Coon Creek + April Chapter Meeting

Title: Coon Creek + April Chapter Meeting
Location: Montaña de Oro State Park

Saturday, April 5, 2014, 9:00 am

Malcolm McLeod Annual Field Trip Meeting has been moved to Coon Creek at Montaña de Oro State Park, because of the drought conditions prevailing this year. This will be our monthly meeting for April.

Meet at the parking lot at the south end of Montaña de Oro State Park, at the mouth of Coon Creek.

We will walk along the creek to see several species in bloom, including many trilliums (T. angustipetalum) and observe the spring re-growth after last year’s controlled burn.

For more information call Dirk Walters, (805) 543-7051 or Bill Waycott (805) 459-2103, e-mail
Start Time: 09:00
Date: 2012-04-05

March Meeting – Sharon Lovejoy

Title: March 2014 Chapter Meeting featuring Sharon Lovejoy
Location: AARP Center, Atascadero
Description: Chapter Meeting Thursday, 7:00 p.m., March 6, 2014, AARP Center,
adjacent to the Atascadero Lake Pavilion, Atascadero.

Wild at Heart: Secrets of a Good Natured Gardener (and Garden) by Sharon Lovejoy

Discover the magic of gardening with natives and the nature they will entice into your yard.

It’s all about working hand in hand with mother nature. Author Sharon Lovejoy depends on a team of birds, bees, bugs, worms, and native plants to keep her garden healthy. Sharon will introduce you to some often overlooked and under-appreciated critters who can help transform your soil and garden into a verdant and bountiful landscape.

Sharon LovejoySharon Lovejoy is an award winning, best selling author and illustrator of ten books, including Trowel & Error: Over 700 Shortcuts, Tips and Remedies for the Gardener, A Blessing of Toads: A Gardener’s Guide to Living with Nature, and gardening classics Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots and Sunflower Houses. Her newest book is My First Bird Book and Bird Feeder.

In addition to her own books, Sharon has contributed to The Butterfly Gardener’s Guide by the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens and Growing Fruits and Vegetables Organically by Rodale Press. For 13 years, she was a contributing editor for Country Living GARDENER magazine with a regular nature and garden column named “Heart’s Ease” after the garden shop she founded in Cambria.

Among other honors, Sharon has received the National Outdoor Book Award and has been a guest on NBC’s Today, The Victory Garden on PBS, numerous programs on HGTV, and on public and regional radio and television shows from coast to coast.

Our March meeting is in Atascadero in the Atascadero Association of Retired People building adjacent to the Lake Pavilion at Atascadero Lake Park.

From 41-West turn on Pismo (immediately southwest of the zoo) to the lake. (If you are on Hwy. 41, don’t park in the main parking area as AARP is on the other side of the park. Or you can walk south along the lakeshore to the Pavilion if you wish.)

From the south, take the Santa Rosa off-ramp and go west to the lake, turning right (north) at the fork onto Marchant Way. Pismo and Marchant meet at the Pavilion and AARP building.
Start Time: 19:00
Date: 2014-03-06

Conservation – March 2014

Arroyo Grande Oil Field in Price Canyon

The big worry of the month is the scoping for the EIR on the expansion of the Arroyo Grande Oil Field in Price Canyon. Freeport McMoran Oil & Gas, formerly PXP, has submitted a Conditional Use Permit to allow for Phase V development, which would be to expand production of existing Arroyo Grande Oil Field. It includes the following elements:

  • Addition of 8 new well pads, modification of 33 existing pads and the use of other existing pads to provide for up to 450 new wells (oil, steam injection, re-injection, replacement)
  • 100 of these new wells would be ‘replacement’ wells
  • Installation of additional production and steam lines to the new wells
  • Expansion of existing electrical power system
  • Replacement of one existing pipe bridge over Pismo Creek

This expansion is expected to increase daily oil production from the currently approved 5,000 barrels to 10,000 barrels. No hydraulic fracturing is proposed. Completion of previously approved Phase IV development is ongoing, and there is no public information on the degree to which required mitigation to that and earlier phases of the project has been successful or will be undone by the current project.

Arroyo Grande Oil Field Impact

The project will destroy up to 1,650 oaks, perhaps far more if CDF fire buffers were not included as part of the project.

CNPS believes replacement habitat for destroyed oaks must be ensured. Such habitat will be difficult to find, and full ecosystem mitigation will be impossible as county mitigation can be a pathetic four tiny oaks for every mature oak.

It appears over an acre of the Federally Endangered, California Rare, Pismo Clarkia will be destroyed, as well as the List 1B San Luis Obispo lupine (our chapter emblem), Santa Margarita manzanita, Brewer’s spineflower, and also a strong possibility of impacting Indian Knob mountain balm, black flowered figwort, mesa horkelia, and San Luis mariposa lily. That is more 1B species in a single project that I have ever seen. The cumulative impacts of Phase V on each of these plants must be viewed in the light of the previous damage from earlier phases.

