Reservoir Canyon and Bowden Ranch

Reservoir Canyon and Bowden Ranch

03/20/2011 Saturday, 8:30 a.m., Reservoir Canyon and Bowden Ranch

Join us for a moderate hike through the lushly wooded Reservoir Canyon located directly behind San Luis Obispo and then over the backbone ridge, ending at San Luis Obispo High School. Plants, animals, and the geology of the area will be topics during the hike. Spring wildflowers will be at their peak and this hike covers some of the best display areas around the city.

Meet at the eastern corner of the SLO High School parking lot near the corner of Johnson Avenue and San Luis Drive. A few cars will ferry the hikers to the trailhead in Reservoir Canyon. Total hike distance is five miles with an elevation gain of 1000 feet, and a total hike time of 3 hours. Once completed, drivers with cars parked at the trailhead will be driven back to retrieve their cars.

Bring adequate water, snacks, and dress in layers for the weather; a hat and sturdy shoes are advised. Rain cancels. For info, call Bill at (805) 459-2103 or


Islay Hill

Saturday, March 5, 9 a.m., Visit to Islay Hill, San Luis Obispo, led by John Doyle and Mardi Niles.

Meet at the cul-de-sac area of Sweet Bay Lane in southeast San Luis Obispo at 9:00 a.m. for a three hour walk on Islay Hill. This will be a moderate hike of 1.5 to 2.0 miles and 500 feet elevation gain.

March is an excellent time of year to see many of our blooming natives (Fragaria, Salvia, Fritillaria, Solanum, Sambucus, etc.) and perhaps some unexpected finds, including non-natives.

To reach the trailhead, travel southeast on Orcutt Road from SLO or east on Tank Farm Road until they meet. About 1/4 of a mile after the intersection turn right onto Spanish Oaks Drive then left onto Sweet Bay Lane (about 1/3 of a mile later) and go to the end.

Wear sturdy shoes, bring water and dress in layers. This walk will be held rain or shine. For more information contact either John Dolye (805) 748-7190 or Bill Waycott,, (805) 459-2103.

Burton Mesa/La Purisima

Burton Mesa Chaparral on the La Purisima Mission

Saturday, February 26,  9AM

The California Native Plant Society / 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 Boulevard in Mission Hills at 9 a.m. for a chance to see the early bloomers and interesting scenery.

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

For more information call Charlie Blair at (805) 733-3189.

March Chapter Meeting

March Chapter Meeting

The Carrizo Plains: A Wildflower Wonderland

Speakers are Dr. Dirk Walters and Dr. David Chipping, Emeritus Professors from Cal Poly

Thursday, March 3, 2011, 7 p.m.

The San Luis Obispo Chapter of the California Native Plant Society will present a slide show and lecture entitled “The Carrizo Plains: A Wildflower Wonderland” on March 3, 2011, at 7:00 p.m. in the Atascadero Association of Retired People building, 7484 Pismo Avenue,#adjacent to the Lake Pavilion, Atascadero, off Morro Road (Hwy 41).

A large selection of natural history and botanical books will be offered for sale. The lecture and slide show are free and open to the public, but arrive early as seating is limited.

Call 441-3777 for more information.

Conservation March 2011

We are still trying to force some decent mitigation built into the First Solar project in the Carrizo. We are concerned that pressure for jobs and tax income might cause local government to allow the project to go forward without securing off-site mitigation. Our main concerns lie in the southwest corner of the project, and the positioning of Arrays 8 and 9 in a recognized wildflower field. If you have seen the spring flower displays on the north side of Belmont Trail, then you know what is at stake.

If you don’t know about these displays, come to our next meeting in Atascadero.

President’s Message

Those of you who missed Bob Stafford’s wonderful talk on the wildlife of the Carrizo Plain and Chimineas Ranch areas can have another chance to learn about the area at our March 3 meeting in Atascadero. Following the snafu last year when we posted insufficient information on time and place, we want to make sure you find your way to the AARP building at the rear of the Lake Pavilion in Atascadero Lake Park.

Dirk Walters and myself have developed a slide show on the wildflowers and landscapes of the area, and will start at 7:30 after the social gathering at 7:00.

After a month with no rain, I am getting worried that all the field trips planned by us and other organizations for celebration of California Native Plant Week may be too late for short-lived annuals. Right now, Montana de Oro State Park has nice displays of shooting stars and chocolate lilies along the East Boundary Trail, and trillium in Coon Creek. Snag them while you can.

I encourage you to use our Facebook page to post wildflower sightings and fast breaking news at

–David Chipping

Coreopsis Hill

Coreopsis Hill

Sunday, March 20, Hike to Coreopsis Hill 8:30-noon
Activity: Moderate to Strenuous
Distance: 3 miles round trip

Hike to Coreopsis Hill led by Jenny Langford, Lauren Brown, and Dirk Walters Hikers park and meet at the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes National Wildlife Refuge parking area on Beigle Road between 8:30 am and 9:00 am. The Beigle Road entrance is approximately 0.5 mile from the Oso Flaco Lake parking area.

