Glen HolsteinThis year we were delighted to hear an excellent presentation by Dr. Glen Holstein, Chapter Botanist for the Sacramento Valley Chapter of CNPS. In his talk, Rediscovering and Conserving California’s Prairie Landscapes, Glen spoke of how California’s grassland landscapes in the Central Valley are actually heavily dominated by native wildflower species as opposed to perennial grass species. Glen went through some of the history behind the definitions of grasslands in California and elsewhere, noting that Munz’ 1959 “Valley Grassland,” and “Coastal Prairie” were really the first detailed definitions put forward for these areas in California. He spoke of John Muir’s travels across the central valley in 1868 on his way to his beloved Yosemite, and Mr. Muir’s noting of the abundance of wildflowers and lack of grasses. However, somewhere along the way, these valley grassland areas became “non-native grasslands.” Glen described how calling these areas “Non-native grasslands” due to the lack of native grass species really does them a disservice. He noted Richard Minnich’s book entitled “California’s Fading Wildflowers,” and how that author too, makes the case for wildflowers as dominants in the plant communities of the Central Valley. And, he spent quite a bit of time discussing our own Carrizo Plain! Glen’s writings about wildflowers and his excellent photographs can be found in the CNPS Journal Fremontia, specifically the May and September 2011 issue focusing on California’s Prairies and Grasslands. So, let’s start calling our high-quality native grasslands California prairies! (Note that Holland and Keil’s 1995 book “California Vegetation” describes the Arroyo de la Cruz area in San Luis Obispo County as “coastal prairie,” or a “northern coastal grassland community.”)

Community Award To One Cool Earth

John Chesnut presented a Community Award to One Cool Earth, represented by Executive Director Greg Ellis. Recipients of the Community Award are selected because of the significant contribution they’ve made toward promoting native plants outside of the CNPS organization. The Sinton Family was the first recipient of this award in the 1970s, honored for the family’s generous allowance of public access to Shell Creek for wildflower viewing.

Special Acknowledgement to Allie Watts

A special recognition was also given at this year’s banquet to Allie Watts. For the past couple of years, Allie has been the team leader for Region II District D of the Watershed Stewards Program (WSP), part of the California Conservation Corps, in collaboration with the City of San Luis Obispo. Allie has been the key organizer for the SLO Creek restoration project at the Mission Plaza in San Luis Obispo. She recently termed out of her position at WSP, and has continued to coordinate the project in a volunteer capacity. Allie has worked hand in hand with CNPS to procure the native plants and organize volunteers for several workdays at the Plaza. Her enthusiasm and many hours of work have kept this project going for the past year and a half. Congratulations Allie! You can learn more about WSP at: http://www.ccc.ca.gov/go/wsp.

Hoover Award To Bill Waycott

Neil Havlik presented this year’s Hoover award to Bill Waycott, our President, for his noteworthy contributions to CNPS, both the local chapter and the statewide organization. Neil told stories of Bill dating back to their shared time at UC Santa Barbara, and, Neil shared his unique story of their reconnection right here in San Luis Obispo after several years. We thank you Bill, and Congratulations to you! Prior Hoover award recipients select the recipient of this award based on their accomplishments in education, conservation, and chapter support. The award is named for Dr. Robert Hoover, a Cal Poly professor of botany.

Bill Waycott recognized for exceptional service to our chapter. Recent awardees include: Neil Havlik (2015), Judi Young (2014), and Suzette Girouard (2013).