The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) is a collaboration among local, state, and federal agencies to streamline renewable energy project and transmission line permitting while conserving biological and natural resources in the California desert. If successful, the DRECP will direct energy projects to disturbed lands within desert development zones while providing for durable conservation of desert wildlife and habitat, including plant species and communities.
The DRECP is focused on the desert lands of seven California counties. Four of these have recently received state funds to develop a Renewable Energy Ordinance for their respective County General Plans in conjunction with the DRECP. The funding for counties to develop or update planning documents to assist the permitting of renewable energy projects comes from a grant program established earlier this year via Assembly Bill X1 13.
Local county endorsement of the DRECP will be key to the success of the Plan, and to the success of the Plan's conservation goals for desert plants especially. The most progressive, and potentially most effective, DRECP plant-related conservation requirements are found within the Natural Community Conservation Plan (NCCP) elements of the DRECP. Implementing the NCCP will require local counties to sign onto the Plan as formal participants. Once a county agrees to be a Plan participant, applicants who approach them with project proposals, or who seek county lands as compensatory mitigation for project impacts, will encounter county supervisors and planning staff who support the DRECP's conservation goals, and who will encourage project applicants to abide by them.
However, counties within the planning area have expressed a variety of reasons why they are wary of the Plan, including the loss of developable private lands and associated tax revenues to conservation easements, the unplanned resource burden of providing emergency services to remote project sites, and a desire to avoid the negative visual impacts of industrial facilities and transmission lines.
The AB X1 13 grant program was created to encourage counties to collaborate with DRECP agencies, and explore ways to meet local, state, and federal energy goals together. While Kern, Riverside, and San Diego Counties are still considering whether to participate in the grant program, the following counties are currently program grant recipients.
San Bernardino County is using a $700,000 grant to developing a Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Energy Commission and California Department of Fish and Wildlife, establishing that the County of San Bernardino will coordinate with the above agencies in preparation of the DRECP. The county is also preparing a Renewable Energy and Conservation Element for their County General Plan over the course of the next 15 months.
Los Angeles County received a $603,000 grant to revise renewable energy policies during updates to their County General Plan and Antelope Valley Area Plan. The revised policies will guide development of a LA County Renewable Energy Ordinance and associated environmental impact report.
Inyo County will use a $700,000 grant to update their Inyo County Renewable Energy Ordinance, established in 2010, and prepare an environmental impact report.
State and federal agencies continue to work on the DRECP, announcing recently to delay the public release of the draft Plan and associated environmental review documents until 2014.
Look for more updates about the DRECP process from the CNPS Conservation Program in future CNPS e-newsletters.
CNPS Inventory Updates and Tips
E. ertterae - Sarah DeGroot
Newly described eriastrums rank their way into the CNPS Inventory
Two eriastrum (or woolystars) species that were recently described as new to science by David Gowen (JBRIT 7(1):21-24, 2013) are rare, threatened, or endangered in California and are being added or reviewed for addition to the CNPS Inventory. Both of them are endemic to California, meaning they occur nowhere else in the world. Below is some information about these rare and beautiful eriastrums. At the time of this writing, these species have not been added to the CNPS Inventory, but please be sure to check the Inventory to see additional information about them in the future. Additionally, if you are interested in reading the status review proposals to add these species to the Inventory, or would like to review the comments relating to them on the Status Review Forum, please contact CNPS Rare Plant Botanist, Aaron Sims at .
Lime Ridge eriastrum (Eriastrum ertterae)
As its common name indicates, Lime Ridge eriastrum is known only from the Lime Ridge Open Space of Contra Costa County. It occurs in fine sandy soil in openings or along the edges of chaparral, generally in alkaline or semi-alkaline habitat. Lime Ridge eriastrum is limited to only three small populations within about 1/2 mile apart. Although there is seemingly little to no threats to this species at the moment, if one were to arise, it could easily affect the entire population. Lime Ridge eriastrum is currently being proposed for addition to California Rare Plant Rank 1B, rare in California and elsewhere, of the CNPS Inventory.
E. rosamondense - Sarah DeGroot
Rosamond eriastrum (Eriastrum rosamondense)
This eriastrum is only known from the Rosamond Dry Lake area north of Lancaster, in Los Angeles County. It grows on low hummocks in alkali flats and scalds throughout chenopod scrub that is adjacent to vernal pools, and is often on sandy and silty loam soil. The entire distribution of Rosamond eriastrum spans only a few miles between Rosamond and Lancaster, and evidence suggests it may have been known from a larger distribution prior to urbanization. It is seriously threatened by residential and other developments, and also threatened by off-highway-vehicles, military activities, non-native grasses, past and current agricultural use, and illegal dumping. Rosamond eriastrum is currently being proposed for addition to California Rare Plant Rank 1B of the CNPS Inventory.
