Chapter Conservation Priorities

Blue oak at dawn. Credit: Ger Erickson

Making a Difference in Our Communities

From the North Coast to Baja, CNPS chapters are instrumental in securing native plant protection at the local level. This is critical, as some of the most impactful conservation measures are achieved locally. Our dedicated chapter conservation volunteers serve at stakeholder meetings, speak at public forums, inform litigation, and rally supporters. These are truly the native plant experts near you. Get involved!

Select a chapter to learn more

Alta Peak

Tulare County General Plan Update- 2011
Tulare County is in the process of updating their General Plan to include, among other topics, long-term growth planning outside of existing urban boundaries. CNPS Alta Peak Chapter conservation efforts are directed towards reading, commenting on, and influencing the planning process concerning development outside of the established urban boundaries. For more information, contact Alta Peak President and Conservation Chair Joan Stewart: tori2toli@ocsnet.net.

Bristlecone

Alkali Meadows Communities- 2011
Excessive groundwater pumping and insufficient management are threatening alkali meadows that host the most distinctive plant communities in Owens Valley. CNPS Bristlecone Chapter has been monitoring the conditions of these soils and plant communities to ensure impacts from groundwater pumping are avoided and mitigated. Access further information here.

Channel Islands

Newhall Ranch- 2011 DEIR / DEIS Comments
On January 3, 2011, CNPS Channel Island Chapter (CNPS-CI) and others filed suit against the California Department of Fish and Game in San Francisco County Superior Court for their certification of an EIR that insufficiently assessed the impacts on the watershed, surrounding riparian areas, and the San Fernando Valley Spineflower, a state-listed Endangered species and their issuing of a “take” permit (under §1081 of CESA) that will destroy about 25% of the San Fernando Valley Spineflower. Citing CEQA, CESA, and CDFG provisions, CNPS and others look to decertify the EIR and rescind the “take” permit. Channel Islands chapter has been the active lead on this development and CEQA issue for over a decade. CNPS and the Friends of the Santa Clara River provided comments on the DEIR / DEIS (CEQA / NEPA) through David Magney Environmental Consulting (DMEC) in August 2009. The DEIR / DEIS comments are accessible here.

More project information available here.

Mission Village Development – 2011 DEIR Comments
Newhall Ranch is now proposing a dense urban development for the easternmost portion of the Newhall Ranch Specific Plan area, just west of Magic Mountain. The County, through Impact Sciences, released a DEIR for the proposed development in October 2010. CNPS and the Friends of the Santa Clara River contracted with David Magney Environmental Consulting to critically review the biological resources section of the Mission Village DEIR. The DEIR comments are available here.

Landmark Village Development – 2010 DEIR Comments
Newhall Ranch is proposing a dense urban development for the river floodplain portion of the Newhall Ranch Specific Plan area, along State Route 126, and some areas to the south of the Santa Clara River, including three major bridges. The County, through Impact Sciences, released a Recirculated DEIR for the proposed development in late January 2010. CNPS and the Friends of the Santa Clara River provided comments on the DEIR through DMEC in March 2010. Access the DEIR comments here.

Naples/Santa Barbara Ranch- 2010 DEIR, FEIR Comments
The Santa Barbara Ranch development plan does not fully mitigate the 229 acres of grasslands, Coastal Sage Scrub associations, chaparral associations, vernal pools, seasonal wetlands, and coastal bluff scrub vegetation. All of these habitats/plant communities are habitat for rare plants, and the communities, particularly the grasslands, are of great concern to CNPS because of the historic and cumulative loss of this once very widespread habitat. Santa Barbara County approved the project in mid-November 2010 but development did not commence because the California Coastal Commission (CCC) did not approve the project. Currently, funding constraints between the developer and the bank are preventing the project from moving forward. Plant-related Draft and Final EIR (DEIR, FEIR, CEQA)comments prepared by David Magney Environmental Consulting (DMEC)available online here:
DEIR comments (2006)
additional DEIR comments (2008)
FEIR comments (2008)
CNPS Executive Director’s comment letter (2008))
Access further project information here.

