Field surveys and assessments by the CNPS Vegetation Program contribute to our understanding of California vegetation, and they also allow us to gain new and exciting information about rare plant and animal species. Recently, CNPS staff identified two rare taxa, the Western single-spiked sedge (California Rare Plant Rank 2.2) and the Coast horned lizard (CDFW-Species of Special Concern), during field sampling. The Western single-spiked sedge was found as a dominant plant in a small patch of wet meadow near Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains. Upon making a collection of the plant, the staminate inflorescence, as seen in this photo, was thought to be unidentifiable. However, with the help of the Carex Working Group, the specimen was verified as Carex scirpoidea ssp. pseudoscirpoidea. This subspecies had not been previously recorded south of Kings Canyon National Park, and its bioregion was thought to extend only as far south as Sequoia National Forest. The collection will be sent to the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden herbarium where it will be housed and used for the verification of other possible populations of the species in the Transverse Ranges or Southern Sierras. This range extension confirms the importance of additional ground-based meadow assessments in this region, and likely new species or range extensions could continue to be discovered there.
In 2011, a Coast horned lizard, Phrynosoma blainvillii, wandered into a small survey plot where CNPS was sampling grasslands. Such a prehistoric looking animal deserved numerous photographs, and being botanists, it wasn’t until we were back in the office that we realized it was a horned lizard. The taxonomy of horned lizards has gone through numerous revisions, including lumping and splitting (a familiar concept to those who are getting used to the new Jepson Manual), and while the name may change in the future, this was the first recorded occurrence of the animal in Madera County. Though the historical ranges of many plant and animal species covered the extent of the San Joaquin Valley, the available habitat has become quite fractured, making the documentation of this lizard significant!
Finding rare species in new places, like the ones described above, is one of the highlights of field botany. At CNPS, we know that field sampling can reveal hidden surprises and provide important information for habitat conservation. We hope that by keeping our boots on the ground, the California flora and fauna will be better understood, protected, and continue to amaze future generations.
Kern County Chapter
Field Trip: Piute Mountains with Alison Sheehey
Saturday, June 1, 7:45 AM
Contact: Lucy Clark; RSVP Deadline: 8PM, May 30, 2013. Please join us for the first in a memory trip to the Piutes with Nature Ali herself as our guide. We will take Saddle Springs Road, which leads through grassland, chaparral, pinyon-juniper woodland (the burnt remnants of the Piute Cypress Botanical Area), and ponderosa/Jeffrey pine forest. Ali reports the temp drops about 20 degrees along the trip, as we go up to Piute Peak! The entire roadside along the 15 miles of travel is worthy of botanizing. Birds and butterflies are a bonus. Rare plants along the route include the Streptanthus cordatus var piutensis (Piute jewel flower); Eriogonum breedlovei var breedlovei (Piute buckwheat); Delphinium inopinum (unexpected larkspur); Hesperocyparsis nevadensis (Piute cypress); Calochortus palmeri (Palmer’s mariposa lily) and Perideridia pringlei (adobe yampah). This will be an all-day trip. There is no potable water, so bring plenty! Learn more about the area at this link. Saddle Springs Road turns off Bodfish-Caliente Road (Lake Isabella Blvd). It is a rough narrow road that has few turnouts, so carpooling is mandatory. High-clearance vehicles are required. If you have a high-clearance vehicle and will bring it, please let Lucy know, so we can provide a ride for all who want to join us. See the chapter website for further trip details.
El Dorado Chapter
Field Trip: Little Bald Mountain, Georgetown Ranger District
Saturday, June 1, 9:30 AM
The original date for this hike was later. It has been changed to take advantage of the early season. The first part of the day we will visit Little Bald Mountain near Georgetown, to see serpentine plant species. Walking distance is only about two miles, but on a rough rocky road. Plant highlights here are Packera layneae (Layne’s butterweed), Allium sanbornii var. sanbornii or A. sanbornii var. congdonii. There will be a plant list available. Afterwards, if people are still interested and want to stay out longer we can join Tom Petersen, local writer and hiking trail enthusiast. He will lead us on an approximately 2 to 3 mile round trip within the old Bottle Hill Ditch. We will be traveling to the site on an unimproved, native surfaced, forest road. A high-clearance vehicle is best. Meeting Time and Meeting Place: 9:30 AM at the Georgetown Library on South Street. Duration: 6 hours to all day, depending on interest. Level of Difficulty: Moderate. We will be walking on a rocky dirt road; and later in an old water ditch along a north facing slope. Poison oak is a possibility. What to Bring: appropriate shoes, lunch, water, sunscreen, and hat. Contact Information: If you have questions, email Annie Walker. An RSVP is not necessary.
