Newsletter 2009 January/February

California Native Plant Society

Orange County Chapter

January/February 2009


Conservation Conference…………………………… 1

Chapter Meetings…………………………………….. 1

President’s Message…………………………………. 2

Nature Writings……………………………………….. 3

Conservation Report…………………………………. 3

Field Trips 2009……………………………………….. 4

Announcements……………………………………….. 5

Gardening with Natives Symposium

Travels with Joanie…………………………………… 6

15-minute Photography………………………………. 7

Crossword Puzzle…………………………………….. 7

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Jan 8– Board Meeting
Jan 15– Chapter Meeting
Jan 17 – 21– CNPS Conservation Conf
Jan 24– Photo Workshop
Jan31–Photo Workshop
Feb 5– Board Meeting
Feb 19– Chapter Meeting
Mar 1–Starr Ranch Field Trip
Mar 8–DOLC Field Trip
Mar 14–Tin Mine Field Trip

Weed and Seed:

Location, Time, Contact

UCI Arboretum; Thursdays 10-1; Celia Kutcher, 949-496-9689

Golden West College; Tuesday & Thursday, 10 – 1; Dan Songster, 949-768-0431

Fullerton Arboretum; any day, 8:30-12; Chris Barnhill

Irvine Open Space;

Bolsa Chica; 3rd Saturday; 714-846-1114

Upper Newport Back Bay; 4th Saturday; contact Matt Yurko murko@coastal

Orange County River Park; Tuesdays 10 – 1; call 714-393-3976


Directions to the Duck Club:

Driving south on the 405, exit on Jamboree and turn right. Turn left on Michelson, the first signal. Stay on Michelson. At the 3rd signal turn right onto Riparian View. Pass the IRWD water treatment plant. Follow signs to Audubon House and the Duck Club.

Driving north on the 405, exit on Culver and turn left. At the second signal, which is Michelson, turn right. Continue on Michelson to the third signal, Riparian View, turn left toward the IRWD treatment plant and follow signs to The Duck Club. [Thomas Guide to Orange County, page 859 J-7]


2009 Conservation Conference: Strategies and Solutions

January 17 – 21, 2009, Sacramento

For information, go to



Thursday, January 15—From the Islands to the Deserts; a Little Botanic Garden Fun

Speaker: Chris Barnhill

Have you ever wondered what it is like to build a botanic garden from scratch? How about two? The Arboretum at Cal State Fullerton is lucky to have recently added two creative and fascinating gardens: An Island Garden and a Mohave Desert garden. The Island Garden is 4 years old now and a creative masterpiece with huge boulders, scree, and imaginative plant placement throughout. The Mohave Garden is the newest baby, complete with more giant rocks and a lovely desert wash soon to be bursting with wildflowers.

Giant machines, delicate plants and Chris hanging from a 70 foot crane—what great reasons to join us for this fun evening of botanic garden intrigue! Kick off the new year right as Chris Barnhill, the chief instigator of these gardens, talks about the ideas behind the gardens, development and construction hurdles, and of course the native plants found in these two very different spaces.

Chris Barnhill has worked in botanic gardens in humid Pennsylvania, chilly Colorado and sunny California. His photographs have appeared in numerous plant journals from Fine Gardening to Haseltonia and in two books on the wild world of South African succulents. He is presently the Curator of Living Collections at the Fullerton Arboretum.

[Note: Our April 16 meeting will be held at the Fullerton Arboretum, providing an opportunity to visit the above-described gardens. The Ed.]


Thursday, February 19—The Dana Point Headlands—Past and Present

Speaker: Fred Roberts

The Dana Point Headlands is a coastal promontory in southern Orange County. Considering its isolation and size, it has a remarkable diversity of rare plants as well as many other interesting plants associated with coastal bluff scrub and heavy clay soils. Among its most famous are Blochmann’s dudleya (Dudleya blochmaniae), cliff spurge (Euphorbia misera), Nuttall’s scrub oak (Quercus dumosa), and Coulter’s saltbush (Atriplex coulteri). Recently, aphanisma (Aphanisma blitoides) and seaside calandrinia (Calandrinia maritima) were added to the list. The former is cryptic and very rare on the mainland. The latter had been known from Orange Co. only from an old 1932 Laguna Beach record. The Headlands is also one of the few places were the Pacific pocket mouse can be found and it supports a small but remarkably determined group of California gnatcatchers.