Ventura County General Plan Update- 2010 General Plan Update
David Magney and CNPS Channel Islands Chapter (CNPS-CI) have been working on creating a nexus between lists of locally significant plant taxa and the Ventura County General Plan. Including these lists will improve awareness and importance of locally significant plant populations, identify in more detail where local flora occur, and provide special attention to locally rare flora in local ordinances. Participants in this project have written comment letters, attended public meetings, developed locally rare plants lists, and identified which CEQA sections strengthen the argument for locally rare species to be included in local planning efforts. Strategies for developing a locally rare plant list can be found here.
Contact CNPS-CI President David Magney for more information: david@magney.org

Support for Los Padres Wilderness designations – 2010 Support Letter
In 2010, CNPS Channel Island Chapter wrote a letter to U.S. Congressman Gallegly (R-CA) in support of proposed wilderness designation, “Los Padres Wilderness Support Letter” (Congressman support letter, Wilderness Act, Ojai Fritillary- Fritillaria ojaiensis, Flax-leaved Horsemint-Monardella linioides ssp. oblonga).

Dorothy King Young

Through legal action, the DKY Chapter, last year in collaboration with the Friends of the Gualala River, successfully stopped the Dogwood THP, a plan that proposed to greatly impact a magnificent floodplain redwood forest and wetlands in coastal Mendocino County.  The THP was modified only slightly, refiled, and recently approved by CalFire.

The second THP is similar to the first in that the botanical survey was completely inadequate, not conducted to protocol, and missed many common and rare plants.  A petition for the second THP lawsuit has been filed, and a temporary restraining order is being pursued.  The DKY Chapter of CNPS has the opportunity to join the second lawsuit and will re-evaluate its legal position and priorities before re-entering.

Another concerning project that the DKY Chapter is actively fighting involves a proposed OHV park on a 586-acre parcel that could impact approximately 20 percent of the last remaining 1,480 acres of Mendocino Pygmy Cypress Woodland, a rare and highly imperiled plant community limited in distribution to the Mendocino Coast.  The Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division of the CA Department of Parks and Recreation has so for provided over $3 million in grant funding without CEQA review to further the project, with more grants pending.  Cannabis cultivation projects also continue to be of concern, as Counties are expediting approvals without adequate environmental review and to the detriment of native plant communities.  The DKY Chapter has been collaborating with the Sanhedrin and North Coast Chapters to provide comments to the Counties and to the State agencies that are responsible for cannabis regulation.

To better respond to the high number of concerning issues impacting natural habitats in northern CA coastal areas, our three chapters are working together to define a conservation analyst position that will lead to the hiring of a part-time qualified individual to assist in our responses and to coordinate with CNPS Conservation Program headquarters.  In addition, DKY Chapter members are also conducting field studies with the CDFW Vegetation Classification managers to revise vegetation classification of the Mendocino Pygmy Cypress Woodland Alliance, and with CNPS’ Jennifer Buck-Diaz to map the vegetation on the BLM Stornetta property in Point Arena.

Renee Pasquinelli
DKY Chapter Conservation Co-chair (north)

Peter Baye
DKY Chapter Conservation Co-chair (south)

East Bay

Access the most current information on the Eastbay Conservation Blog: ebcnps.wordpress.com.

El Dorado

Pine Hill- 2011
CNPS El Dorado Chapter has been involved in litigation to protect endangered endemic plants under threat from proposed development. The Congregate Development Project would eliminate approximately 33% of the known plants of Pine Hill ceanothus, which is found only on gabbro soils in Western El Dorado County, and would eradicate 28 acres of essential rare plant habitat. CNPS El Dorado Chapter and the Center for Sierra Nevada Conservation (CSNC) filed a CEQA lawsuit for violations of and inconsistencies with the El Dorado County General Plan, and the Pine Hill Recovery Plan related to the project. There are current discussions over mitigation efforts if and when development begins. For more information, contact CNPS El Dorado Chapter Conservation Chair Sue Britting: britting@earthlink.net

Kern County

The CNPS Kern County Chapter has been working to support CNPS efforts to prevent revision of the DRECP, to argue against the Cal Fire Vegetation Treatment proposal, and to advocate against reduction of National Monument protections.  We partnered with Sierra Forest Legacy and Cal Wild in providing a a recent workshop for the community to become involved in federal lands advocacy.  With the help of the Tejon Ranch and Wildlands Conservancies in January 2018 we planted Bakersfield Cactus at a Nature Conservancy ranch.  We continue to monitor its progress.

Los Angeles/Santa Monica Mountains

The Los Angeles/Santa Monica Mountains Chapter is primarily focused on the following three conservation priorities.

