CNPS Chapter Council Meeting – 30 and 31 May 2015, Quincy, CA

CNPS Chapter Council Meeting – 30 and 31 May 2015, Quincy, CA

Chapter Council meetings are held quarterly at locations somewhere in California/Baja California. They are attended by interested members and the public. Designated representatives from each of the thirty-five Chapters attend, as do the directors of the board, officers, CNPS staff, and interested members. (more…)

Mission Plaza – San Luis Creek Restoration Project

Mission Plaza – San Luis Creek Restoration Project

Earlier this year, SLO city officials approached CNPS with the idea of restoring the deteriorated riparian habitat, which runs through the downtown adjacent to the Mission Plaza, with California native species. Our local chapter has embraced this project with great enthusiasm. (more…)

Landscaping in drought

As we search for answers to deal with the prolonged drought, I’m sure many of you are wondering what this summer will do to your landscape?

Luckily, most of you are well ahead of the game because you already have planted California native plants in your garden. You prepared years ago for this knowing that someday we would have a drought. Now the question is, what can I do to help my plants make it through the summer? I am taking the position of hunkering down and taking care of what you already have. Likewise, hold off on new plantings until after summer this coming fall.

Now this month’s topic. Can I use grey water to keep my natives alive? The answer is yes. However, first we must evaluate the requirements of our existing native plants.

Some may be able to go dormant and make it through this summer with very little water such as the salvias. Also, well established native shrubs or trees, five to ten years old, such as pine, cypress, and manzanita will need maybe one good soaking mid summer. Other plants such as Woodwardia, Penstemon and Ceanothus may require extra moisture monthly depending on your soil type. So where do we turn to get this water?

One solution is grey water. But before you start collecting grey water there are a couple of tips you should know.

First there are two types of gray water, clean and dirty. Clean would be the water you collect while waiting for the shower to heat up. This water is preferred for edible plants or natives that are not well established.

Examples of dirty water would be water coming from your washing machine, dirty dish water or kitchen sink rinse water. This water should be used within 24 hours in order to avoid bacterial build up. Dirty grey water can be used to water well established trees, shrubs and ground covers. If you wish, you can allow this water to settle for 24 hours in a larger container. Remove safe water from only the top three quarters of the container. This will allow the solids to settle and the top water will be much cleaner.

I hope this helps a little with this subject. Please feel free to e-mail me with any questions about gardening over the summer, Until I see you again, Happy Gardening.

– John Nowak

The Morros of SLO County

Saturday, June 27

The Morros of SLO County. Join us for a one-day ascent of the five publicly accessible Morros, near San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay. All five Morros can be hiked in succession (see schedule listed below) or selected to suit one’s preferences and conditioning. Each has a beautiful but different vista—from city to oak woodland to grassland to seashore. Total round-trip distance for all five hikes is about 13 miles, with 3,500 ft. elevation gain. Bring plenty of water (store extra water in your vehicle), lunch and snacks, and dress in layers for changing weather. The day is likely to start and end cool, but be quite warm at mid-day. A hat, sunscreen, and sturdy hiking shoes are essential.

Notification with hike leader at least 24 hrs in advance is requested. Leader: Bill Waycott, (805) 459-2103 or e-mail: The plants unique to each of the peaks will be topics for discussion during the hikes.

7:30 a.m. Islay Hill, 2 miles, 500 ft. gain, moderate. The easternmost of the Morros, with views of five others. To trailhead, take Tank Farm Rd. east past Orcutt Rd, then south on Spanish Oaks Dr., then east on Sweet Bay Lane to end.

9:00 a.m. Cerro San Luis, 4 miles, 1,100 ft. gain, moderate. Has knockout views of SLO. Trailhead at the end of Marsh St., just before onramp to Hwy 101 south.

Lunch: 11:15 am to 12:00 pm, Throop Park, corner of Cerro Romauldo Street and Cuesta Drive, in SLO. 12:00 p.m. Bishop Peak, 3.5 miles, 950 ft. gain, moderate. Highest of all the Morros. From Hwy 1, go west on Highland Dr., then right on Patricia Drive. Park at trailhead on Patricia Dr. just before reaching Anacapa Circle.

