In this workshop we will discuss applications of fine-scale vegetation sampling, classification, and mapping, how to document sensitive natural communities, and threats to sensitive communities. This course will be mainly in the field with a short classroom introduction.

Sensitive Natural Communities on the North Coast

August 12-14, 2024
Fort Bragg, CA 
Taught by Teresa Sholars and Todd Keeler-Wolf

CNPS Members $500 / Non-Members $550
Capacity: 22 participants
Last Day to Register: July 29, 2024 (or until full)

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Objectives

Target Audience: Professional and student botanists, ecologists, resource / land managers, consultants, and conservationists. Participants should have an initial understanding of the subject matter and basic plant identification skills.

Full Description: In this workshop we will provide an overview of vegetation alliances and associations on the Mendocino Coast currently being classified as part of the vegetation inventory and mapping effort of the North Coast ecoregion, as defined in A Manual of California Vegetation (MCV online) and reports on the CDFW veg camp website. On the first day, we will briefly introduce the online Manual and show components of Alliance and association descriptions including general remarks, disturbance history, species life history, geography, management and conservation considerations. We will focus on the location and definition of locally sensitive natural communities, their unique characteristics and threats to their existence. After the in-class overview we will visit the marine terraces along the coast, and the following days we will move inland where mixtures of coastal species forests and shrublands occur along with grassland habitats. We will encounter many different vegetation alliances of the region from coastal prairies and meadows to coastal scrub, pine, redwood forests and oak woodlands. We will point out the sensitive natural communities along the route, paying close attention to those on oligotrophic (nutrient-poor) soils, of particular interest to the Mendocino Coast.

Participants will learn:

  • What are the drivers of vegetation community assemblages in this part of the North Coast and North Coast ranges ecoregion (distance from coast, disturbance, substrate, slope, aspect)? Which vegetation types are present at the field sites? What is their sensitivity ranking and why? What are threats?
  • Applications of fine-scale vegetation sampling, classification and mapping to the understanding of natural communities
  • How to document sensitive natural communities for biological site assessment and environmental review

Schedule & Locale

Monday, August 12

The day 1 classroom portion of this workshop will be held at the Mendocino College Coast Center, located in Fort Bragg. Then we will travel to a nearby field site for the second half of the afternoon.

1:00 pm 
Introductions and overview: Brief introduction of the Manual of CA Vegetation (MCV) Online, and components of Alliance descriptions including general remarks, disturbance history, species life history, geography, management and conservation considerations. Introduction to the Query for particular alliance, Query for SNCs in ecoregion, and Species search. List of vegetation types of region w/ Sensitive Natural Community (SNC) ranks, Vegetation Reports. Introduction to ecological staircase concept, and how to document sensitive natural communities.

3:00 pm
Field visit to nearby coastal prairie: What are the drivers of vegetation communities at this site (distance from coast, disturbance, substrate, slope, aspect)? Which vegetation types are present? Meet with Terra Fuller, State Park’s Senior Environmental Scientist to discuss her coastal prairie enhancement management research.

5:00 pm
Break for the day

Tuesday, August 13

Meet at designated field site close to Fort Bragg. Field exercises all day, including uses of vegetation keys, location of vegetation stands, and interpretation of stand tables.

8:30 am
Field trip: Explore the Ecological Staircase/ Marine Terraces including coastal scrub, coastal prairie, and bishop pine, woodland/forest habitats: What are the drivers of vegetation communities at this site (distance from coast, disturbance & stewardship, substrate, slope, aspect)? Which vegetation types are present? What is their sensitivity ranking and why? What are threats?

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

1:00 pm
Field trip: Moving inland to Mendocino cypress woodland and redwood forest habitats

5:00 pm
Break for the day

Wednesday, August 14

Meet at designated site close to Fort Bragg. Field exercises all day. 

8:30 am
Field trip: Drive inland to discuss how patterning of coastal and inland oak woodland plants intermix along with various grassland habitats. What are the drivers of vegetation communities at this site (distance from coast, disturbance & stewardship, substrate, slope, aspect)? Which vegetation types are present? What is their sensitivity ranking and why? What are threats?

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

1:00 pm
Field trip: Continue to drive inland, stop at sites to discuss natural community patterning

3:30 pm
Q&A; course evaluations 

4:30 pm
Workshop concludes

Schedule / locations subject to change.

Venue: The day 1 classroom portion of this workshop will be held at the Mendocino College Coast Center, located in Fort Bragg, California. Field exercises on days 2 and 3 will take place at nearby locations TBD. Additional details will be provided to registered participants about a week before the workshop. Participants are responsible for finding their own overnight lodging.

Materials & Requirements

Please bring...

  • Notebook and pencils
  • Binoculars
  • Sturdy boots and field clothes appropriate for conditions, including long-sleeve shirts and pants to protect from poison oak and ticks
  • Field-friendly lunches and plenty of water and snacks
  • Sunscreen

Materials Provided: CNPS will provide a list of vegetation types present in the field sites with sensitivity ranking, draft floristic key for the North Coast ecoregion, maps (example maps of sensitive natural communities, and for driving directions), and references for all field exercises.

Physical Requirements: Participants should be physically able to hike over uneven terrain and remain in the field for up to 8 hours at a time. This workshop will be held rain or shine. We will spend approximately 90% of the time in the field.

About the Instructors

Teresa Sholars

Teacher of Ecology, Botany, and Biology for 50 years. Professor Emeritus of Biology; College of the Redwoods; currently Adjunct Professor at Mendocino College and instructor for the Jepson workshops series at UC Berkeley. Curator of the Herbarium at the Mendocino College Coast Campus. Volunteer for the California Native Plant Society as vegetation coordinator for DKY chapter, leading volunteer vegetation surveys teams since 2015. Board member for the CNPS Journal Artemisia and Northern California Botanists. Author for the genus Lupinus in the Jepson Manual, all of the efloras and Flora North America. Author of articles and various chapters in books on California vegetation. Botanical consultant from 1975 -2014.

Todd Keeler-Wolf

Todd Keeler-Wolf is an ecologist specializing in vegetation classification and mapping. A true Californian, Todd was born in Oakland and received his B.S. and Ph.D. from the University of California Santa Cruz. He was the Senior Vegetation Ecologist at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for 25 years, where he lead the Vegetation Classification and Mapping Program. During this period, he studied the vegetation and flora of virtually every terrestrial ecosystem in the state. Todd is the author of numerous books and publications including several studies documenting the significance of sensitive natural communities. With Julie Evens and John Sawyer, he authored both editions of the Manual of California Vegetation and along with Michael Barbour, the third Edition of Terrestrial Vegetation of California

Scholarships Available

CNPS is committed to reducing barriers and broadening participation in our workshops. We are offering financial support opportunities for students, early professionals, or anyone who may not otherwise be able to attend. This scholarship will cover the cost of one CNPS plant science workshop. In some instances, CNPS will also provide monetary assistance for travel and accommodations. 

The scholarship form is due six weeks before the workshop date that you would like to attend. You will be notified within four weeks of the workshop date about the financial aid determination. Please click here to fill out the form to be considered as a potential recipient of a workshop scholarship.

Registration

Before registering, please review the workshop waiver and photo release, plus 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 Monday, July 29, 2024. For other ways to register, please see our 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!