Speaking Up

Tejon Ranch; Image: Richard Dickey

The Voice for Plants

CNPS has emerged as a leader in conservation campaigns to protect our last remaining wild spaces. CNPS members, staff, and coalition partners have worked tirelessly—often behind the scenes—to research, organize, testify, and advocate for native plant conservation.

The Quest to Protect a Stronghold of Biodiversity

CNPS and partners continued the campaign to protect Molok Luyuk, an area that is home to serpentine habitat, dozens of rare plant species, ancient blue oak (Quercus douglasii) woodlands, wildflower meadows, and one of the world’s largest stands of McNab cypress (Hesperocyparis macnabiana). For the second year in a row, Senators Alex Padilla and Dianne Feinstein alongside Representatives John Garamendi and Mike Thompson introduced legislation to expand Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument and permanently protect Molok Luyuk (pronounced “Ma.lok/ Lue.yoke”). Advocates including the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation are calling on President Biden to use the Antiquities Act to designate the national monument expansion, one of the 16 national monument efforts highlighted this year by the Center for American Progress. The Yocha Dehe are leaders in the effort, which would make the Monument one of the first in the nation to include Tribal co-management.  Visit expandberryessa.org to learn more.

Will California’s Remaining Grasslands Survive?

CNPS and the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) prevailed in a successful lawsuit, continuing the legal battle over the Centennial project. A court ruled that the plan to put 57,000 residents on remote, fire-prone wildlands 65 miles north of downtown Los Angeles violated the California Environmental Quality Act. This resulted from Tejon Ranchcorp’s flawed analysis of wildfire risk and failure to adopt adequate mitigation measures for greenhouse gas emissions. This has been a multi-year campaign for CNPS and CBD and the work continues. Read the latest developments here.

Tejon Ranch is home to one of California’s last and greatest native grasslands, the kind that prompted early admirers to write about fields of wildflowers painting the landscape. Californians shouldn’t have to make the choice between irreplaceable habitats or affordable housing. We deserve better.

– CNPS Conservation Program Director Nick Jensen

A Luxury Resort Threatens Vulnerable Habitat

CNPS and the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) prevailed in a lawsuit concerning Guenoc Valley Resort, an ultraluxury resort and residences proposed for southeastern Lake County. As part of a settlement with the California Attorney General’s office, the project has been amended and will go through a new environmental impact review and public comment period. CNPS and CBD remain co-litigants due to ongoing concerns over impacts to rare plants and vulnerable serpentine habitats  in this wildfire-prone region. Learn more.

The endemic and rare two-carpellate western flax (Hesperolinon bicarpellatum) in Lake County; Image: Nick Jensen
The endemic and rare two-carpellate western flax (Hesperolinon bicarpellatum) in Lake County; Image: Nick Jensen

Can a Tiny Daisy Save Conglomerate Mesa?

Conglomerate Mesa in Inyo County received good news when the Bureau of Land Management decided that the gold mining company seeking to do exploratory drilling on the mesa would be required to prepare a full Environmental Impact Statement to proceed with drilling operations. While the company prepares it, the rare endemic Inyo rock daisy (Perityle inyoensis) drew attention because it lives in the heart of the mining company’s proposed operation. A magnet for pollinators, the Inyo rock daisy’s entire range is approximately 20 square miles and it has no other home. In March, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the Inyo rock daisy may require protection under the Federal Endangered Species Act, starting a review of threats to the plant. This effort has been led by Botanist Maria Jesus who is the Conservation Chair of the CNPS Bristlecone Chapter; CNPS and CBD are co-petitioners for the ESA.

Alexii Sigona walking through oak woodland at Star Creek Ranch.
Alexii Sigona walking through oak woodland at Star Creek Ranch.

A Movement to Save a Sacred Place

Located in the heart of the Amah Mutsun people’s ancestral lands is a sacred Tribal Cultural Landscape called Juristac. Members of the Amah Mutsun are in active opposition to a proposed open-pit sand and gravel mine on the site. Indivisible from that area’s cultural significance are the native plants of Juristac, which are now under threat of mining activities. CNPS Conservation staff, the Santa Clara Valley Chapter, and the Santa Cruz Chapter submitted comments in opposition to a draft Environmental Impact Report and continue to work on outreach and lobbying efforts with the Amah Mutsun. Read our article in Flora magazine about the work to save Juristac.