In this workshop you will learn to sample vegetation hands-on using the rapid assessment/relevé survey methods, which provide scientific methodologies to collect data crucial for knowing and understanding California’s unique vegetation communities. Read on for details.

Vegetation Rapid Assessment/Relevé

May 24-26, 2023
Monterey County, CA at the Hastings Reserve 
Taught by Mark Bibbo and Betsy Harbert

CNPS Members $450 / Non-Members $500

With onsite lodging: CNPS Members $490 / Non Members $540

Capacity: 22 participants
Last Day to Register: May 10, 2023



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

Full Description:This course will be a combination of lecture and field exercises in vegetation sampling with a focus on collecting data using the CNPS-CDFW combined vegetation rapid assessment and relevé methods. We will discuss the state standardized approach to fine-scale vegetation sampling and classification, and touch on applications of this standardized approach including how to document rare natural communities, how vegetation information fits into planning documents, and mapping.

To earn a certificate of completion, participants will need to successfully complete two vegetation rapid assessment field forms on the final day.

Participants will learn:

  • Applications of fine-scale vegetation sampling, classification and mapping
  • How vegetation sampling is used for mapping projects
  • How to collect data using the CNPS-CDFW combined vegetation rapid assessment/relevé method
  • How to document rare natural communities
  • How vegetation types and attributes can be mapped
  • How vegetation information fits into County General Management Plans, CEQA, HCP’s, NCCPs, etc.

Schedule & Locale

Wednesday, May 24

Meet at the Hastings Reserve Arnold Classroom/Conference Room. Indoor lecture, classroom setting.

2:00 pm
Introductions and overview: vegetation sampling, analysis, and classification

5:00 pm
Break for the day

Thursday, May 25

Meet at designated field location on the Hastings Reserve. Field exercises all day.

8:30 am
Field exercises: introduction to the combined vegetation rapid assessment/relevé method; estimating percent cover of vegetation layers

Lunch in the field (please bring your own lunch and water)

1:00 pm
Field exercise as a group: conduct a field survey using the vegetation rapid assessment method

4:30 pm
Regroup for Q&A

5:00 pm
Break for the day

Friday, May 26

Meet at designated field location on the Hastings Reserve. Field exercises all day.

8:30 am
Review rapid assessment protocol

9:30 am
Field exercise in small groups: select vegetation types for sampling, conduct first rapid assessment

Lunch in the field (please bring your own lunch and water)

1:00 pm
Field exercise in small groups: conduct second rapid assessment, using a different vegetation type

3:30 pm
Q&A; submit field forms for certificate of completion; course evaluations

4:00 pm
Workshop concludes

Schedule subject to change.

Venue: This workshop will take place at the Hastings Natural History Reservation, located at 38601 E Carmel Valley Rd, Carmel Valley, CA 93924. The day 1 classroom portion will be held in the Arnold Classroom/Conference Room. Field exercises on days 2 and 3 will take place at various locations on the Hastings Reserve. Please note, the reserve is located about 25 minutes from Carmel Valley Village down a very curvy paved county road. Additional details will be provided to registered participants about a week before the workshop.

Materials & Requirements

Please bring...

  • Clipboard
  • Notebook and pencils
  • 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

Optional additional items include:

  • Compass and/with clinometer
  • Binoculars
  • Digital camera
  • GPS unit

If staying in onsite lodging, please bring: 

  • Bedding (sleeping bag or blankets, and a pillow) 
  • Towels 
  • Food for all meals  

Materials Provided: CNPS will provide data sheets, maps, and references for all field exercises, and a certificate of completion after successfully completing two vegetation rapid assessment field forms on the final day.

Physical Requirements: Participants should be physically able to hike over uneven terrain and remain in the field for up to 8.5 hours at a time. This workshop will be held rain or shine. We will spend approximately 80-85% of the time in the field.

Onsite Lodging

Optional onsite lodging is available at the Hastings Reserve for $20/night. It costs $40 for the two nights, May 24 and 25.  

Onsite lodging consists of a bed in a shared dormitory style room, with a shared bathroom. Basic kitchen utensils and cooking appliances are provided in a shared kitchen. Please bring your own food, bedding, and towels; they are not provided. For more detailed information and photos of the onsite lodging options, click here. You will be staying in either the Ranch House or School House; accommodations will be assigned randomly at check-in.   

Carmel Valley Village is about 25-35 minutes’ drive down a very curvy paved county road. There you can find a library, medical care, hardware shop, small grocery stores, etc. It takes at least 35 minutes to get to a large grocery store (mid-valley Safeway) or 50 minutes to stores in Carmel, Monterey or Salinas.

The nearest offsite accommodations are available in Carmel Valley Village, which is about a 30-minute drive from the reserve.  

About the Instructors

Mark Bibbo

Mark began his botanical career in earnest twenty years ago collecting releves over two seasons in Sierran montane meadows from the Lassen to Sequoia National Forests, and then went on to spend two years leading CNPS field crews in Rapid Assessment data collection in the northern half of the Sierra Nevada Foothills ecoregion. After 16 years working for various environmental consulting firms as a botanist throughout the state, Mark came back to CNPS a year ago as a vegetation ecologist managing regional vegetation data collection projects in Central California, working from his home in Santa Cruz. He is a graduate of UC Santa Cruz and UC Davis, and loves teaching others about vegetation sampling protocols and sharing this unique way of viewing and thinking about California’s amazing vegetation diversity.

Betsy Harbert

Betsy is a vegetation ecologist for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Vegetation Classification and Mapping Program (VegCAMP). She works with collaborators, including CNPS, to collect standardized vegetation in order to classify and map all vegetation within California. She has worked as an ecologist and botanist for various NGOs and government agencies since 2008, working to describe plant communities in California grasslands, deserts, wetlands, and mountains. She graduated from CSU Colorado with a Masters in 2015 in Ecology, focusing on describing plant communities within montane wetlands. She’s continued that work through plant community restoration within montane meadows, research in support of the National Wetland Plant list, leading educational workshops on wetland plants and plant communities, and now through vegetation classification work for VegCAMP.

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.


The Vegetation Rapid Assessment/Relevé Workshop is full. Please fill out this form to be added to the waitlist.

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 Wednesday, May 10, 2023. 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!