Sudden Oak Death Blitz #3 2015

Sudden Oak Death Blitz #3 – 2015 San Luis Obispo – May 15, 16, 17 (Friday, Saturday, Sunday)

Sudden Oak Death (SOD), a serious exotic disease, is threatening the survival of tanoak and several oak species in California. Currently SOD is found in 14 coastal California counties, from Monterey to Humboldt. Researchers have discovered that Phytophthora ramorum, the pathogen that causes SOD, spreads most often on infected California bay laurel leaves. Some management options are available, but they are effective only if implemented before oaks and tanoaks are infected; hence, timely detection of the disease on bay laurel leaves is essential for a successful proactive attempt to slow down the SOD epidemic.

This is a great opportunity to participate in a state-wide, very successful citizen science program. None of the samples collected in 2013 and 2014 were positive for SOD. But, it is very important to continue the monitoring to ensure this disease does not appear in SLO County or to manage the disease if we do get a positive result.

Purpose of SOD BLITZ:

The SOD-blitz is to inform and educate the community about the disease and its effects, get locals involved in detecting the disease, and produce detailed local maps of disease distribution. The map can then be used to identify those areas where the infestation may be mild enough to justify proactive management.

  • A community meeting/training session held on a Friday evening; followed by collection of leaf samples by volunteers on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Samples and accompanying forms are then turned in at a central location Saturday and Sunday afternoon/evenings.
  • We will provide a list of recommended areas for sampling at the meeting. We will divide into groups for collecting. Ideally, one person in a group will have a GPS device or tablet or phone with GPS capability.

San Luis Obispo SOD BLITZ – 2015 Training Friday, May 15, 6 pm to 7-7:30 pm, SLO County Department of Agriculture, 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo, CA Map Link

Collecting – Saturday and Sunday, May 16 and 17 (Locations to be determined). All of the materials necessary for the training and the collecting over weekend will be provided.

If you need additional information on the SLO SOD Blitz, please contact Lauren Brown: , (805)460-6329 or (805)570-7993

For general SOD Blitz information, please visit –

Conservation May 2015

As I explained in last month’s newsletter, we didn’t expect to wring any more concessions from the County, and so that now a solar developer can take a 40 acre parcel and turn it to solar without an environmental impact report, just a biological study where CNPS will be notified of the project but, apparently, has no avenue through which to recommend changes without going through an expensive appeal process.

We are still waiting the final EIR on the Arroyo Grande oilfield. There is massive public concern about exploding oil trains that is causing decisions on the Conoco-Phillips rail spur to be delayed. There are some disturbing projects being proposed that CNPS must watch with care about to enter the pipeline. Two of them are in the Avila area, with one being Wild Cherry Canyon on land that nearly got bought for State Parks, and a second as amendments to the San Luis Bay Estates Master Development Plan and General Plan that would allow development near the club house at the golf course. A map of the proposed San Luis Bay Estates plan shows it on a now grassy slope immediately north of the tennis courts and parking, which are both due north of the highway bridge. The same developer, Rob Rossi, is proposing about 100 single- family homes, a 100- to 120-room hotel, and about 50 retirement units near the Blacklake clubhouse (or possibly an estimated 110 to 130 residential homes, about 130 hotel rooms, 100 retirement units and 25 spaces for recreational vehicles as proposed to Nipomo Community Service District). Water demand in the Blacklake project would be mitigated through removal of golf greens. These days the main issue in any new development is demand for additional water, and this is of central interest to CNPS , where our primary interest would seem to be habitat conservation. Our interest lies in the increasing restrictions on application of water for horticulture, as native plant gardening is a central interest to our members. The drought is now placing native plant communities such as oak, Monterey pine, Morro manzanita and other species at great risk where the plants have been conserved in an urban setting. This is commonly a mitigation that allowed development in these plant communities, and the plants persist and young plants are recruited under “normal” rain conditions. We are now seeing massive die-off of young plants in areas that are never watered, and there are limitations on the amount of grey water that can be allocated to their salvation in the garden environment. Cambria residents should try to keep young pines alive so that the famous forest will persist, although the large older trees appear to be doomed in many parts of the forest where mortality rates are locally very high.

What can you do to save water that would otherwise go down the drain? Plug the shower drain and scoop water into buckets to transport out to the yard. Save sink water, vegetable washing water in buckets at the sink. Smell worse? Do whatever needs to be done to keep those natives alive without pouring good drinking water on them.

— David Chipping

Conservation April 2015

CNPS addressed the SLO County Planning Commission three times, and the Board of Supervisors once regarding plans to change local zoning to allow solar and wind projects to be ‘fast-tracked’. As a result it seems CNPS will be notified when a project enters the fast track system, and in a surprise move, County said it let us look at botanic reports. We also got the maximum acreage to be considered by a ministerial position to be reduced from 160 acres to 40 acres. How much of this will stick when the Board of Supervisors make a decision on March 24th, but I don’t expect to get much more in the way of concessions.

