CNPS Conservation Symposium and Field Trips

CNPS Conservation Symposium and Field Trips

It’s time to register for the CNPS Conservation Symposium and field trips to be held in Morro Bay from 8th to 11th September. The field trips are scheduled for Thursday, Friday, and Sunday, with the Conservation Symposium on Saturday at the Morro Bay Vet’s Hall, 209 Surf Street. These events are free and open to the public – Members are encouraged to attend so please register at the link below.

Register

You are also encouraged to attend the mixer and banquet after the Symposium Saturday night – with our own native plant superstar, Dave Keil, as the banquet speaker – there will be a $30 fee for the catered meal.

Conservation Symposium

Saturday, 10th September, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm

Morro Bay Vet’s Hall, 209 Surf Street, Morro Bay

This year’s Symposium will address the complex issues associated with climate change, as they relate to California native plant conservation.  The Symposium presentations will focus on three areas:

  1. Hands-on projects that incorporate climate change considerations during planning and implementation
  2. Modeling of future vegetation projects based on climate change projections
  3. How regional planning considers and incorporates climate change.

Area A – Hands-on projects:

Speaker Ellen Cypher: Creating new populations of an endangered species: recovery efforts for Bakersfield cactus

Speaker Jessica Wright: Identifying valley oaks that grow best under projected climate conditions

Speaker Todd Esque: The Race North: Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) and climate change

Area B – Modeling of vegetation dynamics:

Speaker Alexandra Syphard: Modeling vegetation dynamics under global change: Approaches, challenges, and examples

Area C – Regional conservation planning:

Proponents of the new Regional Conservation Framework (California Assembly Bill 2087 and pilot projects) will present the nuts and bolts of this approach to regional planning.  CNPS members from around the state will be asked to discuss how they have engaged in and commented to planning projects, while assessing how the degree climate change thinking has begun to influence planning decisions.

Roundtable discussion:

Speaker Jerre Stallcup, a longtime conservation planner, will share her perspectives on how “doing it the old-fashioned way” has evolved since the early 90’s in Southern California. Key points that help to support plants in any kind of regional planning process will also be presented.  She will help us understand the many facets of how and where climate change thinking is being translated into native plant research, restoration projects, and planning.

Symposium Lunch: ($10 per person, please register), Saturday, 10th September, 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm

Choice of sandwich on baguette, served banquet style with green salad, fresh fruit, chips, and cookies:

  • roast beef
  • turkey
  • veggie

Symposium Mixer and Banquet: ($30 per person, please register), Saturday, 10th September, Morro Bay Vet’s Hall, 209 Surf Street, Morro Bay 

Mixer/Social, 5:30 to 6:30 pm

Dinner, 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm

Buffet with:

  • Greek Caesar salad
  • Roasted garlic potatoes
  • Marinated roasted vegetables
  • Assorted rolls and butter

Entree choice:

  • Vegetarian sautéed portabella mushroom stuffed with cheese ravioli
  • Lemon garlic herb chicken with mango q
  • Roasted pork tenderloin with cherry sauce.

Dessert:

  • Linn’s fruit pies with ice cream.

Banquet speaker: Saturday, 10th September, Dave Keil – the Native Flora of San Luis Obispo County  

Dr. Dave Keil is Professor Emeritus of Biology at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.  Dave has had a lifelong interest and enthusiasm for botany.  He received his B.S. and M.S. in botany from Arizona State University and his Ph.D. from Ohio State University.  He has taught courses in general botany, plant taxonomy, field botany, evolution, and biogeography.  For many years Dave served as Curator of the Robert F. Hoover Herbarium at Cal Poly.  He has authored scientific papers, textbooks, and study guides, and has been a major contributor to the Jepson Manual and the Flora of North America. His research interests include Asteraceae systematics and floristics of Western North America.  He edited the Wildflowers of San Luis Obispo and is preparing the second edition of the Vascular Plants of San Luis Obispo County.