  1. Sprawl development and resultant environmental harms take precedent. Destruction of open space, corridors, habitat, species species, and discontinuity by mostly affluent large scale homes, ‘island’ development, and associated infrastructure also increase atmospheric carbon loading, incidence of wildfire, vegetation type change, invasive species, diminished water resources, and air quality. Local jurisdictions notoriously disregard existing planning elements such as native tree ordinances, zoning, climate and sustainability initiatives to allow sprawl projects.
  2. A second chapter priority is ensuring Los Angeles County Regional Planning continues to apply current science and maintain inherent protections to the Significant Ecological Areas. Unfortunately these protections are not transferred to municipalities when unincorporated county lands are ceded to cities.
  3. Finally, the urban forest and especially its native trees are embattled mostly by urban infill, gentrification, “mansionization,” and lack of adherence to protected tree and landscape requirement elements. In lieu fee and mitigation bank options are increasingly developers’ option of choice for due diligence to removal of trees associated with their projects despite CEQA guidelines to the contrary.

Marin

Point Reyes National Seashore- 2011
Restoring this national park to its native habitat has been an ongoing process for several years. CNPS Marin Chapter volunteers have been actively removing invasive species in the park. Read the project flyer.

Milo Baker

Santa Rosa Plain Conservation Strategy- 2011
Since 2005, significant improvements have been made to conserving vernal pool habitats, botanical resources, and federally endangered species as part of the USFWS Santa Rosa Conservation Strategy (SRCS). CNPS Milo Baker Chapter has been involved in the development and implementation of the SRCS, and in developing conservation banks, working with landowners to comply with the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and ensuring proper mitigation strategies are implemented. Access further information here.

Mojave Desert

Off-Highway Vehicle Route Designation (WEMO Decision)- 2011
On January 31, 2011, a U.S. District Court sided with CNPS and other environmental groups that U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) did not adhere to its own regulations and violated NEPA, and FLPMA by allowing Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) use on thousands of miles of trails within the West Mojave planning area (WEMO). CNPS Mojave Chapter’s plant surveys, analysis of OHV impacts on unusual plant associations and riparian areas contributed to the decision requiring BLM to resign and assess the impacts of their routes. Access further information here.

Monterey Bay

Pebble Beach Development Plan- 2011
The Pebble Beach Company has changed its initial development plan near the SFB Morse Reserve to avoid destruction of rare and endangered plants; instead, the new development will expand into already developed areas adjacent to sensitive habitats in the SFB Morse Reserve. CNPS Monterey Bay Chapter has followed the development plan, supports the plan change, and continues to collaborate with the developers to establish buffers between the proposed residential units and sensitive habitats. For more information, contact CNPS Monterey Bay Chapter Conservation Chair Corky Matthews: mmatthews2@comcast.net.

Mount Lassen

The CNPS Mount Lassen is focused on two major conservation priorities:

Bidwell Park’s Peregrine Point Disc Golf Course
Over the last three years at several meetings of the Bidwell Park & Playground Commission (BPPC) and separately with City of Chico staff, representatives of Friends of Bidwell Park (FOBP) & Mount Lassen Chapter (CNPS) have expressed concern that mitigation and monitoring measurers at Peregrine Point Disc Golf Course have not been successfully implemented. These measures were prescribed by the legally binding Calif. Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) document adopted by the City for development of this course. Measures designed to promote the survival and health of species (blue oak, Butte Co. checkerbloom, Bidwells knotweed and wildflower fields) adversely impacted by disc golf are:

  • tree protection devices (disc deflectors),
  • relocation of baskets (holes) away from impacted oaks,
  • replenishment of wood chips around pads (tees) and baskets,
  • concentration of foot traffic on fairways with barriers,
  • interpretive signs throughout the course.

Monitoring the efficacy of these mitigation measures has not been done quantitatively in the last two years. The BPPC with City Staff need to adequately manage this conflict of natural and recreational resources.

A Butte County Oak Woodland Ordinance
A proposed Oak Woodland Mitigation Ordinance is in the initial stages of its drafting. Much more work by County Staff, interested stakeholders and the Planning Commission needs to be done to craft an ordinance and an accompanying implementation manual that protects the extensive oak woodlands in the foothills of Butte County. Currently, the draft language would primarily foster payment of in lieu fees for taking of oak woodlands by developers. These fees would primarily pay third parties for conservation easements to protect oak woodlands not necessarily in Butte County. Also, conversion of oak woodlands to grassland for livestock grazing by clearcutting oaks for firewood would not be discouraged by this Draft ordinance. Mount Lassen Chapter looks forward to working with those interested in fostering preservation of oak woodlands in accordance with the Oak Woodlands Management Plan (Butte County Oak Woodland Resource

Assessment Report – July 2006), adopted by resolution of the Butte Co. Board of Supervisors in April 2007 and habitat conservations policies of the Butte County General Plan – 2030 adopted in year 2010.

