Field Protocols &

RPTHers keying out-Streptanthus breweri plants.

Working together

CNPS plant science guidelines come from decades of collective experience. CNPS staff, collaborators, and volunteers have all played an important role in helping us refine and present best-practice approaches to field surveys, sampling, mapping, and mitigation. We’re thankful to all who’ve contributed to this information and encourage anyone using these resources to share suggestions, ideas, and questions. Get in touch with us anytime at

CNPS Guidelines


Leymus triticoides, Grover Hot Springs. Credit Todd Keeler-Wolf.

Mapping Sensitive Natural Communities
Created by the CNPS Vegetation Program to support the development and standardization of sensitive natural community mapping in CA.
Mapping Sensitive Natural Communities

CDFW Classification Mapping
Created by the CDFW Vegetation Program to support the development and standardization of rare plant community mapping in CA.
CDFW Classification Mapping

Alliance Level Mapping
A downloadable, blank geodatabase from California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife’s VegCAMP
Alliance Level Mapping

Rare plants

Astragalus pycnostachyus lanosissimus

Botanical Surveys
CNPS recommends that lead agencies not accept the results of surveys unless they are conducted and reported according to these guidelines.
CNPS Botanical Surveys
CDFW Survey Protocols

Field Survey Form
CNPS accepts data on rare plants in a number of formats. If conducting surveys as part of a Rare Plant Treasure Hunt, we prefer use of the RPTH form, otherwise please use the CNDDB form.
RPTH Field Survey Form
CNDDB Field Survey Form

Rare Plant Treasure Hunt
Instructions for participating citizen scientists, created by the California Native Plant Society.
Rare Plant Treasure Hunt

Vegetation rapid assessment and relevé protocols

Over time, the field methods used to collect vegetation data have been modified to reflect our changing knowledge of the systems involved. The links below provide the most recent sampling protocol and data forms used by the Vegetation Program.

Please note: If you are using these forms in the field, the CNPS Vegetation Program would greatly appreciate if you can send us copies of your completed forms. We’ll enter the data into our rapid assessment database, archive the information, and use it for future classification analyses. If requested, we can send you a hard copy database report summarizing the data you’ve provided.

Please send photocopies/scanned copies via post, email or fax to:

Julie Evens, Vegetation Program Director
2707 K Street, Suite 1
Sacramento, CA 95816
Fax: (916) 324-0475