California Native Plant Society

Rare Plant Treasure Hunt

The rare Conejo buckwheat, Eriogonum crocatum, CNPS List 1B.2
The rare Conejo buckwheat, Eriogonum crocatum, CNPS List 1B.2. -Credit Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. (click for larger image)

Call for Treasure Hunt Leaders in California Parks and Land Conservancies

The Statewide Rare Plant Treasure Hunt (RPTH) is looking for resident botanists, volunteer coordinators, and natural resource technicians from county, regional, state, and national parks and recreation areas, as well as land conservancies, to host and lead Treasure Hunts. In 2010 the RPTH had several park systems including Santa Clara County Parks, East Bay Regional Parks, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and Santa Monica National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) coordinate and sponsor Treasure Hunts with great success. This is a great opportunity to engage staff and volunteers while collecting valuable data on rare plants.

Read what Tarja Sagar, Resident Botanist for the SMMNRA had to say about the Treasure Hunt:

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area welcomed CNPS Rare Plant Treasure Hunt as an avenue to train botany and natural resource interns in rare plant surveys. We found this to be an effective way to educate students about rare species' ecology, about the threats they face, as well as open dialog about what the loss of rare and uncommon species means to the full range of native diversity. We targeted 4 species with some Federal, State, or CNPS T &E [Threatened and Endangered] status (Astragalus brauntonii, Calochortus plummerae, Deinandra minthornii, Eriogonum crocatum) but also one globally rare unlisted species (Nolina cismontana). The interns conducted surveys of 21 populations, several of which had been noted during post-fire monitoring but had not been carefully assessed.

Michael Chassé , volunteer coordinator at the The Golden Gate National Recreation Area, led weekly Treasure Hunts in 2010. This is what he says about his experience

The Golden Gate National Parks provide habitat for close to 50 plant species considered rare, threatened, or endangered by the California Native Plant Society. As a matter of policy, the National Park Service monitors and manages all of these species in the same manner as federally protected plants, where possible. With so many plants and so much ground to cover, how do we make such a mandate possible?  By getting community volunteers involved in our work.

In partnership with CNPS, the Golden Gate National Parks have hosted a number of Rare Plant Treasure Hunts in several locations across the Bay Area in 2010. Highlights for the year included trips to: the Nicasio Highlands and Bolinas Ridge in Marin; Lobos Creek Valley in San Francisco; and Mori Point in San Mateo County.  These volunteer events build the capacity of our monitoring efforts by covering more ground and surveying a greater number of species each year.  And volunteers get a "behind the scenes" look at some of the most spectacular landscapes in the Bay Area.

Occasionally we find unexpected treasures, such as a population of Marin Checker Lily (Fritillaria lanceolata var. tristulis) on the headlands near Muir Beach. We look forward to more rare plant treasures in 2011!

We thank Tarja Sagar and Michael Chassé and all of the partners of the RPTH in making this program a success. Please contact Amber Swanson or Josie Crawford at to get involved.


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