3:30 p.m. Cerro Cabrillo, 2.5 miles, 800 ft. gain, moderate. 360-degree views from the Santa Lucia Mts. to the coastline. Meet at Quarry Trail trailhead on South Bay Blvd, 1.4 miles south of Hwy 1 or 0.4 miles north of Turri Rd.

6:00 p.m. Black Hill, 0.5 miles, 100 ft. gain, easy. Ocean views from Montana de Oro north to SanSimeon. From South Bay Blvd, drive into Morro Bay State Park, turn right at first fork onto Park View Rd., then right onto Upper State Park Rd. to end.

morros of slo county

Rare Plant Group Formed

By pooling local resources, members of the California Native Plants Society (CNPS) along with students and faculty at Cal Poly University have created a rare plant working group to address the twin tasks of monitoring rare plant populations on the central coast, while also identifying new ones that have gone unnoticed thus far.

On May 9, Dr. David Keil led a group of ten volunteers though a rare plant training workshop at Laguna Lake Park. At the start, each participant was handed a list of 17 rare and endangered species to search out and identify as being present in the area. The list was created from several online databases, prepared through thousands of personal sightings and herbarium specimens collected over many years. To view one such database, go to

Laguna Lake Park in the city of San Luis Obispo is made up of two distinctly different habitats. One is alluvial soil deposited in and around Laguna Lake through centuries of erosion and flooding. The other is a 500 ft. hillock made of serpentine rock, which is mostly stone and very little soil.  Many of the rare plants that are present in this park occur there because of its unique landscape, either the extremes of shifting soil humidities
on the lowlands, or uncommon and nearly barren mineral deposits on the uplands. The challenge this time was to encounter the hard-to-find plants, preferably in bloom, knowing we are in the middle of a major drought.

Of the 17 species on the list, 12 have been given a designation of “1-B,” meaning they are very rare, possibly endangered, localized to few locations within SLO county or in even fewer cases, in scarce pockets spread over a couple of counties. The five species not designed as “1-B,” are listed as “4,” meaning they are more abundant but placed on a watch-list for review from time to time.

rare-plant-group2By the end of our three hour “treasure hunt,” the group had identified 14 of the species on the list. In some cases we found very few individuals, only one clubhaired mariposa lily (Calochortus clavatus, var. clavatus) and one Eastwood’s larkspur (Delphinium parryi, subsp. eastwoodiae) in bloom, while on the other hand finding several thousand San Luis startulips (Calochortus obispoensis) and carpets of Brewer’s spineflower (Chorizanthe breweri) ablaze with visiting butterflies and bumblebees.

The rare plant work of CNPS is just one facet of the many skills this organization brings to bear in our diverse and burgeoning state. I, for one, find it fascinating that within the very small area of Laguna Lake Park, only one square mile, there are 12 species of plants that exist there and almost no
where else on this big, wide planet. Now that’s awesome!!

– Bill Waycott


Wild pigs vs. salt marshes

Inspired by David Keil’s fantastic workshop last meeting on the plants of the Morro Bay tidal marsh, I decided to do some exploration there, armed with his excellent identification key. I ran into a conservation issue that I did not expect to see in a salt marsh … massive damage by pigs rooting in the rushes at the edge of the pickleweed, presumably for the roots of the rushes [photo below].

I have no idea how long it will take this mess to mend itself, but it is happening on both sides of the tidal channel east of the South Bay Boulevard bridge. I did not find any damage west of the bridge, although it appears that the drought has shut down a lot of the freshwater flow coming out of the dunes onto the marsh.

On other fronts, I am happy to report that none of the many projects known to be in the works has come ripe for CNPS action this month. The county citizenry has been sufficiently scared by the drought to question large new developments, and many future projects will have water
availability as a prime consideration. Water is not a concern, apparently, in the Atascadero area when the County Supervisors downgraded the Level of Severity for Water Supply for the Atascadero Subbasin from a recommended Level III (most restrictive to development) to complete removal of any LOS designation. This might have more to do with the development of Eagle Ranch than lack of worry about Salinas River underflow to their
well field, but who knows… just seems like a strange move in this time of extreme drought. The Atascadero subbasin drains right into that most critically at-risk basin, the main LOS III Paso Robles Basin.