Field trip schedule

Thursday – 8th September Morning – 8:30 am to 12:00 noon

East Cuesta Ridge, Los Padres National Forest

Led by Dave Keil, Cal Poly; co-leader Bill Waycott, CNPS

Meet at entrance to East Cuesta Ridge (Mount Lowe Rd.), off Highway 101 at the top of the Cuesta Grade, 30 minutes from Morro Bay.

This is a driving tour along the ridge separating coastal and interior regions in the Los Padres National Forest.  See diverse plant communities and spectacular views of the coastal plain with its nine Morros, the city of San Luis Obispo, and the Pacific Ocean.

No more than 0.5 miles walking; elevation gain no more than 100 feet

Afternoon – 1:30 pm to 5:00 pm

Sand Spit at Montaña de Oro State Park

Led by Michael Walgren, CA State Parks; co-leader: Bill Waycott, CNPS

Meet at the Sand Spit Road parking lot, at the end of Sand Spit Rd., in Montaña de Oro State Park, 15 minutes from Morro Bay.

Start by walking to the beach through a rich stand of coastal dune scrub, then north along the beach to an access trail into the dunes.  Hike across the dunes, observing the fore-, mid-, and far-dune plant communities.  Return through maritime chaparral, via the Old Army Rd..

2.5 miles walking; elevation gain 300 feet

Friday – 9th September Morning – 8:30 am to 12:00 noon

Serpentine plants near San Luis Obispo

Led by Dave Keil, Cal Poly; co-leader: Bill Waycott, CNPS

Meet at the entrance to Bog Thistle Trail, in the Irish Hills Natural Reserve, on Perfumo Canyon Rd., roughly 1.0 miles from the intersection with Los Osos Valley Rd.  The trailhead is on the left. 20 minutes from Morro Bay.

Walk the Bog Thistle and Mariposa Trails.  See plants of the central coast chaparral scrub community adapted to serpentine derived soils, with a handful of rare endemic species native to San Luis Obispo County. 

2.0 miles walking; elevation gain 500 feet

Afternoon – 1:30 pm to 5:00 pm

Field Trip, Coon Creek at Montaña de Oro State Park

Led by Lisa Andreano, CA State Parks; co-leader: David Chipping, CNPS

Meet at the Coon Creek parking lot, at the end of Pecho Valley Rd. in Montaña de Oro State Park. 20 minutes from Morro Bay.

Walk going east along Coon Creek Trail and return going west via Rattlesnake Flats Trail.  The Coon Creek Trail follows a coastal canyon with a perennial creek and is filled with riparian species typically seen further north.  Rattlesnake Flats Trial returns by ascending the south-facing slope of the canyon with a healthy sampling of maritime chaparral species.

4 miles walking; elevation gain 500 feet

Sunday – 11th September

Afternoon – 1:30 pm Field trip – Morro Bay State Park Estuary

John Sayers, California State Parks, co-leader: Bill Waycott, CNPS

Meet at the parking lot for Morro Bay State Park Marina off Main Street, across from the entrance to Morro Bay State Park Campground.

Visit several access points by car around the perimeter of Morro Bay Estuary.  See and discuss plants growing in brackish water within the tidal zone, beyond the high tide line, and further inland.  Discuss effects to this fragile habitat because of climate change.

0.5 miles walking; elevation gain 50 feet


If you have any questions or need for more information, please contact Bill Waycott, (805) 459-2103, bill.waycott@gmail.com

Also, if you can offer a bed to a member from out of town during the conference, please let Bill know as soon as possible.

CNPS Conservation Symposium and Field Trips Information, schedules, links, and the registration page

Image: By Leif Arne Storset – originally posted to Flickr as Bishop Peak, CC BY 2.5

 

Restoring Mission Creek

Restoring Mission Creek

The Mission Plaza riverwalk in downtown San Luis Obispo caters to thousands of central coast tourists and SLO community members every year. While SLO creek is widely admired, the riparian and creek bed vegetation leaves much to be desired. The City of San Luis Obispo Natural Resources Manager, Robert Hill, began to talk with the Executive Director of the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) and Cal Poly Horticulture and Crop Science professor, Bill Waycott, about the possibility of restoration for the riverwalk. This initial talk led to the involvement of others on the project including: Freddy Otte, the City of SLO City Biologist, John Doyle, landscape architect for J. Doyle Landscape and Construction, and Cal Poly Emeritus professor and curator of vascular plants, Dr. David Keil. The group met once to begin making plans but, the project was slow-moving with each member having a tremendous workload to manage for their respective jobs. The passion for the restoration was present; the time for the project work was missing.