CNPS Inventory Tip
Screenshot 1 (click to view larger)
Screenshot 2 (click to view larger)
Screenshot 3 (click to view larger)
Did you know that with just a few mouse clicks you can find out the total number of plants currently included in the CNPS Inventory? The Rare Plant Program is often asked how many plants are currently in the Inventory or how many plants have a California Rare Plant Rank of 1B. Thankfully, with the new Online Inventory 8th Edition, the answer to these questions is as simple as making a few clicks with your mouse.
The answer to these questions is found simply by going to the InventoryAdvanced Search page, then clicking on the check boxes next to the six individual California Rare Plant Ranks. If you would like to know the total number of plants currently included in the Inventory, select all six boxes (see screenshot 1). The total will then auto-generate in the right hand column under Total Matches. Alternatively, if you’d like to only know the total amount of plants included in a single California Rare Plant Rank, simply select only the rank in which you are interested in, and the total will again display in the Total Matches column on the right (see screenshot 2). Lastly, if you’d like to know the plants that are included in the total shown, simply scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the “View Matching Plants” button in the bottom right corner.
The Criteria Matches and Total Matches columns in the Advanced Search page are extremely useful for gaining quick statistics and information about plants in the Inventory. If, for instance, you are interested in knowing how many eriastrum plants are currently in the Inventory, simply type “Eriastrum” into the Genus section at the top of the search criteria, and the total number will automatically be generated and shown in the Matches column (see screenshot 3). Many of the questions I often get asked can be answered by doing some simple criteria searches in the Advanced Search page of the Inventory. Try it for yourself today, and as always, if you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask me at !
Responding to Wildfire in California
CNPS Veg Crew examine post-fire growth on a hike in the Sierras.
In the aftermath of wildfires that swept through California this summer, alarmist voices are once again calling for the suspension of environmental protections to expedite and increase logging of post-fire habitat and mandate increased commercial logging of unburned forests. Such activity would seriously undermine the ecological integrity of forest ecosystems on federal lands.
We have seen this post-fire response before. Following catastrophic wildfires in 2002, similar efforts to suspend regulations and expedite commercial logging occurred. Below are passages excerpted from an August 2002 letter from CNPS to then U.S. National Forest Chief Dale Bosworth, reprinted here to demonstrate CNPS's long-standing position on forest wildfire and fuels management, and to reiterate the need to break the cycle of misunderstanding that plays out time and again in response to wildfires in the United States.
Though some points in the full letter could be updated by over a decade of wildfire research and data, the core messages are as relevant today as they were 11 years ago. Wildfires, large and small, are a natural and necessary ecological agent of disturbance in California. Where there might be opportunities to treat forest fuels in order to reduce fire intensity and promote the resilience of post-fire forests, treatment decisions must focus on areas adjacent to human communities, and must foster- rather than degrade- sustainable forest ecosystems dominated by native species. Rather than push through regulations based on blame and fear, we must let science direct the most appropriate management course forward.
Lastly, the comments in the following excerpts refer to fire and fuels management specific to forested systems. Appropriate management strategies for forests are not directly translatable to California's shrub-dominated chaparral systems.
From August 2002:
CNPS is aware that misunderstanding has yet again arisen from the terrible wildfires that are occurring throughout the western United States this season. We are deeply saddened by the loss of life and property that these fires have caused. However, we are also disappointed by the poor policy conclusions that appear to be emerging from the fires. Some in the timber industry, some elected officials, and even some Forest Service staff claim that failure to log national forests is the primary cause of the severity of this fire season and that uncompromising opposition to logging by the environmental and scientific communities is the primary factor that has prevented logging, allowed fuels to build up and made national forests more flammable. These claims are false. Those who are making them should cease to do so.
These claims have of course been made in the past. They have consistently been abandoned because they are supported by neither science [n]or history. It is unfortunate that time must once again be wasted in discussion of these absurd theories, particularly because they have only become increasingly groundless as research and advocacy on fire and forest management have progressed. The purpose of this letter is to clarify the position of CNPS regarding fire and fuels management on national forests.