As I stated last month, CNPS is strongly for alternative energy, but just want to avoid needless destruction of valuable habitat in the process. We had requested that the requirement that land be “disturbed” before entering Fast Track be extended to 40 acres rather than the current cap of 20 acres. CNPS has been hanging out all on its lonesome in this issue, so there does not be much political pressure to give us what we want.

Given that CNPS, upon being notified about a project, could warn of the potential presence of rare plants, we are going to try to locate the positions of all plants of CEQA significance that may exist in herbarium records. That way, when we are notified, we can make an intelligent response.

I was asked to go on a tour of the Topaz Solar Farm with a group of people to look at the conditions inside the panel array blocks. I am happy to report that they were surprisingly good, with grass and fiddleneck being more robust under the panels that in open areas. As several people have addressed possible negative impacts to carbon sequestration when grazing land is converted to panel fields, it would seem that the way the panels have been designed won’t have significant impact in this regard. It seems reduced evaporative stress counters the reduced light under the panels. Topaz will use sheep to graze under the panels, so much of their land has gone from dry grain farming to sheep meadow. One suspects that weedy native annuals such as fiddleneck and phacelia will persist on the site. Attempts to introduce native bunch grasses under the panels seem to be of their land has gone from dry grain farming to sheep meadow. One suspects that weedy native annuals such as fiddleneck and phacelia will persist on the site. Attempts to introduce native bunch grasses under the panels seem to be successful.David Chipping

President’s Input April 2015

The results of our membership survey are now available for review. Interestingly, the topic that received the most responses by far was plant lists for popular trails and local parks. There was a group of topics that clustered in the middle. These included: trainings to identify rare, invasive, medicinal and edible plants and the milkweed project, followed by public native gardens and plant conservation projects.

Now that we are clear about our preferences, we will continue to plan for the engagement of our membership in related activities. With regard to plant lists, a number of these lists exist in a semi-finished form. Going forward, we will create groups of volunteers to review and verify the lists by walking the trails and taking inventories. Dr. David Keil or Cal Poly University has agreed to keep the lists updated and monitor them for accuracy.

Regarding plant identification training, we have a strong relationship with the Rare Plant Program statewide. The coordinator for the Rare Plant Treasure Hunts, Danny Slakey has presented two training sessions for our chapter in the past four months. A group of volunteers is now forming to help monitor and describe rare plant populations in the central coast region.

Interest in invasive plant ID and eradication has been brought to the attention of CNPS by local governmental agencies and will be developed later this year. Members interested in working with these agencies will be trained to assist in field identification and control.

As far as public native gardens and the milkweed project go, a number of our members are already active in these areas. With the drought continuing for another year and the monarch butterflies under attack, CNPS will bolster these efforts as we participate in demonstration gardens and exhibits by advocating the numerous benefits of diverse native plant landscapes.

Lastly, our chapter will continue its efforts to monitor land development projects in our region to insure adequate environmental review. CNPS has vast resources that can be utilized when assessing potential land development and disturbance. Volunteers will be needed to work with our conservation committee to thoroughly vet projects prior to approval and to voice their opinions when these project come up for public comment.

Bill Waycott

Wildflowers and Wildflower Places in San Luis Obispo County

Wildflowers and Wildflower Places in San Luis Obispo County

Thursday, April 16, 2015, 7:00 pm, Vets Hall, San Luis Obispo

Wildflowers and Wildflower Places in San Luis Obispo County

Dr. David Keil

Join us in celebration of California native Plant Week for Dr. Keil’s captivating presentation demonstrating the broad botanical spectrum of flowering plants in our county. Come prepared with your notebooks to record the names of your favorite species.


Indian Knob – Guidetti Ranch

Guidetti Ranch led by Neil Havlik

Sunday, April 19th, 9:00 am

This field trip will be limited to twenty people on a first come first serve basis. The hike is 7 miles round trip and takes about 4 hours. We will meet at Foods For Less parking lot, at the corner of South Higuera and Suburban and drive to the Guidetti Ranch trail head.

We will be looking for the Indian Knob Mountain Balm (Eriodictyon altissimum), and Pismo Clarkia (Clarkia speciosa, ssp.immaculate), among other things.

Bring lunch, plenty of water, sun protection, dress in layers and have good walking shoes. And, be sure to bring your copy of Wildflowers of San Luis Obispo. Sign up with Bill Waycott (805) 459-2103 or

Clarkia speciosa ssp. immaculata from D. Wolfson

Clarkia speciosa ssp. immaculata from D. Wolfson

Eriodictyon altissimum - from J. Chesnut

Eriodictyon altissimum – from J. Chesnut


Please note the changes to this field trip announcement

Saturday, 28th March 2015, 8:00 am, Carrizo Plains

Meet at the Santa Margarita park-and-ride (freeway exit, State Route 58 at Hwy 101) at 8:00 am.  We will caravan from there.  There will be no bathroom stops for about two hours thereafter, so please use the facilities prior to our departure.