For the past two years, Freddy Otte has been a Mentor for the Watershed Stewards Program (WSP) at the San Luis Obispo Steelhead Initiative. At the mention of the need for help with the restoration project, Freddy mentioned the possibility of collaboration to one of the Region II Team Leaders for the WSP SLO Office, Allie Watts. The Watershed Stewards Program is an AmeriCorps program and a special program of the California Conservation Corps whose goal is salmonid habitat restoration throughout California. WSP aims to give young natural resource professionals the hands on experience with experts in fisheries, conservation, and environmental fields during their 10 ½ month service term. Each Team Leader and Member of WSP must complete a watershed restoration project to fulfill part of their program requirements. The SLO Creek Restoration project would be the perfect fulfillment for WSP and truly allow Allie to immerse herself in the SLO community.

After email introductions, Allie began setting up meetings with all the project leaders to put these plans into action. The SLO Creek Restoration project team met several times prior to the first volunteer day on April 27th, 2016. The team decided the first plan of action was to remove the many invasive species throughout the riparian area of SLO Creek from the footbridge near Chorro Street to Broad Street. In general, invasive plants have shallow root structures which cause erosion into the creek in rain events. They also outcompete native plant species which provide valuable habitat for native animals living there, have deep root systems that reduce erosion, and are drought tolerant plants. Common invasive species the team planned to remove included: Vinca (periwinkle), Agapanthus (), and Ailanthus altissima (Tree of Heaven).

Allie, Freddy, Bill, John, and Martha Rutherford, CNPS member, became the core leaders on the team and worked together to recruit volunteers, procure tools and safety gear, and spread the word about the event. On April 27th, 2016, the team’s hardwork was rewarded when over 140 volunteers showed up to remove invasive plants at SLO Creek. The volunteers ranged from Cal Poly students, CCC corpsmembers, community leaders from CNPS and the Downtown Association to local community members and families. While invasive removal is an ongoing process, this volunteer day was an excellent step in the right direction for the health of the SLO Creek riparian area. The shock of bare riparian areas kept the team’s momentum high moving forward.

The following meetings focused on native planting plans. Dr. David Keil provided great insight into the appropriate native plants that would thrive in the conditions at SLO Creek. Using his list, the team decided to reach out to the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) student chapter at Cal Poly to acquire a planting palette. Brandon Cornejo, ASLA member, took charge of the project and the team was supplied with a base conceptual planting map and palette to allow the native planting volunteer days at SLO Creek to begin. Using the ASLA map and recommendations from Dr. Keil, the native plants were purchased from local nurseries, Growing Grounds, Las Pilitas, and Clearwater Color, and donated by project leaders. On March 12th, 2016 the team hosted the first native planting volunteer day at SLO Creek. Around twenty volunteers consisting of community members, WSP members, and CCC corpsmembers came out to help plant eighty native species in the first round of planting restoration. All volunteers learned proper planting techniques and the importance of creating a bern around the plant’s base. The bern is essentially a channel around the plant that keeps water close, allowing it to sink in. The berns were especially important for the natives planted on a downhill slope to ensure runoff was not rolling into the creek.

Following the initial planting, Allie continued to hand water all the plants once a week for four months and monitoring their progress. About 70% of the native species planted on the first volunteer day survived. During these four months, the team continued to meet to discuss the plant’s progress, future planting volunteer days, and future signage for the creek. ASLA and Brandon were instrumental in delivering a large “Back to the Natives” planting sign for SLO Creek. This sign features educational information on native and invasive plants as well as photos of the plants. The final sign is set to be approved by the city in September or October of this year. Upon approval and after more restoration work is completed next year, two large signs will be printed and placed at either end of the project, near the footbridge by Broad Street and past the footbridge near Chorro Street. In addition to the large signs, small native plant signs will be placed near different plant species in the riparian area to help community members and tourists identify California riparian native plants. The goal for all of this signage is to help educate and enhance the visitors experience when walking near the creek.

After a four-month hiatus, the team scheduled another large native species planting volunteer day at SLO Creek. On July 23rd, 2016, around twenty volunteers consisting of community members and families, WSP members, and CCC corpsmembers came out to SLO Creek to help plant 108 more native plants and place bark mulch throughout the planted area of the project to help soak up water and prevent weed and invasive species growth. With one area of the project beginning to adapt to the native plant growth, the project team feels good about the current condition of the river walk but knows there is still more work to do. When asked why this project was so vital for SLO Creek and the city, Bill Waycott explained in saying, “The pristine landscapes of Coastal California are slowly being colonized by invasive plants introduced from other parts of the world. The banks of the perennial creek that flows through downtown San Luis Obispo is no exception. Local residents can make a difference in stemming the tide of invasives by learning what California native plants look like and opting to use them when planting an area. Our mild climate and abundant sunshine provide the opportunity for non-native plants to thrive, having negative consequences. Restoration of SLO Creek at the Mission Plaza will serve as an excellent example of the use of native plants to all who visit our city.” This project will take years to reach its full potential but, this team is all committed to this county and continuing to be a part of the SLO Creek Restoration team. Next October or November the team will be hosting another volunteer event to plant native species, remove some limited invasive growth, and place bark mulch throughout the second area past the footbridge near Broad Street. Moving forward the project team envisions, the removal of the sprouts and large Tree of Heaven near the creek, more volunteer days for native planting in the first area and the second, creekbed invasive removal and native planting volunteer days, and inputting the large and individual educational signage.

CNPS Chapter Council Meeting to be held in Morro Bay!

CNPS Chapter Council Meeting to be held in Morro Bay!

The September meeting of the CNPS Chapter Council will be held in Morro Bay from Thursday to Sunday, September 8-11, 2016.

This meeting is held four times per year in different parts of the state (the last meeting was held near Lake Tahoe), and is attended by delegates and representatives from the majority of CNPS’s 35 chapters statewide, along many CNPS staff from the Sacramento office. The San Luis Obispo chapter is hosting this meeting and we hope our membership will participate in the events being offered. The Morro Bay Vet’s Hall (209 Surf Street) will serve as the location of meetings between Friday noon to Sunday noon.

Meeting Agenda

Thursday and Friday, we plan to offer field trips to choice botanical destinations on the Central Coast. Friday afternoon, the State Board of Directors will also meet between 2:00 and 6:00 pm at the Vet’s Hall, followed by a no-host dinner at a local restaurant. Local members are invited to participate in the field trips, board meeting, as well as “meet and eat” dinner, Friday night.

For Saturday, the session will focus on Statewide Conservation Projects, with a series of presentations devoted to all-things pertaining to California native flora conservation. The Sunday morning session will be devoted to Chapter Council business topics, with another field trip planned for Sunday afternoon. Local members are encouraged to participate in Saturday’s Conservation Symposium as well as Sunday afternoon’s field trip.

An official agenda of the meeting will be circulated by mid-August.

Accommodations

An important tradition of the Chapter Council meetings is the offer by local members of free accommodations to outside participants during the event. If you have the ability to accommodate one or more participants from outside the area in your home, please send an e-mail or call Bill Waycott, bill.waycott@gmail.com, (805) 459-2103, to discuss your offer. In your communication, please indicate the number of persons to be accommodated and whether there is a sexual preference or not.

Current motel prices for that weekend in the Morro Bay – San Luis Obispo area are easily above $150 per night. The offer of a bed with access to a bathroom will go a long way in making the meeting more affordable for those traveling to our area. One never knows – hosting one or more visitors may create a lasting friendship that can be reciprocated in the future. Plus, these folks know their native plants and will be happy to talk about the botany of their area.

