The development of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) has arrived at the first of what will surely be many hurdles to overcome between now and its projected 2013 completion date.
The goal of the DRECP is to design a nature reserve that will conserve desert plants, animals and ecosystem functions in the face of streamlined permitting of desert renewable energy projects. Yet our ability to provide the most effective conservation measures for desert ecosystems is limited by our current knowledge of the desert. A key data gap in establishing a biological baseline for a comprehensive desert conservation plan is an accurate vegetation map. Currently there is no detailed vegetation map for the western Mojave Desert where many renewable energy projects are planned. The DRECP Independent Science Advisors report recommends that both an alliance level vegetation map and a special botanical or vegetation features map be assembled for this area, much like the one that was developed for the central Mojave in 2004. But neither state nor federal agencies can find the estimated $3-4 million to fund the effort, and both are looking to the energy industry for help. Over 150 vegetation alliances occur in the planning area and will need attention- especially those that are composed of native species, are endemic to the state, have limited distributions, and are essential to the well-being of other plant and animal species. How the DRECP resolves the need to fill data gaps with an expedited timeline to complete a permissible plan will be the work of the DRECP Stakeholder group and Consultant team, and will ultimately come down to decisions by state and federal lead agencies. More information about the DRECP can be found at DRECP.org.
Upon taking office, Governor-elect Jerry Brown will have the ability to appoint or reappoint four new members of the California Coastal Commission: two local government elected officials (one from the North Coast – Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, and one from the South Central Coast – San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties), and two at large public members. His appointees will play a key role in the balance of votes on the Commission.
CNPS members living in North and South Coast Chapters can play an important role by helping to identify nominees with a proven record in coastal protection. An environmental coalition conference call for each region (North Coast and South Central) will be set up in early December to discuss possible nominees. If you have prospective nominees, please send information about them to organizers Jerry Meral and Fran Gibson, ideally including resumes. If you wish to participate in this process and the conference calls, or if you have any questions, please contact Jerry Meral at the email above.
Ideal nominees would include people with long, proven, and consistently good voting records on environmental issues. They would also have some record of citizen activism on environmental issues prior to election to public office. Over the past few years, the Commission has had a mixed record in terms of achieving the goals of the Coastal Act to protect the public’s right to coastal access, making the coast accessible to people of diverse backgrounds and incomes, and conserving and enhancing the health of coastal natural resources such as wetlands, wildlife, and plant habitat.
Each year, conservation groups produce a Coastal Commission Conservation Vote Chart that rates the votes of the appointees of each appointing body (Governor, Speaker, Senate Rules). Vote Charts for years 2000-2008 are available online, and the current Coastal Commission roster is viewable via their webpage.
Acting on a budget over three months late, the Governor vetoed nearly $2 billion of appropriations on top of the billions already cut by the Legislature. Included in the October cuts was the elimination of 75% of the funding for the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) to perform its statutory duty to ensure that timber harvests on private forested lands do not harm or threaten the State’s fish and wildlife. The Legislature had approved sufficient funding for 23 positions, continuing approximately the same level of harvest review as in previous years. Even at this level of funding, DFG was able to fully review and monitor only a portion of all timber harvest plans (THPs) submitted. The Governor's cuts eliminate 17 of the 23 positions. DFG is currently developing a plan to transfer timber harvest review staff to other duties so they can return to their former positions should funding be replaced. Until such time, THP-associated impacts to botanical resources will be reviewed and assessed on behalf of the State by California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CALFIRE) staff.
The California Native Plant Society has initiated efforts, along with other conservation organizations, to identify the impact of the cuts on DFG's ability to protect fish, wildlife, and native plant resources. We have written to Director McCamman asking him to explore alternative plans and alternative funding sources, and we will explore whether the vetoed funds affect the legal status of THPs approved absent a DFG review.
As many in CNPS know, serious concerns existed prior to the Governor’s veto regarding the adequacy of native plant protections required by CALFIRE and the Board of Forestry. The THP review budget cuts add a significant new complication and challenge in efforts to protect native plants in forested regions of California.
CNPS is seeking a student applicant to perform communications work in the Conservation Program beginning in January of 2011. This is a part time paid position that will require approximately 15-18 hours/week. Closing date: Dec, 15, 2010.
Full internship description and applications instructions are available here.
Contact Josie Crawford for more information. Further details will be available at http://cnps.org/cnps/education/workshops/index.php by December 15.
Jan 31-Feb 2
University of Redlands and surrounding field sites
Instructors: Todd Keeler Wolf, Julie Evens and John Menke
Three day combination of lecture, computer lab exercises, and field exercises. Fees: CNPS members $665; Non-members $690
Rare Plants of the Central Valley
Instructor: Carol Witham
Fees: CNPS members $150; Non-members $175
California Rangeland Monitoring
Lower San Joaquin Valley
Instructor: Jennifer Buck-Diaz
Options for single day or 2-day.
1st day - Maintaining grassland biodiversity and basic plant ID. 2nd day - Grassland vegetation sampling using Relevé and Rapid Assessment methods. Prices to be announced shortly.
Measuring and Monitoring Plant Populations
Instructor: John Willoughby
Three day combination of lecture and field exercises
Fees: CNPS members $395; Non-members $420
Wetland/Riparian Plant Identification
Instructor: David Magney
Fees: CNPS members $295; Non-members $320
Riparian Ecology and Restoration
Instructors: Bruce Orr and Amy Merrill
Three day combination of lecture and field trips
Fees: CNPS members $395; Non-members $420
Vegetation Rapid Assessment/Relevé
Instructors: Julie Evens, Deborah Stout
One evening lecture and two field days
Fees: CNPS members $310; Non-members $335
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.
Santa Clara Valley Chapter
Thursday, Dec. 2, 7:00-8:30 PM
Learn how to garden for habitat and wildlife from a professional. Jim Howard has been managing ecosystem restoration projects for the past 15 years. He has worked for the U.S. Peace Corps, the timber industry, two Resource Conservation Districts, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Forest Service. He holds a degree in Forest Management from Humboldt State University and a degree in Water Resources Management from Duke University. Location: San Carlos Public Library, 610 Elm St., San Carlos, CA 94070. (408) 715-7020 for more info.
Mount Lassen Chapter
Centerville Flume Field Trip
Sunday, Dec. 5
Meet at the Chico Park & Ride west lot (HWY 32/99) at 9 am or phone for secondary meeting place. Bring lunch and water. On our annual stroll along one of Chico's most delightful walks we will see the last of summer's blooms (lessingia, snapdragon, camprum) and first of the winter ones (manzanita, bay, mistletoe). We have recorded over 24 species in bloom along here over the past years. Leaders Gerry Ingco 530-893-5123 and Wes Dempsey 530-342-2293.
Los Angeles/Santa Monica Mountains ChapterProgram: Birds of Malibu Lagoon
Tuesday, Dec. 14, 7:30-9:00 PM
James Kenney has been involved in nature photography for over 35 years, from black and white darkroom techniques to digital photography. After becoming interested in digital photography a few years ago, James Kenney has concentrated on photographing the avian fauna of Malibu Lagoon. One of the results of this new endeavor is his self-published book on bird photography and another is this program. James Kenney is the writer-photographer of "Birds of Malibu Lagoon,” a book on bird photography, and photographer for Milt McAuley's well-known field guide, "Wildflowers of the Santa Monica Mountains." Location: First United Methodist Church, 1008 11th Street, Santa Monica.