This field trip requires us to drive on mountainous, one lane, dirt roads.  Only high clearance vehicles and SUVs can make the trip.  You may be able to carpool with someone who drives this type of vehicle.  Carpool adjustments to accommodate passengers will be made at the park-and-ride.

Make sure you have plenty of gas, water, as well as food, sunscreen, sturdy shoes, layered clothing, and a hat.  We will be doing some walking, but no long hikes. We’ll be back to Santa Margarita about 6:00 pm.  Those planning to participate in this field trip should contact: George Butterworth,, by giving their name and telephone number.

Update to Upcoming Field Trips

Here are updates on two of the upcoming CNPS field trips scheduled for the next two Saturdays.

A Report on Saturday’s field trip to the Carrizo Plain

From: George Butterworth

On 22nd March, I was out at the Carrizo Plain.  There were still big fields of purple valley Phacelia, but they were starting to fade. Goldfields on Soda Lake Rd and Belmont Trail were good but also starting to burn. Tidy tips were not so numerous but in better shape and will probably be there Saturday.  Big slopes of hillside daisies (Monolopia) can be seen in some places, like the Temblor Range;  I don’t know what condition they will be in Saturday. There is some beautiful owl’s clover, which will be there. fiddleneck is abundant; some should be there. There is a good patch of rare Jared’s peppergrass on Belmont Trial; don’t know about it next week. I haven’t been on Caliente mountain.

The weather is supposed to continue dry, with heat starting Thursday. The Saturday forecast is 84F. So it’s likely that many  of the flowers will dry up. A week ago would have been the right time.

021I also went to a place where tule elk hang out a lot. They were there. We’ll try that Saturday. I’ve been seeing pronghorn often. We’ll try for that. I know of an active burrowing owl nest; there’s a good chance for that. We’ll see owl’s clover, Salinas milk vetch, popcorn flower, fiddleneck, and probably daisies and tidy tips.   Maybe some valley Phacelia and goldfields still. Probably valley larkspur. I’m not planning on going up the mountain or to Painted Rock; the Visitor Center is a maybe. We’ll visit new state land, Soda Lake Rd., maybe Soda Lake, maybe Belmont Trail, maybe Hwy. 58 up the Temblors.

A Report on next Saturday’s (4th April) field trip to Shell Creek

Based on recent reports and the prognosis of temperatures reaching the high 80s later this week, it is very likely the field trip to Shell Creek on4th April will be cancelled.

Field trip updates are posted to this website and sent out in email. Not receiving email bulletins? Just add your email address in the Get CNPS-SLO Update via Email box to the right of the page and click Submit.

Tejon Ranch

Tejon Ranch

Saturday, 21st March 2015, 9 am, Tejon Ranch 

Please note the location of the field trip has changed:  We will meet at the Tejon Ranch Conservancy office located at the Lebec exit off of Interstate-5 (Exit 207) in Lebec, CA at 9 am.

Join us for a day-long visit to the Tejon Hills, part of the Tejon Ranch Land Trust, located on the western slope of the Tehachapi Mountains south of Arvin, CA.

For those who have high-clearance vehicles, please bring them; we will be driving some rough dirt roads, and even better if your HCV has four-wheel drive.

The field trip will last most of the day.  Carpooling from San Luis Obispo is an option.

If you plan to participate, contact Bill Waycott, (805) 459-2103, as soon as possible.

Rain cancels.

map to Tejon Ranch
Tejon Ranch Conservancy directions to office

Islay Hill

Islay Hill CNPS-SLO Field Trip

Sunday, March 22nd at 9:00 am

Join us for a relaxed, easy to moderate hike up Islay Hill, one of the Morros, located at the south end of San Luis Obispo.

At this time, many of the natives are in bloom or on the verge of blooming. There are over fifty genera to be found. The objective of this field trip is to catalog and photograph many, if not all of the native plants on this hill for future use and reference.

The hike is 2.5 miles with a 500 foot elevation gain and should last approximately 2 to 3 hours.

Meet at the end of Sweetbay Lane. To reach the trail head, take Tank Farm Rd. east past Hwy 227 and past Islay Park (located at the Orcutt Rd. intersection), take the next right-turn onto Spanish Oaks Dr. Stay on Spanish Oaks Dr for 1/2 mile, turn left onto Sweet Bay Lane, and park at the end of the street.

Bring a hat, sturdy shoes, sunscreen, camera, paper and pen, water, and a snack.

For more info, contact John Doyle (805) 748-7190.

Heavy rain cancels this field trip.