The Dana Point Headlands marked one of the opening stages in the chapter’s long conservation history with a letter to the County of Orange, dated May 1983. Since that time the area has been proposed for various developments and sought after as a prize for conservation and our chapter was in the thick of it. The US Fish and Wildlife Service and CDFG virtually wrote it off in their NCCP/HCP. However a decision by the California Coastal Commission in 2005 resulted in substantial conservation. Even then, there were still rumors that this coastal jewel had perished in the process. This is not the case.

Today, the City of Dana Point manages the hill top section of the Headlands while the Center for Natural Lands Management manages the bluffs and cliffs. Fred Roberts, our speaker, conducted extensive surveys on the CNLM portion in 2008 and will share his experiences and photos about the CNLM Dana Point Preserve. He will also share his knowledge of the Dana Point Headlands, past and present.



President’s Message – “Green” Energy Meets the California Desert

On December 6, 2008, I was privileged to represent the chapter at the CNPS Chapter Council meeting at Mills College in Oakland. One of the presentations at the meeting was an eye-opening look at the potential impacts of green energy proposals on the desert, presented by Nick Jensen, Rare Plant Botanist for CNPS.

Major solar energy projects in western US deserts are close to fruition. A patchwork of 79 projects representing 679,790 acres or 1,052 square miles are permitted or are near to it in California. Most projects are on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, representing approximately 5% of BLM land in California. Up to 500,000 additional acres are rumored to be under consideration for renewable developnment. In the western US, up to 6 million acres of wind and solar energy projects are being proposed.

The construction of solar panel complexes in the desert is quite destructive to the environment. Plants and animals are wiped away, and little habitat remains after installation. In addition to the footprint of the project, roads and transmission lines directly impact intact habitat, are unsightly, create habitat fragmentation, promote the spread of invasive plants, and cause other indirect impacts.

The demand for energy, and the desire to wean the country from oil dependence, for national security and serious climate change and other environmental considerations, is real and not going away. The permitting process at the federal and state levels is being considerably streamlined because of these concerns. Some major environmental groups have already supported the rush to solar. Now the economic crisis adds another impetus to expand worthy public works projects and create jobs.

But we shouldn’t delude ourselves that “green” solar and wind projects have no negative impact on our deserts. We know that the public is largely unaware of the treasures in the native plant communities in their own backyards. It’s even more difficult to care about the more remote and “barren” deserts.

When is it acceptable to eliminate pristine habitat and rare native plants? Is it for national security, such as the irreplaceable canyons and mesas at the US/Mexico border that have already been filled and scraped, eliminating the last native stand of Agave shawii? Is it for oil and gas development? Is it for housing? Is it for solar and wind projects? The complexities are enormous, and trade-offs are inevitable, but we should learn the facts, speak for the plants and animals, and seek to minimize the environmental damage as much as possible.

Nick’s constructive suggestions:

  • Focus on energy conservation, where great strides can still make a huge difference in our energy demands.
  • Consider alternative sites, such as rooftops, abandoned urban sites, degraded agricultural land, etc.
  • A full analysis of impacts should be required, so that we know what we’re losing and can mitigate appropriately.
  • Consider grouping smaller projects into a larger more concentrated area, hopefully one with less biodiversity, which will require fewer transmission lines and roads.
  • Design measures that could leave some valuable habitat, even if fragmented.

Let me know what you think, and I will pass your feedback on to CNPS staff and officials as policy is developed at the state level.

Laura Camp



musings from the mountain, fall 2008


i opened the front door

to be greeted by

hovering dragon fly

song of thrasher &

bloom of senesio

brilliant yellow &

puff ball of seed heads

time to move the water again

a long hot dry summer coming to a close

jeffrey pine with brown needles

pinyon pine less than its usual blue-gray

it’s been a nostalgic morning

sitting close to window

bare piggy toes

still cold

i know too well my flip-flop days

are numbered

i’ve labored hard

at times

too hard

tiredness crept into my bones

i’m slow to get started today

my body says rest

you must

you can labor another day

when rested

today is an unlabored labor day


earned it

the chicadee drinks & bathes

outside my window

the sun’s warmth soaks in

i recall our old cat

the jay scolds &

now all is


so very quiet

save the tick of the clock on

this unlabored day


a silver streak of sunlight

pierced the forest floor

dark & gloomy all around

shivery damp

cold ground

snow barely gone

a silver streak of sunlight

warmed my soul

chuck wright

Please send your three-line glimpses, Poemsis trilineata, (or your longer works) to Visit. Thea’s website at



GENERAL: The Winter 2008 issue of Outdoors in Orange County, newsletter of the Friends of Harbors, Beaches & Parks (FHBP), discusses the tools by which OC open space/natural lands have been and are being preserved. FHBP’s Green Vision Project focuses on bringing together the negotiations, funding sources, and other methods—some typical, some unique—that are needed to protect land. The newsletter covers several case histories in OC—some hard-fought by the enviro community to stave off proposed development. All are great conclusions to years of activism and advocacy. The newsletter also covers several lands that are still being hard-fought for. ACTION NOW: Support FHBP projects by sending a donation to P.O. Box 9256, Newport Beach CA 92658.

SAN MATEO WATERSHED: The Donna O’Neill Land Conservancy’s (DOLC) 1165 acres encompass most of the western slope of the Cristianitos Creek watershed, one of the San Mateo watershed’s main sub-basins. OCCNPS has a long history with DOLC. We were among the persistent advocates of preservation prior to DOLC’s setup in 1991, bringing its pristine environment, and that of the whole San Mateo watershed, into public awareness and making it part of the several years of public discussion prior to 1991.

Since then, we’ve continued to advocate for the San Mateo’s integrity throughout the years and the tangle of other issues relating to the watershed. Chief among these is the 241 toll road “Preferred Route,” which runs lengthwise through DOLC. RMV has stated that it supports that route, but can do its 14,000-unit development without it.

DOLC was set up under an agreement between Rancho Mission Viejo (RMV), which owns DOLC’s land, the OC Board of Supervisors and the City of San Clemente. Now RMV wishes to dissolve DOLC and absorb it into the new 32,818-acre, privately-owned, RMV Reserve. RMV has received the Supervisors’ approval for the dissolution.

The San Clemente City Council voted 5-0 against approving the dissolution, in response to 21 speakers advocating against it. The public’s concerns were mainly that there would be no provision for direct public input or comment on what happens in the Reserve. Public input would be indirect, through the Fish and Wildlife Service and other public agencies that are party to the mitigation agreements that direct the Reserve’s conservation purposes.

The City Council chose to “slow down the process” and engage in dialogue with RMV about the issues raised by the public. In addition, a Friends of the Conservancy group has formed to shape a plan that will be good for the DOLC lands and include provision for direct public input. The plan will be brought to the City Council in February.

Celia Kutcher, Conservation Chair

[As always, you may contact Celia at if you have questions or would like to become actively involved.]




Co-chairs: Joan Hampton and Richard Schilk

Sunday, February 8, 2009, 9 a.m. to mid afternoon
Whitewater Canyon Preserve
San Bernardino Mountains, near Palm Springs, CA


Sunday, March 1, 8:30 am to Noon

Starr Ranch

Leader: Dick Newell

Come enjoy the coastal sage scrub, chaparral, oak woodland and riparian habitats that characterize the Audubon’s 4,000-acre Starr Ranch Sanctuary. Wildlife species include lizards, canyon tree frogs, red-shouldered hawks and mountain lions.

Downloadable checklists for mammals, birds, fishes, amphibians, reptiles and of course flora are available on the ranch’s website,, and clicking the “Checklists” tab, upper right.

You may wish to bring a light lunch. We usually sit around after this hike to contemplate the beauty and peacefulness of the canyon. To learn more about local plants and their relationship with the animals that use them for food and cover, check out

Directions from north county: I-5 to Alicia exit, left on Alicia, right on Santa Margarita Parkway then…

Directions from south county: I-5 to Ortega Highway (SR 74) exit. Turn right on SR 74, left on Antonio Parkway, right on Santa Margarita parkway, then…

North and south county: …turn right on Plano Trabuco Road (at the end of Santa Margarita) then left on Dove Canyon Drive to the Dove Canyon Security Gate (visitor’s entrance).Tell the security guard you’re going to Starr Ranch for the CNPS hike. Stay on Dove Canyon Drive, down the hill, up the hill, then to the left on Grey Rock Road. Take the second right on the sanctuary’s access road—just before their three white mailboxes. Stay on their main single lane road. Continue past the sanctuary office and proceed across a wooden bridge to the parking area by the wooden fence. Email Rich Schilk, for a PDF file with directions and a map.


Sunday, March 8

Donna O’Neill Land Conservancy

Leader: Lois Taylor

This 1,200 acre wilderness reserve, created in 1990, includes oak woodlands, coastal sage scrub and native grasslands. It is only open to the public for docent led hikes. We will walk on a loop trail that is mostly on level terrain with a few gentle inclines. Pre-registration is mandatory; email Rich Schilk, to sign up and get directions.

[Details for the rest of the field trips will appear in future newsletters.]


Saturday, March 14

Tin Mine

Leader: Joel Robinson

This hidden gem is located at the northeastern end of the Santa Ana Mountains, behind Black Star Canyon, where desert and coastal annuals collide. It is hard to believe that such a vast canyon is just minutes from downtown Corona. Highlights include rocky outcrops, evergreen slopes of chaparral, actual mine tunnels, a shady woodland full of bay trees, ferns, and grape, and a spring-fed creek.


Sunday, March 22

Cucamonga Canyon

Leaders: Liana Argento, Elizabeth Pomeroy, Bob Muns

We will join the Natural Science Section for a slow paced 3-4 hour plant walk to identify plants and learn about the unique geology and geography of this area.

Sunday, March 29

Upper Santiago Canyon

Leader: Joel Robinson

Santiago Creek begins here, upstream from Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary. It is one of the most isolated wilderness areas in the Santa Ana Mountains. It burned in the fire of 2007, but has experienced a rapid rate of regrowth in the creek bed since then. See annuals, such as Fremont Death Camas, that look like they are on steroids. Find evidence of old mining operations. There are chances of seeing a diversity of snake species, including ringnecks and kingsnakes.

Saturday, April 4

Plant And Insect Communities Of Orange County—an Irvine Ranch Conservancy auto trip

Leader: Jutta Burger

Coastal southern California is home to an extremely rich array of plant species. It hosts an even greater array of insects and arachnids that provide food, promote nutrient cycling, and pollinate the plants that we see. Join us for a botanical and entomological tour of the Irvine Ranch wildlands through the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains, where we will hunt for both our plant and arthropod friends. We will be traveling by touring truck (IRC vehicles only) and hiking on foot to get both an overview and a detailed look at plants and animals. The habitats covered will include oak woodland, coastal sage scrub, chaparral, and needlegrass grassland. IRC field ecologists will go over key insects and plants and will assist with identification of the major wildflower species.

Email Rich Schilk,, for mandatory pre-registration. Numbers are limited.

Sunday, April 19

Barrett-Stoddard Rd., San Antonio Canyon, San Gabriel Mountains

Leaders: Liana Argento, Michael Hecht, Bob Muns

We will join the Natural Science Section for a slow paced 3-4 hour plant walk to identify wildflowers and learn about plant uses.

Sunday, May 31

Monrovia Canyon Wilderness Park

Leaders: Liana Argento, Elizabeth Pomeroy, Bob Muns

We will join the Natural Science Section for a slow paced 3-4 hour plant walk to identify wildflowers and learn about plants

Saturday, June 6

Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail, San Jacinto Mountains

Leader: Tom Chester

This is a beautiful and very popular trail through the canyon live oak; incense-cedar; black and interior live oak; sugar, ponderosa and coulter pine forest just above Idyllwild. The trail almost immediately crosses a beautiful creek with thimbleberry, mountain pink currant, and western azalea. The trail is completely shaded for ~80% of its length, with forest treasures such as Parish’s burning bush, pinedrops, little prince’s pine, and San Jacinto buckwheat popping up here and there. Forest openings have delights such as pink-bracted manzanita, plain mariposa lily, mountain grape-soda lupine, southern mountain woolly-star, whisker-brush, diamond-petaled clarkia, and clustered broom-rape.

