May 21 Speaker Series: Saving Sonoma County Endangered Plant Species

transplanting rooted Vine Hill Manzanita cuttingWe increasingly hear about species on the brink of extinction. We usually think, oh too bad, that’s happening in the Amazon or wherever, but it’s happening right here is Sonoma County. The California Native Plant Society (CNPS) and Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation are working on saving several species that are on the brink of extinction in our own backyard.

Ayla Mills, Nursery Manager for the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, has successfully propagated wild collected rare seeds. She will discuss what it takes to establish successful propagation protocols and rare plant restoration methods.

Pitkin lily(CNPS – Milo Baker Chapter) will be highlighting work in saving our local Vine Hill Manzanita, which is endangered and previously occurred only one place in the world. Its last remaining habitat has been affected by Phytophthora sp. root rot. Our work has resulted in the propagation, genetic research, and planting of the Vine Hill Manzanita to 3 new preserves in Sonoma County and 7 Botanical Gardens from Santa Cruz to Eureka.

CNPS has been stewarding the Federally endangered Pitkin lily since the 1980s. But dramatic progress has been made since funding was found to bring in the Laguna Foundation’s wetland expertise and field crew. Asa Voigt, Laguna Foundation preserve manager, will present.

Photos: (top) transplanting rooted Vine Hill Manzanita cutting, (bottom) Pitkin lily.


Ayla Mills manages the Laguna Foundation’s native plant nursery. She has been working in the native plant propagation field for over 12 years. Prior to joining the Foundation, she worked at Floral Native Nursery and managed the nursery operations at Central Coast Wilds and the Sonoma Ecology Center’s native plant nursery. In the last three years she has developed propagation protocols and carried out seed amplification projects for 4 different endangered wetlands plants in Sonoma County. She is passionate about conserving California’s native plant diversity and inspiring others to do the same.

Betty Young has been managing native plant nurseries for 40 years since graduating from UC Davis. 17 of those years were as Director of Golden Gate National Parks Restoration Nurseries and the last 10 as our CNPS chapter nursery chair. During that time, she worked on many endangered species including the listed Raven’s, Franciscan and Vine Hill manzanitas. She is the author of 2 books: The Nursery Manual: the Science and Art of Growing Plants for Habitat Restoration and Sonoma County Native Plant Gardener.

Asa Voigt, a Certified Master Naturalist, California Prescribed-Fire Burn Boss, and holding a state Qualified Applicator License has been restoring and maintaining native habitats with the Laguna Foundation since 2015. Asa’s strong background of working closely with native flora and fauna began with 7 years as a sustainable farmer along the Russian River riparian zone. Asa has extensive experience with the Laguna Foundation native plant seed amplification nursery and supervises all vernal pool restoration projects.

Milo Baker Chapter General Meetings and Speaker Series are held on the third Tuesday of each month (except for July, August, and December) at 7:30p.m. Meetings are held at the Luther Burbank Art and Garden Center, 2050 Yulupa Ave, Santa Rosa, or via Zoom.

Zoom link to this presentation: