This workshop is an introductory course in conducting Rare Plant Treasure Hunts and in vegetation sampling. The format will be a combination of lecture, via webinar, and field exercises. We will discuss applications of botanical surveys (focusing on rare plants) and of fine-scale vegetation sampling, classification, and mapping. Read on for details.
Target Audience: Students, recent graduates, and early career participants with an interest in learning about how to observe and document rare plants and vegetation communities to promote conservation. This training is also open to community members who don’t have access to traditional paid workshops and classes to build botanical skills.
Full Description: This is an introductory course in conducting Rare Plant Treasure Hunts and in vegetation sampling. The format will be a combination of lecture, via webinar, and field exercises. We will discuss applications of botanical surveys (focusing on rare plants) and of fine-scale vegetation sampling, classification, and mapping. Space is limited and RSVPs are required to attend. This training will be fully outdoors but there will be options to use indoor space at the reserve. Free camping is available at the reserve.
Participants will learn:
- How to prepare and conduct background research prior to initiating a Rare Plant Treasure Hunt
- Interpreting rare plant data and reports
- How to design and conduct rare plant surveys
- How to use online databases and resources to prepare for treasure hunts such as Calflora, iNaturalist, the CNPS Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants, the Jepson eFlora/Interchange, Consortium of CA Herbaria, and others
- To fill out the Rare Plant Treasure Hunt datasheet
- How to collect and maintain fieldnotes to use to develop descriptions of baseline conditions of project site/study area
- A brief overview of voucher specimen collecting techniques
- Applications of fine-scale vegetation sampling, classification, and mapping
- How to recognize vegetation patterns on the landscape
- How to collect vegetation data using CNPS sampling techniques (relevé and rapid assessment)
- How to identify fine-scale vegetation communities using regional descriptive keys and the statewide Manual of California Vegetation
Schedule & Locale
Tuesday, March 8 Webinar
Part 1: Webinar Online Training
- 1:00-1:15: Introduction by Alyssa, Amy, and Jennifer
- 1:15-2:15: Rare Plant Treasure Hunt (RPTH)
- 2:15-2:45: Q&A RPTH
- 2:45-2:55: Break
- 2:55-3:55: Vegetation Sampling
- 3:55-4:25: Vegetation Q&A
- 4:25-4:30 Conclusion
Saturday, March 12
Part 2: Field Exercises at Blue Oak Ranch Reserve
March 12, 10:00 am -4:00 pm: Rare Plant Treasure Hunt and Voucher Collection
Sunday, March 13
Part 2: Field Exercises at Blue Oak Ranch Reserve
March 13, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm: Vegetation Training
Schedule subject to change.
Venue: Blue Oak Ranch Reserve is located at 16070 Mt. Hamilton Rd., San Jose, CA 95127. Blue Oak Ranch Reserve sprawls across the steep slopes of Mount Hamilton just east of urban San Jose. Located on the western slopes of the Diablo Range, the reserve falls within the watershed of San Francisco Bay. Blue Oak Ranch Reserve is a member of the world’s largest network of university-owned and operated biological field stations and ecological reserves. The Natural Reserve System was established in 1965 and is committed to supporting the University of California’s commitment to excellence in teaching, research, and public service. Plant communities include blue oak woodland, valley oak woodland, black oak woodland, coast live oak woodland, riparian forest, chamise chaparral, Diablan sage scrub, nonnative annual grassland, wildflower field, and native perennial grassland. Four of these are threatened plant communities: valley oak woodlands, blue oak woodlands, wildflower field, and native perennial grasslands. Blue and valley oak woodlands have become quite rare in California, and few are as protected from grazing and the encroachment of suburban development as those at Blue Oak Ranch.
Please note that driving to Blue Oak requires a 15 minute drive on a dirt road. The road is rugged but passable for all vehicles. Please leave extra driving time to allow for this part of the trip.
Camping: Free camping is available at the reserve! We suggest camping with us for the training due to the drive time to the reserve. Please bring a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, tent, pillow, and warm jacket for camping. Please let us know if you need to borrow or rent any gear for the event.
Food: We will provide dinner for the night of the 12th and light breakfast items the morning of the 13th. Please bring a packed lunch for both days. Bring your own snacks, beverages and water bottle.
Reimbursements: We want this training to be financially accessible to all. Participants can request reimbursement for $0.20/mile and to cover the cost of packed lunches.
Materials & Requirements
- Clipboard or notebook and pencil
- Sturdy boots and field clothes appropriate for the conditions (e.g. protection from poison oak, rain, sun, heat/cold, insects, etc.)
- Sunscreen, hat, and insect repellent
- Drinking water, packable lunches, and snacks for all days
- Camping gear
- Hand lens
- Plant field guide
- Camera, GPS unit, binoculars
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. For the field exercises, we will spend 100% of our time in the field.
Covid Safety: All workshop participants need to be fully vaccinated and provide proof of vaccination before attending. If a participant is unvaccinated due to a valid medical reason, we accept a negative COVID-19 test result that is within three days of the workshop start date. Participants are required to send firstname.lastname@example.org a scan or photo of proof of vaccination/test result at the time of registering for the event. This information will be kept strictly confidential and deleted following review. We will notify you when your proof of vaccination has been approved and subsequently deleted. We are closely monitoring COVID-19 state and CDC guidelines. We will be enforcing all recommended guidelines, including mask wearing, social distancing and other protocols. As COVID-19 variants continue to spread, there may be a possibility that we must cancel a workshop(s). By registering for a workshop, you agree to abide by all safety guidelines and protocols; you also acknowledge that a workshop may need to be canceled due to developments related to COVID-19. Our top priority is your safety and security, as well as those of participants and CNPS staff. Covid testing is highly encouraged before the event.
About the Instructors
Amy Patten is the Rare Plant Treasure Hunt Manager in the CNPS Rare Plant Program. Amy conducts rare plant surveys and botanical skills trainings around the state and has extensive experience working with special status plants and animals in California. Amy has a B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from UC Santa Cruz.
Jennifer Buck-Diaz is a vegetation ecologist and botanist with the CNPS Vegetation Program. She brings to CNPS extensive work experience with different plant communities across the western United States. Prior to joining CNPS, Jennifer worked as an ecologist with The Nature Conservancy at the Cosumnes River Preserve. She holds a B.S. and M.S. in Plant Biology from the University of California.
Shelly Benson is an associate vegetation ecologist with the CNPS Vegetation Program. She has worked as a botanist in the San Francisco Bay Area for the past 20 years. Her first experience with vegetation mapping changed the way she sees natural landscapes—constantly keying in on the textures and repeating patterns of vegetation. Her specialty is mapping grassland communities. When the plants are done blooming, Shelly studies lichens.
Alexis LaFever-Jackson is a lead vegetation ecologist with the CNPS Vegetation Program. She has worked as a field ecologist in a variety of habitats across California, including the Central and Northern Coasts, southern Sierra Nevada Foothills, the Mojave Desert, and the Central Valley. She has attended formal vegetation mapping workshops allowing her to hone in on the patterns of vegetation in various settings. Alexis has a B.A. in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Cruz.
Angela Pai is the Rare Seed Accessioning Senior Coordinator in the CNPS Rare Plant Program. Angela conducts rare plant surveys and coordinates rare seed collection throughout California. Angela has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of California, Berkeley.