Conservation Nov 2010

Carrizo Plain Solar Projects

We’re closely watching the Carrizo Plain Sunpower solar array that is currently in the Draft EIR stage. There is a large population of Layia munzii of over a million plants that will be impacted by Solar Array #8, which is at the southwest corner of the project adjacent to Belmont Trail. Other impacted CNPS 1B species are Layia heterotricha, Delphinium recurvatum, and Lasthenia ferrisiae.

The DEIR leans heavily on off-site mitigation, with specific mention of retirement of development in some lots within the California Valley subdivision. My one conversation with a Sunpower representative showed very little enthusiasm of land purchases outside of the project. You can read the biological portion of the DEIR at http://www.sloplanning.org/EIRs/CaliforniaValleySolarRanch/deir/c06_biology.pdf (note: The planning organization has changed their website and I could not find the document. Here is a link to the current page concerning SunPower. -Judi 5/2011)

CNPS finds itself in a difficult position on the numerous solar projects being fast-tracked throughout the deserts of California. We need to reduce fossil fuel use, but not at the expense of imperiling desert species such as tortoise. Impacts to plants are essentially being ignored, given that ‘mitigation’ for the more ‘charismatic’ tortoise has meant moving them into other areas where mortality has been extremely high.
There is no doubt that we can have some solar in the Carrizo Plain, but it must have a footprint much more considerate of our rare plants.! ! ! !

— David Chipping

President’s Message

I want to thank all of the photographers and dessert creators who made out first meeting so successful. There were so many contributions that I think we will have to slightly trim the time allocated per presentation next year, but that is hard when so many of the photographs could have been on national magazine covers.

While most pictures were of interesting and beautiful subjects, there were a couple of4 talks with some solid scientific content, and one, from John Chesnut, showed very real evidence of climate change as desert sagebrush was replaced by hightemperature desert scrubs over the span of a quarter century. This emphasized the dual nature of CNPS as a plant-appreciation group on the one hand, and a science-based conservation organization on the other. You don’t have to have a botany degree to do good plant science, and I am going to suggest that any of you who would like to be involved in scientific data collection, monitoring, photo-surveys, horticultural suitability experiments and the like contact the
appropriate program within our chapter.

As noted in the last newsletter, the third week in April has been designated as Native Plant Week in a California Joint Assembly Resolution. CNPS wants this to be celebrated throughout the county, and this should involve other conservation, horticultural, and natural history-related organizations. If any of you have any special relationships with such an organization, let me know.

We are going to need the usual help at the Plant Sale, but also could use some unusual jobs like sign-wavers to stand on the side of LOVR. If anybody wants to dress up like a daisy or something and dance around, we will welcome them. We have no shame when propagating the use of native plants.!

— David Chipping

Conservation Oct 2010

I have just returned from a CNPS meeting where the protection of CNPS List 2 species was discussed. If you are not familiar with the CNPS Inventory of Rare & Endangered Plants, it has become the accepted authority on the status of plants, and is addressed in environmental assessment of projects. List 1A plants are considered extinct, List 1B plants are rare, threatened, or endangered in California and elsewhere , and List 2 plants are rare, threatened, or endangered in California, but more common elsewhere. For more information, see CNPS Ranking System.

The CNPS argument for protecting List 2 plants is that our populations are by definition at the edge of the range for the plant, or even a distant outlier of the plant. This would frequently involve some genetic adaption to the habitat that would otherwise be marginal to a species, and for that reason may hold the keys to the long-term survival of the species in a changed environment. Thus heat-adapted species might fare better in a warmer world. Variety is indeed the spice of life.

CNPS maintains a searchable web site of the Inventory, and it shows that San Luis Obispo County only has five List 2 plants. This is in spite of the fact that we have the westernmost extensions of Mojave Desert species, the most southerly extensions of northern Coast Range plants, and the most northerly extensions of many southern plants such as our much admired Coreopsis gigantea from the Oso Flaco Lake area.

This indicates that the rationale justifying List 2 should be applied within California, so that plants that are rare in SLO but common elsewhere should be given some sort of protection, as the same edge-of-range values would apply. The value of locally rare species is inconsistently applied, is not recognized in either State or Federal Endangered Species Acts, but is recognized under the California Environmental Quality Act.

Our chapter will be assessing all of the “edge-of-range” and “outlier” species with the aim of getting better protection at the County and City planning level.

Please contribute your knowledge to this effort.

— David Chipping

President’s Message

Welcome back to another nine months of Chapter programs, field trips, garden visits and other fun activities for you and your family.

Our first meeting is the dessert potluck and contributory slide show, and we welcome any and all OOOOH-AAAH pictures. Linda and I will bring in some grizzly bears and other
Alaskan goodies.

This year will have changes. We are working on a much improved web site, a Facebook presence and other new fangled stuff. We are debating changes in the newsletter, and those of you with e-mail will receive messages from us regarding use of that medium in receiving a full color PDF version of our newsletter.

Our plant sale will be at the same time (November 6) but the location will move from the “traditional” site on Madonna Road.

Thanks to Assembly Member Evans and many coauthors that included Sam Blakeslee, Assembly Concurrent Resolution 173 has declared the 3rd week in April as California Native Plant Week. This will set the stage for a big effort by our chapter to celebrate the week and introduce as many people as possible to our wonderful native flora. Send me your ideas.

— David Chipping