In this workshop you will learn to conduct rare plant surveys and report your findings, contributing to the documentation and protection of California’s profusion of unique rare plants. This training includes a full day in the field getting hands-on experience. Read on for details.

Rare Plant Survey Methods and Laws/Regulations

August 24-25, 2021
Truckee, CA
Taught by Heath Bartosh & Aaron Sims, with a guest lecture from Kristi Lazar

CNPS Members $440 / Non-Members $460
Capacity: 20 participants
Last Day to Register: August 15, 2021
Cancelled due to air quality. Jen is in touch with participants.

(Price does not include lodging. Participants are responsible for finding their own lodging accommodations.)

Registration Closed


Target Audience: Professional botanists, ecologists, land managers, resource specialists, academics, and conservationists. Participants should have an understanding of plant terminology and capable plant identification skills.

Full Description: This course is designed to approach rare plant surveys using the best scientific information available. This scientific approach is built on conducting proper background review and literature searches, evaluating ecological information, assessing annual phenology, appropriate study design based on the scale of the survey area, survey execution, and adequate documentation of rare plant populations encountered.

This 2-day course will include classroom and field settings where the instructors will cover three topic areas: preparing for surveys, conducting surveys, and reporting findings. These topics will be discussed based on applicable botanical survey guidelines. Time spent in the field will be applying the concepts learned during classroom sessions. There will also be a homework assignment due at the beginning of the second day of class. A small amount of time will be spent on the proper methods of collecting voucher specimens. This course includes a certificate of completion for participants who complete CNDDB forms satisfactorily and pass an (optional) open book exam at the end of the course.

Participants will learn:

  • How to properly prepare and conduct background research prior to initiating rare plant surveys
  • How to design and conduct rare plant surveys focusing on the size and topography of the study area, ecological niches, the importance of reference sites, etc.
  • CA Department of Fish & Wildlife, CNPS, US Fish & Wildlife, and other relevant botanical field survey protocols
  • How to use online databases and resources such as: CA Natural Diversity Data Base (CNDDB), the CNPS Online Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants, the Jepson eFlora/Interchange, Consortium of CA Herbaria, and others
  • To fill out CNDDB forms correctly and thoroughly
  • A brief overview of laws pertaining to rare plants
  • A brief overview of voucher specimen collecting techniques.

Schedule & Locale (Subject to Change)

Tuesday, August 24

Meet at Truckee Town Hall. Indoor lecture, classroom setting.

8:30 am
Meet and greet, introductions

9:00 am
Overview of laws applicable to rare plant protection

9:30 am
Preparing for surveys: background research, study area evaluation & design

12:00 pm
Break for lunch (please bring your own lunch and water)

1:00 pm
Conducting surveys: survey techniques and field data collection

2:00 pm
How to fill out the more difficult parts of the CNDDB field survey form

3:00 pm
Reporting findings: CNDDB forms and what the guidelines tell us

4:00 pm
Review of background research specific to study area

4:30 pm
Wrap up discussion, review, and questions

5:00 pm
Break for the day

Wednesday, August 25

Meet at designated field site TBA. All day in the field. Spend the day learning the local flora, the importance of field keying, how to identify niche/specialized habitat, CNDDB field form data collection, voucher specimen collection, transect and other surveying techniques based on target species.

8:30 am
Meet at designated location and hike to field site, possibly up to 3 miles round-trip

12:00 pm
Lunch in the field (please bring your own lunch and water)

1:00 pm
Resume field work

4:15 pm
Q & A, exam (optional), course evaluations

5:00 pm
Workshop concludes

Schedule subject to change.

Venue: The day 1 classroom portion of this workshop will be held in the Stampede Conference Room at the Truckee Town Hall, located at 10183 Truckee Airport Rd, Truckee, CA 96161. Field exercises on day 2 will take place at nearby locations TBA. Additional details will be provided to those registered about a week before the workshop.

Materials & Requirements

Please bring...

  • Hand lens
  • The Jepson Manual, Second Edition
  • Clipboard, notebook, and pencil
  • Sturdy boots and field clothes appropriate for the conditions
  • Sunscreen, hat, and insect repellent
  • Drinking water, packable lunches, and snacks for both days
  • Optional: digital camera, GPS unit, binoculars

Materials Provided: CNPS will provide handouts, field forms, and a certificate of completion after successfully completing CNDDB forms and passing an open book exam (optional).

Physical Requirements: Participants should be physically able to walk up to 3 miles along uneven paths and trails, and remain outside for up to 8.5 hours at a time. This workshop will be held rain or shine. We will spend approximately 50% of the time in the field.

About the Instructors

Heath Bartosh

Heath Bartosh is co-founder and Senior Botanist of Nomad Ecology, based in Martinez (CCo, SnFrB), and a Research Associate at the University and Jepson Herbaria at UC Berkeley. As Nomad’s senior botanist, Heath ensures his staff are properly trained in plant identification and rare plant survey methodologies. After graduating from Humboldt State University, Heath began his career as a professional botanist and since then he has designed and conducted rare plant inventories on nearly 100,000 acres of land in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is currently the chair of the Rare Plant Program Committee at the state level of CNPS. His role on this committee is to ensure these programs continue to develop current, accurate information on the distribution, ecology, and conservation status of CA’s rare and endangered plants, and help to promote the use of this information to influence onsite plant conservation in CA.

Aaron Sims

Aaron Sims is the statewide Rare Plant Program Director for CNPS with primary duties of implementing and overseeing the status review process, working closely with the CNDDB to update and maintain CA Rare Plant Ranks and associated rare plant data in the CNPS Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants. Aaron received a degree in Ecology and Systematic Biology with an emphasis in Botany from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where he also assisted with David Keil’s Field Botany course for five consecutive years. Prior to employment with CNPS in 2010, Aaron worked in environmental consulting and as a biologist for CA State Parks on the Central Coast, performing rare plant and vegetation surveys, prescribed fire management, and producing a multitude of GIS maps pertaining to sensitive resources. Aaron has also contracted with the Morro Bay National Estuary Program, producing the Atlas of Sensitive Species of the Morro Bay Area (2010) and the Green Infrastructure Network of the Baywood Fine Sands Community (2013).

Kristi Lazar

Kristi Lazar is a botanist with the California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB) and spends the majority of her time maintaining rare plant species information, updating rare plant occurrences, and answering questions from CNDDB users. Kristi has a BS degree in Conservation Biology from CSU Sacramento and an MS degree in Plant Biology from UC Davis. For her MS project, Kristi looked at the environmental variables that influence the distribution of rare plant species in the vernal pools of California. After graduating, Kristi worked as Rare Plant Botanist for CNPS before becoming a botanist with CNDDB in 2007. Kristi also has experience performing rare plant surveys in the Pine Hill and Ione areas of California and has worked in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta doing vegetation surveys for the Vegetation Classification and Mapping Program (VegCAMP).

Registration Closed

Before registering, please review our full workshop cancellation policy and participant expectations. The last day to cancel your registration for this workshop and receive any refund (less the cancellation fee) is
Tuesday, August 10, 2021. For other ways to register, please see our full registration & payment policy.

Did you know CNPS members get discounts on workshops? If you’re not a current member, you can join or renew now before completing the registration form below to qualify for special members-only rates!