Southern Sierra Nevada Foothills – Vegetation Sampling Redux
The CNPS Vegetation Program was back in the southern Sierra Nevada Foothills (SSNF) this past spring for three months of vegetation sampling. This project, a continuation of an effort which we originally began in 2008 to sample, classify, and map SSNF vegetation at a fine scale, is another piece of the Vegetation Program’s long-term goal in collaboration with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) for a detailed vegetation map for all natural lands of California. The SSNF, as a region, covers more than 1.7 million acres east and south of the San Joaquin Valley floor up to about 2,500 ft. elevation and higher in the San Emigdio Mountains. The SSNF is of high priority for mapping because along with adjacent areas in the northern foothills and valley, this region has greatest potential for increasing urban, suburban, and rural development in the state.
This year CNPS and partners conducted over 550 surveys using the CNPS/CDFW combined vegetation rapid assessment and relevé protocol. Along with the common oak woodlands, we captured some interesting and unique vegetation types including stands with bush anemone (Carpenteria californica), Piute cypress (Hesperocyparis nevadensis), and desert needle grass (Stipa speciosa).
We’ll return to the SSNF region again for another month during this spring of 2016, to sample more herbaceous vegetation types and to reach areas that we’ve missed. Data and maps resulting from this project are critical to the success of local and regional land conservation and management efforts. Land managers can use vegetation maps to inform decision making, whether to identify what types of vegetation face encroaching development, are at risk of severe fires, require mitigation, provide habitats and corridors for key animal species, or are in need of restoration. Compiled vegetation data will also provide us with new information on vegetation assemblages (alliances or associations), so that we can have a more complete representation of the vegetation found in the region.