The hike will begin at 9:00 am and will be a casual walk through the National Wildlife Refuge to the top of Coreopsis Hill. This is a moderate to strenuous hike, about 3 hours round-trip. Dress in layers, comfortable shoes, wear long pants, bring water and snacks, and your Dune Mothers Wildflower Guide by Dr. Malcolm McLeod for the trip.

RSVP recommended. Heavy rain cancels this trip (light rain, bring appropriate clothing).

For more information and to RSVP please call the Dunes Center at 805.343.2455
You may also call or e-mail Lauren Brown (, (805) 460-6329).

Feb Chapter Meeting

Feb Chapter Meeting

Carrizo Plain Ecological Reserve – Biodiversity, Monitoring, and Research

by Bob Stafford

The Carrizo Plain Ecological Reserve contains a wide variety of vegetative communities. This botanical variety supports an equally diverse faunal assemblage which will be explored during this presentation. We will also look at past, present, and future wildlife research projects and how all of this information will be used to direct the future management direction of the ecological reserve.

Bob Stafford has worked as an associate wildlife biologist for the California Department of Fish and Game for over 19 years and he has worked in the San Luis Obispo county unit for the past 13 years. He has extensive experience working with the endangered vertebrates of the San Joaquin Valley as well as large mammal species such as black bear, tule elk, and pronghorn. His current duties include developing a land management plan for the Carrizo Plain Ecological Reserve, including the Chimineas Unit.

Thursday, February 3, 2011 — Meet at the Veterans Hall, 801 Grand Avenue, San Luis Obispo, 7:00 p.m. 7 – 7:30 p.m.

Enjoy social time, refreshments and browse our book table.

The meeting  begins at 7:30 with a little time for chapter business and announcements, followed by the presentations.

Conservation Feb 2011

Carrizo Plain Solar Projects

Our chapter submitted comments on the Draft EIRs of both Carrizo Plain solar projects. I was invited to tour the Topaz Project, which is generally north of Highway 58 and centered around the site of the old solar panel site that was torn down years ago. Topaz is composed of low, stationary solar panels bolted to aluminum frames that can easily be removed if necessary. The entire area has been disturbed by agriculture, but there is some grassland in which native species are returning.

CNPS has argued for keeping grassland and using more of the existing ploughed ground, but there is some opposition from those that don’t want to see Williamson Act lands
converted in this way. There are some large protected areas in which scarce listed plants could be increased as part of the mitigation, and the botanic part of the DEIR is one of the best I have seen.

We agree with the developer that this is an excellent site for solar power, given the winter tule fogs in the Westlands area along I-5 that has been suggested as an alternative.The site will not have a large visual impact on the national monument.

The final EIR is out for the Sunpower Project, which will sit south of 58 and reaching to Belmont Trail. Site disturbance will be far greater than for Topaz. Visibility will be higher, impacting the vistas of Soda Lake as seen from the highway. The final EIR has finally produced some decent plant data, and it appears that the Array #8 bank of generators will have a big impact on CNPS 1B plants and significant wildflower fields. Only avoidance and appropriate grassland management will suffice to protect these resources.

The EIR also recommends off-site mitigation, but there is no such program as part of the project at this time. CNPS will argue first for avoidance, but, in the event of approval, that the offsite mitigation will take place in the flower fields immediately west of the project and north of the vernal pool area along Belmont Trail.

At the current time we see no evidence that the take of CNPS listed species can be mitigated to Class 2 (Less Than Significant), based on current project description.

North County Habitat Conservation Plan

CNPS has been asked to join an Advisory Committee on a new North County Habitat Conservation Plan, and I need information on the locations of botanic assets in the areas defined by the Paso Robles zone of influence. I have already suggested adding what is left of vernal pools around the airport, most of which have been obliterated by vineyards.

–David Chipping

President’s Message

The rain and warm weather has fuchsia flowered gooseberry, trillium and ceanothus in full flower, and now, in mid January, the accursed veldt grass is setting seed. If not global warming, it is certainly global weirding. It seems to me that we should make notes on early flowering when we see it as it could be useful in global warming studies.

North County members will be happy to know that we will be having our March 3 meeting at the Atascadero Association of Retired People (AARP) Hall, which is right across the parking lot for the Lake Pavilion at Atascadero Lake. We are planning a great show on the flowers and landscapes of the Carrizo Plain and east County.

A reminder that April will include Native Plant Week, and we are getting quite a few organizations signing up to do something special during the week. Spread the word and feed me contacts.
— David Chipping


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