Protecting Our Oaks II

Protecting Our Oaks II

SLO County Supervisors are meeting Tuesday August 16 and they need to hear from YOU!

Many voices REALLY DO make a difference!  Especially now that some of the uproar about the Justin clearcutting debacle has died down. (more…)

Urgency Tree ordinance

Urgency Tree ordinance

Next Tuesday, 8/16/16, the SLO County Board of Supervisors will consider the continuance of the Urgency Tree ordinance generated by the Justin oak cuttings. Property rights people will likely flood the meeting to halt any attempt at oak protection, and we need you there… the meeting starts at 9:00 am on the 16th. Just being there in favor of the ordinance or of the value of oaks will help, but going to the podium and saying a few words in favor would be extremely valuable. Speak as individuals, as CNPS board members will make presentations on behalf of the society. We are also concerned that if the required 4:5 vote to continue does not go through, the BOS will then vote to work on a permanent ordinance. This should NOT happen, as it might generate a vast amount of cutting by land speculators in anticipation of a future ordinance. This sort of thing happened with well drilling in the face of promised restrictions in the Paso Robles Basin.

– David Chipping, Conservation Chair

San Luis Obispo Creek July 23rd 2016 Volunteer Event

San Luis Obispo Creek July 23rd 2016 Volunteer Event

Running through the heart of downtown near Mission Plaza,  San Luis Obispo Creek is a vital part of our watershed that is in need of restoration. The Watershed Stewards Program (WSP) in partnership with the City of San Luis Obispo, the California Native Plant Society (CNPS), The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Student Chapter at Cal Poly, and Growing Grounds will be hosting a volunteer event Saturday July 23rd from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm to remove invasive plants, plant native species, cover the area with tree bark and in the future, post educational signage along the creek between Broad and Chorro streets.

Read the full Press Release

Protecting Our Oaks

Protecting Our Oaks

Justin Vineyards just cut down hundreds of Oaks

Justin Vineyards is coming under fire for clear-cutting oaks from their property outside Paso Robles. Justin is owned by The Wonderful Company, who also owns Teleflora, Halo’s, Pom Wonderful, Fiji water and other brands. (more…)

What I’ve Learned: I need patience and I don’t have the right shoes

What I’ve Learned: I need patience and I don’t have the right shoes

Image: By Gmihail at Serbian Wikipedia (Own work) 
[CC BY-SA 3.0 rs (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/rs/deed.en) 
or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

I volunteer at the botanic garden Tuesday mornings. The display of yellow Viola on the undeveloped portion of the hills was wonderful this year and it occurred to me that there would be lots of seeds. I would really like to have the propagation crew at the garden try to grow some of these as I think they would make a nice addition to our gardens. Granted they disappear in the heat of the summer but they could make a nice groundcover under some of our shrubs and need no water in the dry time. So I approached Eve. Eve is the person who started the garden as an extension of her senior project at Cal Poly. She was receptive to the idea. I asked if I could take a bit more for other uses. Again the answer was yes and extended to some of the other plants on the hills. So when I thought the seeds might be ready I ventured out.

These are hills that are brown in the summer. They are covered with oats and ripgut and some other not so nice plants. But there are patches of Viola and Sidalcea and Sisyrhincium. So I had a goal of collecting all three. Finding those patches was not always easy. The plants disappear into the dried grasses. But I could find some. And in my wandering looking for patches I was excited to discover that not only are there the invasive sorts of grasses but there was lots of Stipa pulcra, some Melica californica, Melica imperfecta (or at least a different kind of Melica), Elymus triticoides (I think), Elymus condensatus, Hordeum bracyantherum and the most exciting find, for me, was some Danthonia californica. I am not collecting seeds of those grasses because they are not represented in great numbers and I want all the seed that’s there to possibly increase populations. But I am collecting the seeds of the Viola, Sidalcea, and hopefully the Sisyrhincum.

