimal budget that supports the work of only one to two staff people. Our goals are to sustain the funds necessary for ongoing research, monitoring, and conservation evaluation of California’s rare plants, and to further the development and maintenance of the CNPS Inventory.

Why is this research important?

Although the majority of plants in the CNPS Inventory do not have official State or Federal Listing status, many of them qualify for Listing, and their inclusion in the Inventory can afford them similar protections. While adding new plants to the CNPS Inventory is an essential task of the Rare Plant Program, re-evaluation of plants already included in the Inventory is equally important. This research is essential as it helps in the determination of which plants qualify and do not qualify for Listing, while also providing the tools necessary to promote their protection.

How Will the Funds be Used?

  • Continuation of Status Review Process and preparation of Rare Plant Status Reviews
    Without the regular review and data maintenance of California’s rare flora, the conservation status of a given plant could quickly become out-of-date, while plants in need of conservation attention could potentially go unnoticed. It is therefore imperative that we keep status information as up-to-date as possible, by regularly reviewing plants for addition, status change, or removal from the CNPS Inventory. Funds will go to help sustain the evaluation of California’s rare flora, while also decreasing our current list of plants in need of review.
  • Address California Rare Plant Rank (CRPR) 3 taxa
    Most of the plants on CRPR 3 have taxonomic questions, yet the issues surrounding them are generally unknown to researchers and/or not funded to pursue. This campaign will provide funding for the development of one- to three-page summaries of CRPR 3 taxa that can deliver the information needed to move them to their appropriate conservation status. Additionally, educational grants will be provided to students to research these taxa (see below).
  • Re-evaluation of California Rare Plant Rank 4 taxa
    This category includes plants of limited distribution, and requires monitoring to determine if the plants should move to a higher conservation status or be removed from the CNPS Inventory outright. Due to limited resources, however, the status of CRPR 4 plants has gone relatively unchecked, and a preliminary analysis found that up to 200 of them may need to be changed. Funding will help us discover the actual number of CRPR 4 plants deserving status changes, and support their full review through the status review process.
  • Rare Plant Program Assistant Position
    This position allows the Rare Plant Program to process additional status reviews in order to significantly reduce the total number of plants in need of review. As a direct result of this position, the Program was able to complete over 100 rare plant status reviews in 2012, amounting to over twice the number of annual reviews completed, on average, in the past. Through this campaign effort, we will secure additional funding for this position or, if possible, hire an additional full-time program assistant.
  • Online Inventory, 8th Edition
    The CNPS Inventory is a free online program to view, query, and export information on California’s rare plants; however, it is expensive to maintain. Funding will help with mandatory updates and maintenance, bug fixes, functionality improvements, and other enhancements recommended by users.
  • Maintain the Rare Plant Treasure Hunt Program
    Nearly half of what we know about rare plant distributions throughout California is out-of-date. The Rare Plant Treasure Hunt is a citizen science initiative that has not only effectively worked to increase our knowledge about historical rare plant distributions, but has also informed us of populations previously unknown to science. Funding from the Rare Campaign will help continue the work of this essential program. Additional information about the Rare Plant Treasure Hunt can be found here.
  • Educational grants for student research on rare plants
    Rare plant research goes a long way in furthering our knowledge about the evolutionary relationships of the California flora, as well as aiding in effective conservation objectives. Educational grants will be provided to students conducting research on California’s rare flora that promotes conservation, genetics, and evolutionary botany, and especially for the study of CRPR 3 taxa.
  • Support to the Rare Plant Programs of local CNPS Chapters
    Volunteers from the 34 CNPS Chapters collect a substantial portion of the data found in the CNPS Inventory and provide tremendous help in researching and reviewing the status of California’s rare flora. Funds will be allocated to help continue to foster the research and data provided by this essential volunteer base. This may include the purchase of GPS cameras and GoogleEarth Pro software that volunteers need to document and monitor rare plant occurrences throughout the state.


Press and Media Information

Video: CA Rare Plant Treasure Hunt by Rina Shaikh-Lesko 3:54
Video: CNPS Rare Plant Treasure Hunt 3:14


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Aaron E. Sims
Aaron is the staff Rare Plant Botanist for the California Native Plant Society. He implements the CNPS Rare Plant Review Process in addition to maintaining and updating the CNPS Inventory. He also regularly assists with rare plant conservation work and various other tasks pertaining to rare plant science.

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