Sunday, June 28

Evey Canyon, San Gabriel Mountains

Leaders: Liana Argento, Michael Hecht, Bob Muns

We will join the Natural Science Section for a slow paced 3-4 hour plant walk to identify plants and learn about fire ecology in a fire-recovered canyon.

August or September

Bolsa Chica: Drowning in Salt

Leader: Trude Hurd

Salt. Pickles. Floating nest. Endangered species. Halophytes.

What do these have in common? Bolsa Chica Wetlands! Marine biologist Trude Hurd returns to our CNPS field trip lineup to share with you the ecology of the salt-tolerant plants of this popular Orange County coastal wetland. We will examine common plants and algae, their important role in the wetland ecosystem, and animals that depend upon them. There will be time for discovery, sketching, and sharing with friends.



Mark your Calendars!

The 1st annual Growing Native Symposium is slated for March 28, 2009

Expert speakers will discuss practical issues regarding choosing, designing, growing, and maintaining natives in the garden. This one-day conference is designed to help homeowners and landscapers become more familiar and comfortable using natives in residential or small commercial landscapes. All levels of native plant enthusiasts will benefit.

The day will include lunch in the adjacent GWC California Native Garden and an afternoon tour of the garden highlighting design and maintenance aspects.

Speakers: Bart O’Brien-Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
Debbie Evans-Tree of Life Nursery
Dan Songster, Golden West College Native Garden
…and more!

Where: Golden West College

When: March 28, 2009

Cost: $35 for CNPS or GWC Native Garden Friends and $45 for non-members/friends.

Co-Sponsored by the Orange County Chapter of CNPS and the GWC Native Garden

Questions? Contact Dan Songster: email or call 949/768-0431


The Casa Romantica 2008-2009 Lecture Series:

Saving the Critically Endangered Pacific Pocket Mouse

January 14, 7:00 PM

Speaker: Dr. Debra Shier

At Casa Pacific in San Clemente, guests will have the opportunity to hear one of the San Diego Zoo’s top research specialists, Dr Debra Shier Ph.D., speak on the critically endangered Pacific pocket mouse and the importance of saving this diminutive mammal.

Measuring no more than 5.2 inches from its nose to the tip of its tail, weighing only about a third of an ounce, and historically inhabiting inland coastal areas from Marina del Rey and El Segundo south to the Mexican border, the critically imperiled Pacific pocket mouse was feared extinct for nearly 20 years before the species was rediscovered in 1993. Although the Pacific pocket mouse became fully protected under the Endangered Species Act in 1994, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declined to designate any critical habitat. At this time, habitat destruction due to rapid and ongoing urban expansion, road construction, and agriculture poses the greatest threat to this dangerously imperiled mammal.

Conservation efforts are vital and in her presentation, Dr. Shier will focus on the ways in which an understanding of animal behavior and behavioral ecology can be applied to conservation strategies connected to small mammals such as the Pacific Pocket. Dr. Shier’s research focuses practices that encourage settlement, reduce stress, and increase survival and reproductive success following the reintroduction and translocation of small mammals.

Tickets: General Admission, $7, Casa Romantica Members: $6

For reservations, please call 949.498.2139 ext. 10. Depending on availability, some tickets may be purchased at the door.


Replace your Lawn with California Native Plants Workshop Series at Tree of Life Nursery

February 14, Replace Your Lawn Step One:

Get rid of it! (Kill your grass

February 21, Replace your Lawn Step Two:

Develop the Design, featuring guest speaker, Landscape Designer Orchid Black.

February 28, Replace Your Lawn Step Three:

Choose the Plants: Consider Thirty Native Plants.

In fall of 2008, we held two sessions of our three-part “Replace Your Lawn” Workshops at Tree of Life Nursery. You can now download the helpful handout from our first session.

Go to for more information.


Climate Change & California Desert Conference

Please join the National Parks Conservation Association, Defenders of Wildlife, and Joshua Tree National Park for the annual Climate Change & California Desert Conference Friday,

February 27, 2009, 9 AM-5 PM at the Joshua Tree Community Center in Joshua Tree, California.


Nobel Laureate Jean Brennan (Defenders of Wildlife) on the impacts of climate change on desert wildlife, management strategies and wildlife corridors.