However,  patience is a requirement. Finding the patches of Viola was not nearly as challenging as finding the seeds ready to gather. I am honing my observational skills and getting up close and personal with the plants. I was looking for black, ripe seeds so black drew my attention.  Often the black was a little beetle that I saw only on violets.  Is this a good bug or a bad bug? I have no idea. But if it is providing food for the birds in my book it’s a good bug. Perhaps it’s one of those specialist bugs that only use one plant. Questions. Down on my knees I can see the developing seed capsules and I have observed that as they ripen they lift and point to the sky. Once ripe, the capsules pop open. Sometimes a few seeds remain in the opened capsule. Whether these are defective or not I don’t know but I have collected them. At least they are black. Picking a few capsules early results in green seeds. I have picked a few, unopened but upturned, which have resulted in the sound of popping seeds in the paper bags at home. I have gotten some black seeds out of these. My favorite find is to see the open capsule, still green, and filled with black seeds. Treasure!  But it has taken weeks of venturing up on the hill to get a few tablespoons of seeds. Some of these will find their way to the seed exchange.

The Sidalcea is another story. I found that many of the flowers did not develop into seeds, but in some areas there were more that developed than others. Does this reflect the presence of more pollinators in some areas than others? In some areas the stalks were half gone. Are they browse for deer?  More observations lead to more questions. But I did collect a few seeds that seemed to be ripe. The capsules on these plants seemed to dry with the seeds remaining in the capsule. But as they dried they would separate a bit and I found that if I just brushed my fingers across a capsule seeds would fall into my hand. I found capsules with just a few seeds remaining so assumed these were ripe. I don’t have many seeds of these but after sharing with the botanic garden a few will end up at the seed exchange. You should want these. I have a Sidalcea grown from seed that has been blooming for several months in my garden. I think it’s beautiful.

As for the Sisyrhincium, I don’t have seeds yet and am not sure that I will. Those patches, which were so obvious and seemed so huge when they were covered with their blue-purple blossoms, are very hard to find when there is no flower to beckon. Those that I have found are not yet ripe. The capsules are still green and I don’t know if I will have any luck finding ripe seeds. But I am going to try.

What about not having the right shoes? The shoes I wear at the botanic garden are really old worn out hiking shoes with that open mesh sort of fabric for breathability. They are really great grass seed collectors. Those seeds penetrate through the open mesh and through my smart wool socks and into my skin. Almost intolerable. Before I drive home I have to remove my shoes and get rid of those seeds. I am pleased to find that they collect Stipa seeds too which means that there are plenty of Stipa seeds to be had. But I am very conscious of the fact that I don’t want to be transferring these seeds to the trails so they are no longer used for hiking.

Reminder: Seed exchange before the October meeting.

-Marti Rutherford

On Veldt Grass

On Veldt Grass

Image courtesy of jkirkhart35 | https://www.flickr.com/photos/jkirkhart35/

Some of the most notorious invasive plants such as Carpobrotus, slender leaved ice plant, and cape ivy come from South Africa. Another quite bad one is Veldt grass (Ehrharta calycina). This bunch grass has wide (1/4″) leaves, is glaucous (grey-green) until it matures and turns maroon. From the road it has red tops which turn blond. The seed stems can reach chest height. It is a perennial that produces an incredible amount of seeds and grows throughout the year near the coast, living off fog drip, but mainly follows the rainy winter. Veldt grass is awful because it crowds and overwhelms other plants.

To be rid of it, manually pulling mature plants, including the buried crown of the plant is necessary or resprouting will occur. But this also this often stimulates seed germination. Manual removal must be repeated as seedlings appear from the seedbank. Serious infestations can be sprayed with a grasss-specific herbicide such as Fusilade. Timing is critical, especially after the first several inches of rain. Some applicators report that postemergence treatment to plants over 4 inches tall is much more effective compared to treating smaller plants. If your locale has had Veldt for a long time keep at it until the seed bank is exhausted. The task is very difficult in drought and easy in wet years.

Best wishes weed warriors.

-Mark Skinner

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