For further chapter conservation information, please contact Conservation Chair: Woody Elliott, woodyelliott@gmail.com.

Orange County

Fuel Management and Natives- 2011
Orange County (OC) is working towards minimizing botanical fuel through updating a plant list that meets the local fire authority’s fuel management standards and that prioritizes use of natives over non-native invasive plants. CNPS Orange County Chapter is collaborating with the OC park staff to contact Homeowner’s Associations that border reserve lands, and advocate for the removal of invasive plants, and the use of more fire resistant native plants. For more information, contact CNPS OC Chapter Conservation Chair Celia Kutcher: celia552@cox.net.

Riverside-San Bernardino

“LEAPS-TE/VS” Powerline Placement on Land Conservancy – 2011
The Nevada Hydro Company is proposing the placement of powerlines and transmission towers associated with the Talega-Escondido/Valley-Serrano 500 kV Interconnect and associated Lake Elsinore Advanced Pumped Storage (“LEAPS-TE/VS”) project on land owned by the Fallbrook Land Conservancy. CNPS Riverside-San Bernardino Chapter has joined efforts with Center for Biological Diversity and many others, to prevent the irrevocable ecological impacts from these ill-conceived and destructive projects. This collaborative letter can be found here. For more information, contact Riverside-San Bernardino Conservation Chair Arlee Montalvo: arlee.montalvo@ucr.edu.

Sacramento Valley

Habitat 2020- 2011
Habitat 2020 is a coalition of environmental organizations, including CNPS – Sacramento Valley Chapter (CNPS-SV), which collaborate on common issues affecting the Sacramento region. CNPS-SV in its collaboration with Habitat 2020 continues to participate in the County General Plan Update on land use, and participates in the South Sacramento County Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) process. Access further information here.

Vernal Pools- 2009
CNPS-SV has been actively involved in the protection of vernal pools throughout the Sacramento Valley for over a decade. The work of CNPS-SV has led to the designation of vernal pool Critical Habitat in the valley, and the strengthening of mitigation provisions via both the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA) to prevent unmitigated development. Access further information here.

San Diego

San Diego County has more native plant species than any other county in the U.S., but the populations of many of these species have declined by more than 90 percent over the last century. Keeping these increasingly rare species from going extinct is a perennial challenge.
The CNPS San Diego Chapter is focused on development threats to native plants.  City and county politics have been strongly influenced by developers for over a century. Good development sites have been built, and the remaining open sites tend to be remote from existing urban centers, problematic due to:
  • lack of sufficient water
  • high fire risk
  • steep slopes
  • location on floodplains
  • currently in use for agriculture or preserving sensitive plant and animal species

San Gabriel Mountains

The most pressing conservation challenges for the region covered by the San Gabriel Mountains Chapter of CNPS are:

  • Increasing pressure to develop foothill and desert areas surrounding the San Gabriel Mountains. An example of proposed development is the Centennial Project at Tejon Ranch that could include as many as 20,000 houses in a remote area of Los Angeles County.  While we need to acknowledge that California has a severe housing shortage, we should examine carefully any proposals that increase greenhouse gas emissions, eliminate wild habitats, and relax the standards of The California Environmental Quality Act.
  • The preservation of Significant Ecological Areas (SEAS) and Important Plant Areas from development or other damage. Los Angeles County is currently engaged in a revision of SEAS in response to complaints from private property owners that too much land area is currently off limits to private activities.

San Luis Obispo

Carrizo Plain Solar- 2011
A large-scale photovoltaic solar plant, the Topaz Solar Farm, is being proposed on existing cropped and grazed lands in the Carrizo Plain. CNPS San Luis Obispo Chapter has submitted comments on the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR). While CNPS SLO Chapter recognizes the need for renewable energy, there are concerns over the project’s location and mitigation of impacts on native flora. Access the most recent comment letter here.

