California Native Plant Society

Vegetation Program

Vegetation Sampling and Mapping in the Southern Sierra Nevada Foothills Region


Sampling vegetation in a vernal pool on Table Mountain on BLM property near McKenzie Preserve. Photo by D. Roach.

Vegetation Program staff initiated a project to survey and map vegetation in the southern Sierra Nevada foothills in 2008, with funding from the state Department of Fish and Game. We received a generous private donation in 2010, which allowed us to expand these efforts. The ecoregion includes part of Madera County south to Kern County, from the edge of the valley floor to around 1,200 meters in elevation.

We conducted hundreds of surveys in southern Mariposa, Madera, and Fresno Counties during the peak spring bloom in 2010, documenting a great diversity of herbaceous vegetation types.  These surveys were conducted in collaboration with the Sierra Foothills Conservancy, California Department of Fish and Game, Millerton Lake State Recreation Area, Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service. Approximately 975 surveys have been completed so far through this project.


Danielle Roach sampling vegetation in a vernal pool on Big Table Mountain. Photo by S. Harmon.

Using the field surveys results, we completed a vegetation map of an 11,640 acre pilot area, which includes McKenzie Preserve at Big Table Mountain and lands adjacent to Millerton Lake.  The vegetation map contains 26 different map units. All woody vegetation types are described and mapped at the alliance-level, and a total of 1,611 polygons are delineated. This vegetation map will enable detailed assessments of plant, vegetation and wildlife habitat resources throughout the mapping area.

Mapped types include the commonly occurring blue and interior live oak woodland alliances (Quercus douglasii and Q. wislizeni), and small stands of buckeye (Aesculus californica) and foothill pine (Pinus sabiniana) alliances. Shrubland types include wedgeleaf ceanothus (Ceanothus cuneatus) and silver bush lupine (Lupinus albifrons) alliances, while riparian vegetation includes Fremont cottonwood (Populus fremontii) and red willow (Salix laevigata) alliances.

You can view our vegetation report here, or you can access it from our Reports page; to receive the map or map data electronically, please send a request.

Sincere thanks go to our anonymous donor, who has enabled the CNPS Vegetation Program to move forward in assessing this ecologically important region in 2010-11.


Example of the resulting map showing a mosaic of vegetation, including an interior live oak (Quercus wislizeni) stand highlighted in blue.

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