Mount Lassen Chapter
Field Trip: Upper North Fork Feather River & Caribou Road
Sunday, June 2, 8:30 AM
Meet at Chico Park & Ride west lot (Hwys 32/99) at 8:30 am. Bring lunch, water, sun/insect protection, hiking gear, and money for ride sharing. We will drive a total distance of 65 miles, one way. Mostly we will be driving Hwy 70 along the scenic Feather River Canyon to the Caribou Arm of the river where we will make roadside stops. We expect to see Shasta lilies and lady’s slipper orchids where small streams cross the road. The road ends at P.G & E nostalgic 1920’s town site and power house. The hike is three-miles round trip. The trail is level but not maintained and may be overgrown. The river is crossed twice on foot-bridges. We are hoping for show of cascading white-water. OPTION: Some folks may rather see the areas natural features from the paved road. Do not take children on this trail. Leaders: Gerry Ingco 530-893-5123, Wes Dempsey 530-342-2293.
CNPS Highway clean-up
Sunday, June 9, 9:00 AM
Leader: Scott Hetzler. Meet at the intersection of Highway 395 and Pine Creek Rd., west of 395, at 9.00 AM. We will try to be done by 1:00 PM. For more information contact Scott at (760) 873-8392.
East Bay Chapter
Field Trip: Mount Diablo Falls Trail, Middle Trail
Sunday, June 9, 9:30 AM - 3:30 PM
This is a moderate round trip of 5 miles, with 1200 feet elevation gain on the way out. It will be mostly downhill on the return trip, and we expect to be out 5-7 hours. Bring lunch and at least 1.5 liters of water. We will start on Clayton Oaks trail, and proceed from there to Bruce Lee Spring trail, lower Donner trail, and on to Wasserman and Falls trails.
Expect to see Coyote mint (Monardella douglasii) and tincture plant (Collinsia tinctoria) in flower, along with several paintbrush species, several Clarkia species, Sedum radiatum, Campanula exigua, Indian Pink (Silene californica), Chaparral pea (Pickeringia montana), California milkweed (Asclepias californica), Phacelia spp., maybe Mount Diablo Jewelflower, and lots of common species. We should arrive back at the parking lot around 3-4 PM. See the chapter website for directions and further details.
Los Angeles/Santa Monica Mountains Chapter
Evening Program: Rewilding Walgrove Elementary School - The Making of a Schoolyard Habitat in Venice, CA
Tuesday, June 11, 7:30 - 9:00 PM
Capitalizing on the removal of 6 bungalows from the school site, Team Walgrove seized this opportunity to remove asphalt and to replace it with an ensemble of habitat islands representing several of Southern California’s native plant communities. Zara Bennett, former professor of French turned schoolyard greening activist, will discuss the collaborative process that has led to the creation of Walgrove’s schoolyard habitat — from conception to build day.
In many ways, the Walgrove experience is representative of that of many Los Angeles Unified School District schools who decide to green their campus through community-led initiatives. This story of an ambitious project led by three mothers—and supported by countless partners — illustrates the process of schoolyard greening in the LAUSD, as well as the key components of a successful green team at the school site. Bennett will sketch out the Walgrove model, as well as the critical phases of the Wildlands’ planning, design, and future maintenance. First United Methodist Church, 1008 11th Street, Santa Monica.
Santa Cruz Chapter
Field Trip: Loma Prieta with Randall Morgan
Sunday, June 23 10 AM - 12 PM
Our largest and most diverse expanse of "northern mixed chaparral", a community with more shrub species than any other in this area, many in full bloom. Also a completely different assortment of flowering herbs, some that occur nowhere else in this county. We will stray into Santa Clara County for the best highlights, however, choice items like Stream Orchid, Clarkia breweri, a rare Ceanothus, a rare Hoita, etc. This is also a primo area for locally rare birds that like to stick to the high ridges. Should be perfect time of year for just about everything. Mostly easy hike unless you want to continue up to the summit. Meet at the summit of Old San Jose Rd. at the intersection of Hwy. 35. Bring water and layered clothing.