Like most in the scientific and conservation community, CNPS is neither in favor of or opposed to logging per se. Instead we advocate forest, fire and fuels management practices that:
minimize danger to lives and property
create and maintain sustainable, productive forest ecosystems dominated by viable
conserve rare and imperiled species through their natural ranges
protect water quality and supply, soils and other forest ecosystem services and
Pursuant to these principles we have consistently supported forest management projects that reduce fuels and fire risk adjacent to populated areas. Near populated areas, we support mechanical removal of biomass, thinning of small trees and brush, installation of fuel breaks, safe use of prescribed burning and other methods to accomplish this goal. We, like others in California's scientific and conservation community, have repeatedly asked both the Pacific Southwest Region and individual National Forests to develop a fuels treatment prioritization based on threats to lives and property. In addition, fuels treatment should be prioritized based on quantitative, science based assessments of site specific fire hazard (fuel loading and fire risk) so that scarce staff and funding can be used where they will have the most effect.
CNPS advocates the restoration of fire, through careful use of prescribed and prescribed natural fire, to areas where fire suppression has disrupted normal fire regimes. The expanded use of ecologically appropriate prescribed fire and prescribed natural fire would accomplish dual goals: the improvement of forest health and the reduction of fuel loading and therefore fire hazard. Ecologically appropriate fire is a fire regime that attempts to replicate the season of burning, intensity of burning and the interval between burns that an area experienced before European settlement. A basic principle of ecosystem management and conservation biology is that because species and ecosystems evolved through exposure to pre-European environmental conditions, those are the conditions that are most likely to maintain long term species viability and ecosystem health.
CNPS recognizes that prescribed fire can be unacceptably dangerous in areas adjacent to populated areas. In many such cases we also recognize that mechanical removal of fuels is the only safe method of fuels reduction. We also often support the mechanical removal of fuels prior to prescribed burning to reduce fire intensity and the risk of escape. However, non-fire treatments, such as mechanical fuels reduction, have never been shown adequately to mimic the ecological impacts of fire. These methods should therefore be used where protection of life and property prohibits use of fire.
Regarding the idea that “logging” reduces fire hazard and, by extension, that opposition to “logging” increases fire hazard, it is important to recognize that there are many types of forest management practices which are sometimes or always called “logging”. Thinning of small understory trees, commercial logging of large trees, selective logging, clear cutting, logging of plantations, and logging in late seral forests and roadless areas may all be called “logging”, but have very different effects on resources and on fire hazard. Timber harvest also has very different impacts on fire hazard depending on the age and health of the forest being logged. As noted above, CNPS is not opposed to “logging” in general, but we do oppose timber harvest where it is dangerous or ecologically harmful.
Volunteers Needed for CNPS 2015 Conservation Conference
Most of you received the Save the Date postcard in the mail recently and know that we are knee-deep in planning the Big Party, the 50th Anniversary year kick-off event, the CNPS 2015 Conservation Conference: 50 years of progress and promise! It will take place in San Jose, at the DoubleTree by Hilton, January 13-17, 2015. Workshops and field trips will be on Tues and Wed, the 13th and 14th and the scientific conference will be Thursday-Saturday, January 15-17. We will have lots of space in 2015 with almost the entire hotel to ourselves- meeting rooms galore and sleeping accommodations all in one building with our own disco bar and stage. It’s plush and easy.
This event takes a village to put together! Several hundred volunteers contributed their knowledge and talents for the last two conferences and we will need the same amount of help this time. If you would like to get in on this high energy event we have lots of opportunities for participation. Help make this an event to remember by lending your talents, be they herding cats, planning a field trip, presenting your research, or expressing your love of native flora through the arts.
There are great registration rebates available for volunteers. Planning committee members who put in 32 or more hours over the next year may be eligible for a full rebate. Partial rebates are available for smaller commitments or volunteering on site at the conference. All volunteers must be current CNPS members to be eligible.
Right now we need assistance for several key planning committees:
Outreach Committee- 2 people
Volunteer Coordinator- 2 people
Arts Committees - Botanical Arts, Landscape Art, Photography, Poetry reading, and Music - 2-3 people each
Audio Visual coordinators- 2 people
Field Trips Coordinators 2-3 people- should be local to San Jose or Bay Area
Silent and live auctions and Drawing - up to 5 people
Media and Publicity- 2-4 people (1-2 should be local to San Jose or Bay Area)
Local Information (things to do and see in the San Jose area)- 1 person local to San Jose or Bay Area
Santa Clara Valley Chapter liaison
East Bay Chapter liaison
CNPS Membership Makes a Great Gift!
Do you know someone who appreciates native plants and relishes the variety of breathtaking landscapes we enjoy in California? Maybe your neighbor is an avid water-wise gardener, your niece is studying plant biology at university, or your father-in-law has albums of wildflower photos he has taken over the years. Stumped as to what to get them for the holidays?
A membership in CNPS makes a great gift! In addition to plant sales, seminars, gardening workshops, field hikes, evening programs, and conservation activies driven by 34 CNPS chapters across the state and Baja, CNPS members enjoy discounts at nearly 40 nurseries and garden stores across the state. Click this link to see a list of all CNPS membership benefits, including subscriptions to Bay Nature and Pacific Horticulture, discounted environmental consulting, and landscape design services.