Sanhedrin

Walker Ridge ACEC Petition- 2011
CNPS Sanhedrin Chapter has worked for years to raise public awareness of the botanically rich Walker Ridge public lands by leading field hikes, maintaining plant lists, and submitting comments into the public record. In an effort to protect Walker Ridge’s rich botanical resources, provide adaptive management to its species, and to dissuade the U.S. Bureau of Land Management from allowing a marginal wind project on the Ridge’s public lands, CNPS Sanhedrin Chapter helped develop a proposal to expand the Area of Critical Environmental Concern designation on Walker Ridge. The currently disjunct ACEC parcels on Walker Ridge do not offer adequate protection nor ensure the best conservation management for serpentine endemic plants occurring there. You can access the petition text or learn more about the petition here.

Santa Clara Valley

Coyote Ridge- 2010
Coyote Ridge’s serpentine soil habitat is home to several special status plants, and the Bay Checkerspot butterfly. Since the early 1990’s, CNPS-Santa Clara Valley has conducted vegetation surveys, monitored rare plant populations, led field trips, produced videos, brochures and articles, held public meetings, and advocated conservation policies before public bodies. The City of San Jose, the Valley Transportation Authority, the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority, the Silicon Valley Land Conservancy and the Nature Conservancy have adopted protection of this treasure. Access further information here.

Santa Cruz

The Santa Cruz County Chapter of CNPS is working to recover and protect federally-listed species and rare habitat found locally. We have reached legal settlements with developers and are working to achieve enforcement of these agreements. We continue to focus on helping government jurisdictions be more responsible for monitoring and enforcing plant protection during the development permitting process. In other cases we are working with local government to achieve restoration on public lands.

Local species/habitat we are working to recover and protect are:

  • Robust spineflower (Chorizanthe robusta var. robusta), federally listed as endangered
  • Scotts Valley polygonum (Polygonum hickmanii) federally listed as endangered
  • Scotts Valley spineflower (Chorizanthe robusta var. hartwegii) federally listed as endangered
  • Santa Cruz tarplant (Holocarpha macradenia), federally listed as threatened, state listed as endangered
  • San Francisco popcorn flower (Plagiobothrys diffusus) state listed as endangered
  • Coastal prairie habitat

Sequoia (greater Fresno)

The CNPS Sequoia Chapter is actively involved in efforts to protect the San Joaquin Gorge, the last free running portion of the San Joaquin River in Fresno County. A proposed $3 billion dollar dam at Temperance Flat does not meet a cost/benefit ratio.  If the project goes through, the Temperance Flat Museum would be inundated. This is a rich biological area  through which  the Trail to the Sierra runs and is home to an amazing systems of caves that would be flooded.

South Coast

Coastal Sage Scrub- 2011
For over a decade, the coastal sage scrub population between the Santa Monica Mountains and Orange County has diminished rapidly. CNPS South Coast Chapter has participated in the development of several conservation plans and actively participates in native habitat restoration projects. Access further information on CNPS South Coast Chapter’s website here.

Willis L. Jepson Chapter

The extent and diversity of Solano County’s native vegetation has been greatly reduced by both agricultural and urban development.  Most of the land that supports Solano’s remaining critical native plant communities is not protected or managed to conserve these resources.  Some lands are managed by the Solano Land Trust, but creation of a county-wide parks and open space district is needed to create a viable reserve system.  Development of the Solano HCP has been stalled for several years.  Without the HCP, the county lacks an overall framework for conservation of special status native species.  Furthermore, the scope of the HCP is limited in scope both geographically and in the diversity of habitats covered, so it is not clear how effective it will be when (or if) it is finalized.  The county lacks any effective policies for conservation of oak woodland habitats, and these habitats are not included in the HCP.  The Chapter is working with the County to help develop an Oak Woodland Conservation and Management Plan that would benefit the range of native species that occur in these habitats.

Yerba Buena

Heavy urbanization and shorelines threatened by sea level rise are two major conservation challenges facing our chapter. Other issues include:

  • Non-native invasive plants, especially in remnant grassland habitats, overwhelm the resources of managing agencies.
  • Collective natural heritage memory loss. The importance of re-incorporating local native biodiversity is lost upon a churning, transient population and our municipal agencies that have little knowledge of historic baselines.
  • Availability of locally sourced, pathogen free, native seed and plants is in short supply. Pathogen testing and best management practices are expensive and (pathogen free) native plant nurseries are few. The commercial landscaping industry must be encouraged to alter their practices to limit the spread of non-native plants, some of them listed as invasives by the California Invasive Plant Council.
  • Municipal agencies without a native plants-first mandate for parklands, right-of-ways, municipal properties and new developments.

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