Kirsten Ironside (Northern Arizona University) on the declining range of Joshua Trees.

Lynn Fenstermaker (Desert Research Institute) on the capacity of arid lands to store carbon.

Bill Powers (Engineer) on the Sunrise Power Link, Green Path North and the local generation of energy.

AWorld Café Conversation engaging all participants to talk about challenges and opportunities related to climate change.

The conference is free of charge, but we ask that you RSVP to

Seth Shteir, Program Coordinator for Air and Climate
California Desert Office
National Parks Conservation Association or 760-366-7785

Jepson Herbarium Weekend Workshops

While many of the Jepson Herbarium workshops are held in Berkeley, a number of the interesting three-day sessions take place in field locations throughout the state. Mid-elevation Flora of the White Mountains, June 11 – 14 is very tempting as is Alpine and Subalpine Flora of Yosemite National Park at Tuolumne Meadows Campground July 30 – August 2. And there are more! To see the whole list and get the most current information about the workshops, go to Members save lots on registration fees.


Golden West College Native Garden

Spend a few hours each week on a Tuesday or Thursday morning, helping to tend the beautiful native plant garden at Golden West College. Contact Dan Songster at work by email, or at home in the afternoon/evenings by phone; 949-768-0431.


Invasive Weed Removal?

There’s still time to join this group! Are you interested in helping to monitor and control invasive wildland weeds? Can you and friends volunteer four mornings per year (likely on the weekends) at an Orange County park? Hand-pulling of younger weeds would be the most likely focus, with light labor required. Caspers Regional Park is the most likely starting place. if you would like to participate in this worthy effort contact Laura Camp at


Laguna Coast Wilderness Nursery Schedule:

Contact Robert Lawson, Volunteer Nursery Manager, to find out what’s happening and when at the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park Nursery.

Nursery Link:


Travels with Joanie:

My Field Trip to the Los Angeles Central Library

The Richard J. Riordan Central Library is located in the city’s Bunker Hill district, which was not named for its prairie-like topography. Directly across the street are the Bunker Hill steps, an excellent workout source for human hamsters in search of an exercise wheel. For those of us who are of the Couch Potato persuasion, the steps are paralleled by the Bunker Hill escalator. (In fact these highly practical devices ought to be installed in San Gabriel Mountain parks, and on steeper trails around Orange County.)

Escalators are also much in evidence at the library, a wonder in itself, with respect to its art and architecture. Its collection of six million books and other holdings makes it the third largest public library in the United States.

The original structure—with its escalators—is four stories tall, the height limit at the time it was built. It suffered serious damage from two fires in 1986. Even by that time, its massive collection had outgrown the available space. After the fires, it was closed until 1993, while undergoing renovation. The height remained at four stories, but a new, below-ground atrium wing was added. From the dramatic and whimsical sculptured chandeliers at the fourth floor level, the bright, airy atrium plunges down eight stories. Seen from the upper levels, it presents a breathtaking view, with the many ant-sized library patrons riding its banks of escalators,

Apart from its art and architecture, why should the Central Library interest you? As an Orange County resident, you are eligible for a free library card. The botany collection alone fills a bank of shelves 45 feet long and 7 shelves tall. For example, I noted a number of books on the flora of Baja California, including those of Ira Wiggins,

Even if you don’t intend to make trips into Los Angeles to borrow books, a library card is still valuable because of the access you gain to an astounding number of periodicals and other resources. Many of these can be accessed online from home, through the library’s links to a number of external databases. For example, I was not been willing to spend $25 for the issue of the Botanic Review containing Robert Thorne’s updated taxonomy. With instructions from one of the many helpful members of the library staff, I was able to access it online and download the PDF file to my home computer.

Another treasure among the many I discovered is the ability to look up definitions in the online Oxford English Dictionary, and to access other Oxford reference works as well.

Do you want to learn more about the library? Visit the official website at Browse the catalog, the photo collection or the databases. To learn more about the art and architecture, visit and view the many photographs. Another excellent site for the library and other Los Angeles landmarks is —Joan Hampton



Fifteen Minute Photography: Photo Workshops January 24 and 31!



Crossword Puzzle—12 California Trees