– David Chipping


President’s Message – March 2014

California is in Drought

Last month I voiced concern about the drought. Since that time we have only a tiny rain, and we are seeing real consequences. Of great concern in the fate of the Morro manzanita populations in Montana de Oro State Park. Those opposite the entrance to the sandspit parking lot are extremely stressed, and so are populations along the Bloody Nose Trail. Increased mortality of Monterey pine is being observed in Cambria. If this continues there is a very real possibility of local extirpation, and another completely dry year could snuff the species. I am holding out hope for a “pineapple express” to hit us, but we are running out of time.

Drought-resistant Plants

As there is a significant chance that March will not produce much rain, we need to think seriously about sustaining native plant gardens. Our horticultural experts will be developing lists of the least-water-demanding plants and what they look like, and we are hoping that members will provide some information on their most successful drought resistant plantings. Las Pilitas Nursery has some excellent web-based information.

Drought Tactics in the Home

As local water supplies are in jeopardy, we also must learn how to harvest grey water from laundry and bathroom and use it effectively in deep watering shrubs. My shower tool kit is a plastic (no scratch) dust pan and rectangular plastic wastebasket for scooping water from the floor of the plugged shower, which I then pour into buckets. Having several half filled buckets is easier to carry into the yard that filled buckets. Mold a basin around the base of the plant to be watered to enable deep watering.

– David Chipping

Vernal Pool with Downingia

Vernal Pool with Downingia

Vernal Pools occur where there is moderate to large sized “natural” depression with no outlet. The depression has to be large enough to capture enough rainfall to fill the pond to some depth. The water collects in the lowest point in the depression. There also must be an impervious layer under the pond that prevents the water from seeping deep into the soil. This impervious layer is usually a layer of calcium carbonate that forms where water seeping downward due to gravity is balanced by pull upward caused by evaporation. True vernal pools are a desert or semi-desert phenomenon. I suspect it goes without saying that not all temporary pools are vernal pools. For example, in San Simeon State Park there are extensive interlocking shallow pools surrounding small hillocks that are filled up by winter rains and are gone by summer. These are formed by animals that dig out the depressions and pile up the excavated dirt to form the mounds. This allows the animals a drier den during the rainy season. Back East, where it rains or snows most of the year, you will find temporary ponds that will last from many months. These are colonized by ordinary species more or less identical to those that inhabit the forest around them. Vernal pools will only last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on their size and the amount of rainfall.

For the second Obispoensis of this year, we are doing a repeat of a drawing Bonnie did for the banquet cover back in 1993. We’re repeating this particular drawing because of the drought and in the hope that it will serve as sign that we really, really need rain! It was originally done in honor of Dr. Wayne Ferren’s (then Curator of the Herbarium at U.C. Santa Barbara) program entitled “Creation and Restoration of Vernal Pools at Del Sur Reserve near Isla Vista, California.” The vernal pool in Bonnie’s drawing is one that occurs off the road to leading to Cerro Noroeste from California State Highway 166. It is on a shelf in the otherwise steep slopes of that mountain’s foothills. This particular pool is a favorite stop for CNPS-SLO, especially when there has been enough rainfall to fill it.

It is when the vernal pool lasts for weeks that they become particularly interesting. For plants, vernal pools are a particular challenge. The first plants to appear are those that can stand total emersion in the water. These are aquatic plants that usually live totally submerged in the water. Because the water is going to last for a very short time, these aquatic plants must have an accelerated life cycle to get from germination to fruiting. As the pool begins to dry up, plants that can tolerate saturated soils begin to germinate in a ring just inside and upslope from the water’s edge. Again these plants have a difficult environment. They begin life with too much water and end up high and dry as the pool constricts away from them. The end result of this process is a series of bands produced by various species that get their start under different soil water conditions. This banding is easily visible in Bonnie’s drawing. One genus that is particularly typical of vernal pools Downingia. It is they that form a spectacular bluish band around the pool. Bonnie included a drawing of the flower of the common Downingia species found in this particular pond. It is Downingia cuspidata.

Bonnie’s drawing was taken from a photograph, lost many years ago, that was taken on a chapter field trip to Mount Able and Mt. Pinos. Although the person shown in the drawing is drawn much too small to be recognized, notes from the time indicate that it is Sybil McLeod who served CNPS-SLO chapter in many different ways. Yes, she was also the wife of Dr. Malcolm McLeod who was a past CNPS-SLO President, Historian, and for many years the Rare Plant Committee Chairman. To be a committee chair in this chapter usually means you do all the committee’s work.

by Dirk Walters, illustrations by Bonnie Walters | Dirk and Bonnie Walters are long-time CNPS-SLO members, contributors, and board/committee participants. In addition to his work at Cal Poly, Dirk is the current CNPS-SLO Historian.