It's easy to give a gift membership. Simply fill out the online membership form and provide the name and address of your recipient in the "Comments" field. You can't give a greener gift!
Upcoming CNPS Workshop
Vegetation Mapping Workshop
Instructors: Dr. Todd Keeler-Wolf (CDFW), John Menke (AIS), and Julie Evens (CNPS)
Location: CNPS, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CNFW), and Aerial
Information Systems (AIS)
University of Redlands and the Potrero unit of the San Jacinto Wildlife Area
Dates: Feb- 11-13, 2014
Course Description: Participants will learn about vegetation sampling,
classification, and photo interpretation in this hands-on workshop presented
jointly by CNPS, CDFW and AIS. In field and computer lab exercises you will practice creating a vegetation map using Geographic Information Systems, collect reconnaissance samples supporting an existing vegetation classification, and practice techniques of photo interpretation, delineation, and attribution. You will also learn how to validate a vegetation map through accuracy assessment. Experience with GIS is recommended but not required.
Monday, December 2, 7:00 - 8:30 PM
Program: A Native Garden to Attract Birds
Birds make a garden come alive. They are a source of endless entertainment: dashing, fluttering, feeding, jumping, scratching, drinking, bathing, and flying. These foraging creatures are independent spirits, but if you provide what they need – food, water, shelter, and nesting spaces – they will return to your urban garden again and again. Toby Goldberg is the programs coordinator for the Santa Clara Valley chapter of The Audubon Society. Milpitas Library, 160 N. Main St., Milpitas, CA 95035.
Wednesday, December 4, 7:30 PM
Program: Evolutionary History of California's Unique Plant Landscapes
Presented by Kristina Schierenbeck, Professor of Plant Science & Evolutionary Biology - CSU Chico. This presentation will interpret the evolutionary history of plant and animal life in California in a geological context, along with describing the regional patterns that emerged. Life history (dispersal, reproduction) and ecology (habitat specialization, competition, predation, migration,availability and connectedness of habitat) play important roles. The evolutionary history provides a context for conservation throughout the biogeographic provinces that roughly define California, as well as being a wonderful story of natural history. Chico Branch Library, 1st and Sherman Ave., Chico, CA 95926.
Wednesday, December 11, 7:30 PM
Native Plant Show and Tell
An informal evening for anyone to share photos, artifacts, readings, or food relating to native plants and their habitats. Call 407-7686 for more info. Six Rivers Masonic Lodge, 251 Bayside Rd., Arcata, CA 95521.
Sunday, December 15, Noon - 2:00 PM
Member Potluck and Program
Greenwood Community Center in Elk: 6075 S Highway 1, Elk, CA 95432. Bring a dish to share, your own liquid refreshment, dishes, and utensils. Chapter President Nancy Morin will speak on "Rare Plants of the Mendocino Coast". Lunch at noon will followed by the annual meeting at 1 PM to elect the 2014 slate of chapter officers.
Everyone is invited to share some favorite photos of native plants, wildlife, habitats, or gardens—local, California, or anywhere in the world. Keep it to five minutes to make sure that everyone gets a turn, and that we get home before midnight. Digital photos must be .jpg, .png, or .psd format. Submit them on a flash drive, portable hard drive, CD, or DVD. Video presentations must be in a .mov (preferred), .avi, .wmv, or .mpeg format. The book table will be open for last minute gifts and refreshments will be provided, but feel free to bring something to share. Irvine Duck Club, 15 Riparian View, Irvine, CA 92612.
Wednesday, December 25, 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Fresh Air Holiday Hike at Big Rock
Feel like getting some fresh air over the holidays? It doesn’t get any fresher than the top of Big Rock Ridge, the second highest peak in Marin! On very clear days, you can see the snow-capped Sierra, and previous hikes at this time of year have found a dozen or so native plants in flower as the trail winds through several habitats on this south-facing slope. It’s a bit strenuous at seven miles and 1500 feet altitude gain. This hike is especially suitable for beginning plant enthusiasts. Leader Dabney Smith. Meet at the Big Rock trailhead. From Hwy 101 in San Rafael, take Lucas Valley Rd. west about five miles; the trailhead is beside the big rock at the crest of the hill. Rain cancels; check with Dabney if in doubt.
Contributors and Photo Credits
ESRI, et al. - Map of DRECP coverage area
Sarah Degroot - Eriastrum ertterae
Stacey Flowerdew - CNPS Veg Crew examine post-fire growth on a hike in the Sierras