View Full Version : Use of Rare Native Plants in Restoration Projects

04-08-2003, 06:37 AM
Recently on mitigation/restoration project that I am working on, a client requested that we replace Dendromecon rigida with Dendromecon harfordii on our imported plant list. I did a little web research and found several sites that refer to harfordii as 'rare.' I had thought that there was some issues with using rare natives without special care. Is it OK to specify rare natives with the same standard of care as other natives? If not, why? Is there an official list of rare CA natives?</p>

04-09-2003, 06:23 AM
Re: Rare plants and projects - There are two lists of rare California Plants. The CNPS 'Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants of California' is the most scientifically accurate and up-to-date. The Dept. of Fish & Game`s list, available as 'Rarefind' is the official list. Answers to your other questions would depend on the details of the project. True restoration means using local, site-specific plants, and seeks to re-create a historic, natural landscape. If the mainland form of Dendromecon is present on or near the site, then it would be ecologically damaging to plant the island form, var. harfordii there. The mainland form evolved as it did in response to environmental conditions. The island form did likewise, so it likely would not be suited to live in the wild away from its natural habitat. The mainland form may well have some characteristics that make it best adapted for its native region, and, importantly, for the wild animals that also live there. Using var. harfordii could cause genetic mixing, leading to poorly adapted progeny. OK, that`s the long answer. A shorter answer is that it may not matter if there is no Dendromecon in the area, or if this is really a garden project. I`m aware of revegetation projects in wildlands that used local plants, but selectively. For example, the landowners may want cuttings made of only those coffeeberry plants that are 'attractive' to them. This is not really restoration, though it might be considered 'partial' or 'selective' restoration. I must say, if the Dept. of Fish & Game is going to ask people to do 'mitigation' projects, then it ought to provide some education about restoration, revegetation, reclamation, rehabilitation - all those 'R' terms. It isn`t fair to leave it to the people hired to do the work to try and explain the issues to landowners. Please do read the CNPS 'Landscaping Guidelines' found under Policy Archives on the main CNPS website. This document talks about the importance of maintaining genetic integrity in planting projects. Another good source of information is the website of Las Pilitas Nursery, located in inland San Luis Obispo County. If the landowners could visit there and listen to the owner, Bert Wilson, they`d come away with their heads full of new ideas. Maybe they would be contented with some other shrub with big, showy yellow flowers around their home, if this involves a homesite. If no home, then I`m not sure why they would be so anxious to have the island form of Dendromecon! There may be plants that would not spread into the wildlands that would grow near their home in a garden setting. Not clear what these would be, not knowing where your project is located. We all need to broaden our awareness of the world around us. It`s fun, it`s an adventure, and like most good adventures, we often end up somewhere we didn`t expect to be. Good luck, Lori Hubbart</p>

04-09-2003, 09:16 AM
Thank you for the detailed and quick reply! This native planting is part of the Port of Oakland?s mitigation for the big Wharf and Railyard project, converting old military base property for maritime shipping use. The new park, Middle Harbor Shoreline Park, is quite interesting, and includes about 30 acres of traditional recreation area with some of the best views of SF, the Bay Bridge, and the Port area, a 'restored' marsh which may turn out to be quite a marine life area, and 12 acres of native plant habitat. Part of the park is now open, so if someone reading this wants to visit, I encourage them to do so. For a map and info about the park, visit: http://www.portofoakland.com/maritime/vision_04.asp ?then flip through the index from there. It would be difficult for me to characterize the native plant habitat as restoration. It is located on a man-made spit, running parallel to the shipping channel. The top one to fifteen feet or so is recently dredged clean Merritt Sand. As far as I know, this particular habitat does not exist in nature anywhere nearby. The conditions are difficult wind, salt, almost pure sand. Some natives have shown up at the site Silver Dune Lupine, Beach Evening Primrose, Coyote Brush, Salt Marsh Grass. Lots of the usual weeds have also shown up. We will be constructing irrigation throughout, remove the weeds, and plant about 10% of the area. I think that the other 90% may be planted as another mitigation project. I inherited this project mid-way and met with a few experts, including Peter Holloran. Yes, I did also call Bert Wilson, and have visited his website countless times. They were all a great help. I ended up eliminating a lot of spec?d plants, including Bush Lupine, and added a few good ones. With a little editing, Bert?s site could be a great book! I do realize the limitations and possible problems with this mitigation, as I think most everyone here now understands. The planting, though, is a fairly small commitment now, and we can adjust. For future restoration projects, I have recommended considering sites away from the Port, where we may get much more valuable mitigation for the dollar, and in places where there are volunteers, plans, dreams, etc. But the decision about these things usually lies with BCDC if they remain, the RWQCB, etc. They usually like the mitigation to be as near the project as possible, so that?s why we have this park in between all of these container terminals! It has it?s unique plusses, though, so I would recommend a visit. I think the public will like this place. </p>