Bird and Plant Walk with Audubon and CNPS-SLO

Field trip has been rescheduled due to rain

Please join us March 8

instead of March 1

Description: Join Audubon and the California Native Plants Society on a bird and plant walk. Saturday, March 8, 9:00 a.m., Boy Scout Camp, Lopez Lake

Expect to hike about 4 miles with a 200 foot elevation gain.

We will be looking for waterfowl, which should be plentiful and visible along the trail. If we are blessed with some decent rainfall, we may also see early spring flowers.

Meet at the Mabel French Boy Scout Camp. Directions: From Arroyo Grande, follow the signs towards Lopez Lake. After crossing the dam, but before entering Lopez Lake County Park, turn right on Hi Mountain Road and proceed 0.8 miles to the junction of Upper Lopez Canyon Road. Bear left on Canyon Road and proceed 3.6 miles to the entrance of the Boy Scout Camp, on the left (west) side of the road.

Park in the parking lot, where restrooms are available. No day use fees are charged as this area is outside of the fee area. Bring water and snacks, and dress in layers for changing weather.

Bring: A hat, sunscreen, and sturdy shoes are recommended.

Contact: For more information, call Bill at (805) 459-2103 or email Rain or the threat of rain cancels.

Title: Bird and Plant Walk with Audubon and CNPS-SLO

Start Time: 09:00

Date: 2014-03-08

La Purisima Burton Mesa Wildflower Walk

Title: La Purisima Burton Mesa Wildflower Walk
Description: CNPS and Sierra Club Spring La Purisima Burton Mesa Wildflower Walk

Sunday, April 6, 2014, 9 a.m.

Meet at the La Purisima Mission Parking Lot, corner of Purisima and Mission Gate Roads (2295 Purisima Rd. Lompoc) at 9 a.m. for this annual California Native Plant Society and Sierra Club spring tour of the beauties of the Burton Mesa Chaparral.

This is turning out to be a fair year for wildflowers, annuals as well as shrubs; Optional afternoon tour.

Sturdy shoes, lunch & liquids, camera and binoculars advised. For more information, call Charlie at 733-3189 or Connie at 735-2292

Start Time: 9:00
Date: 2014-04-06

Burton Mesa Chaparral

Title: Burton Mesa Chaparral
Location: La Purisima Mission grounds
Description: The California Native Plant Society and Lompoc Valley Botanic and Horticultural Society will hold their annual winter field trip to the Burton Mesa Chaparral on the La Purisima Mission grounds.

Meet at the east end of Burton Mesa Blvd.(1550 E) in Mission Hills at 9 a.m. for a chance to see the early bloomers and interesting scenery.

To reach Burton Mesa Blvd., go to State Route 1 north of Lompoc. At the signal where SR 1 turns down hill towards Lompoc, take Harris Grade Road north to Burton Mesa Blvd., and turn right (east).

For more information call Charlie Blair at 733-3189.

Start Time: 9:00
Date: 2014-03-01

CANCELLED: Wildflower, Native Plant Week, and Earth Day Weekend 2014

We are sorry to say this field trip has been cancelled due to poor wildflower displays

Title: Wildflower, Native Plant Week, and Earth Day Weekend
Location: Figueroa Mountain
Description: Saturday, April 12, 2014 9:00 a.m., Wildflower, Native Plant Week, and Earth Day Weekend at Figueroa Mountain.

The Santa Lucia District, Los Padres National Forest will hold one of its Wildflower Weekends on Figueroa Mountain in conjunction with the California Native Plant Society. This tour will feature a local celebration of the third California Native Plant Week (3rd week in April, the 14th – 21st this year).

Meet at 9 a.m. at the Fire Station on Figueroa Mountain Road. Turn left at the SR 154-Figueroa Mtn. Road intersection near Los Olivos, and proceed to the Fire Station parking lot. This will be a “drive and stroll” tour of this year’s display.

Sturdy shoes, lunch and liquids, and camera and binoculars recommended. Call Helen Tarbet at 925-9538 ext. 246 or Charles Blair 733-3189 for details.

Start Time: 09:00
Date: 2014-04-12

Lichen Walk

Description: Saturday, February 8, 10:00 a.m., Lichen walk, Fiscalini Ranch, Cambria.

CNPS member Al Normandin will lead a short stroll through the Cambrian pine forest looking for lichens.

Ever present yet mostly overlooked, general information about lichens’ unique characteristics and living strategies will be presented. Most of the species will be identified with easy to remember common names.

If handy, bring a magnifying glass (or binoculars, which if used backwards serves as a magnifying glass) to see individual features up close.

This is not a CNPS sponsored event.

Reservations required. Contact: or call (805) 927-2202.

Title: Lichen Walk
Location: Fiscalini Ranch, Cambria
Start Time: 10:00
Date: 2014-02-08