The conservation committee can only react to issues brought to its attention, so if you see something in your local area, let us know as we don’t follow some of the local governments very closely.

Turri salt marsh

– David Chipping

Chapter Meeting – Michael Kauffmann

Thursday, June 4, 2015, 7 p.m. at the San Luis Obispo Veterans Hall, 801 Grand Avenue, San Luis Obispo

Exploring the Conifers of the Pacific Slope

Over the past 10 years Michael Kauffmann has explored most of the mountain ranges in the West with a particular focus on the Klamath Mountains. In his explorations, he has worked to better understand the region’s ecology through the eyes of conifers—one of the Earth’s oldest lineages of plants. California, Oregon and Washington nurture one of the richest assemblage of conifers in the world and Michael’s books Conifer Country and Conifers of the Pacific Slope help define their ecology and biogeography. Join Michael for an arm-chair journey into the Klamath Mountains and beyond—where we will explore ancient plants that survive in the West’s most exhilarating landscapes.


Michael Kauffmann with a windswept foxtail pine

Michael Kauffmann has a MA in Biology from Humboldt State University and is an educator at the elementary through college level. He has written three books, including co-authoring the just-released Field Guide to Manzanitas. He has lives in Kneeland, California with his wife Allison and son Sylas and in his free time enjoys backpacking, photography and plant exploring. Michael’s books will be available at the talk.

The next Chapter meeting is the October “Dessert Potluck,” Thursday, October 1, 2015. Bring a dessert and photos and videos of your summer travels to share.

Call to Horticulturists

With the successful creation of the rare-plant working group during the past few months, I would like to suggest our chapter broaden its horizons a bit more by assembling a horticulture working group. I bring this point up because CNPS is one of a very few organizations that can speak from expertise and confidence about how to successfully manage a landscape during an extended water crisis. Most of us are willing to admit now, Californians must move away from growing exotic, over-irrigated lawns and gardens, and embrace the fact that low water, sustainable landscapes are the only viable alternative.

We have already seen this transition towards low-water plantings in our neighborhoods. California gardens are on the move! We all know our local green spaces and environs can become more ecology-friendly when local native plants are placed in and around our homes and cities.

With this commitment by our local chapter to support the transition to native plants, we can utilize the abundant resources available in this area. These include those who garden with natives already, those who raise and sell natives to the public, those who work in environmental management and habitat restoration, as well as those studying botany, ornamental horticulture, and landscape architecture at local colleges.

Thus, I am asking anyone with a knack for gardening and/or serious landscape experience to contact me by e-mail. With a dozen or so volunteers, we can put together a strong working group. Then branch out to communities in our area by extending a hand of support and guidance.

– Bill Waycott

Chapter Meeting – Connie Rutherford

Chapter Meeting – Connie Rutherford

Title: Chapter Meeting – Connie Rutherford
Location: San Luis Obispo Veterans Hall, 801 Grand Avenue, SLO
Description: Thursday, May 7, 2015, 7 p.m. at the San Luis Obispo Veterans Hall, 801 Grand Avenue, SLO
Does the Endangered Species Act Help Recover Listed Plant Species? The federal ESA is one of our premier environmental laws, but are our plants any better off? Using examples of listed plant species from the central coast counties, Connie will talk about some of the progress that has been made, as well as the setbacks that have been encountered along the way, in furthering conservation and recovery efforts.
Connie Rutherford is Listing and Recovery Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Ventura-based office. She is an alumna of UC Santa Cruz and Humboldt State University, and spent several adventurous years in the field in Alaska, the Pacific northwest, Haiti, and the Mojave Desert before settling down in Ventura to a real job and family life. Early in her career, she worked to put a lot of plant species ON the list of endangered species; now she works to get them OFF.
Pre-Meeting Workshop: At 6:15 p.m. Dave Keil will lead a workshop on identification of salt marsh plants before the meeting.
Start Time: 19:00
Date: 2015-05-07