Newsletter 2003 January – February

California Native Plant Society

Orange County Chapter Newsletter

January/February 2003



Mike Kastelz, 1955 – 2002

For many years, this newsletter concluded with: “Many thanks to member and native plant gardener Mike Kastelz for contributing to the printing….” Sadly, Mike, owner and operator of Hart Printing in Fullerton, died on November 27, 2002, of injuries suffered in a diving accident. A celebration of his life was held at Angelo & Vinci’s Restaurant in Fullerton on December 9. Clearly, his family was his pride and joy, followed closely by a love for and vast knowledge of nature. He pursued a broad range of interests and was described as “caring, giving, and unselfish—except on the basketball court.” A founding member of the Barricuda (car) Club, he wove it into a close-knit Internet family. Mike had talked about putting his garden on our 2003 tour; though he complained of not having enough time to work on it, he was eager to show off his thriving Fremontodendron. In addition to his wife and daughters, Mike leaves behind many, many friends.

Calendar of Events

Jan 9…………………….. Board Meeting

Jan 16………………… Chapter Meeting

Jan 18……………… Crystal Cove Walk

Feb 6……………………. Board Meeting

Feb 8………… SAMTF Volunteer Day

Feb 15…………….. Crystal Cove Walk

Feb 20………………… Chapter Meeting

Mar 1………. Chapter Council Meeting

Apr 5…… Spring Plant Sale at TOL

Thurs, 10-1……………. UCI arboretum

Chapter meetings are held on the third Thursday of the month at the Irvine Ranch Water District headquarters at 15600 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the meeting begins at 7:30. Wildflower posters and a wide variety of books are available at the meeting

Directions: From the Santa Ana Freeway (I 5) exit on Sand Canyon Road west. Pass Irvine Center Drive. Turn left at the next light onto Waterworks Road, then left into the IRWD parking lot. From the 405 exit east on Sand Canyon/Shady Canyon, turn right on Waterworks and left into the parking lot. Enter the building from the rear.

Chapter Meetings

Thursday, January 16—The Andy and Mark Show: Floristic Surprises in Southern California
Speakers: Andy Sanders and Mark Elvin

Have you ever wondered if that mystery plant you walked past on your last hike was at all unusual? You were pretty busy and did not stop for a specimen or even a quick photo. Perhaps it was a rare or endangered species! It is a fact that not all things in even our very populated area are known and certainly the population range may be extended by a find you make. And yes even here in busy southern California there are plants presumed extinct that have been recently rediscovered! Come to this long awaited, sure to be rewarding presentation and have all your questions about the startling possibilities surrounding us in Southern California, answered.

The adventure of looking for new and/or rare plants combines botany and serendipity, especially in the well-surveyed Southern California Floristic Province. Intrepid plant-hunters Mark Elvin and Andrew Sanders will tell us of their finds and experiences:

  • Exotic species newly established in southern California
  • Range extensions within and into southern California
  • Rediscovery of “extinct” taxa
  • Species new to science
  • What to do about it: how to collect and document your amazing find (with a field portion in the WILD country along the US/Mexico Border between Otay Mountain and Campo. See Field Trips)

Mr. Elvin is a biological consultant and Curator of the UCI Arboretum. Mr. Sanders is Curator of the Herbarium at UC Riverside.

Thursday, February 20—Trial and Error: The making of a Native Garden at Golden West College
Speaker: Dan Songster

Although this native garden in Huntington Beach is small by public garden standards it is much larger than most residential landscapes. For people interested in growing natives it is the best of both worlds: large enough to allow for a large variety of different species (trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, bulbs, grasses, etc) and small enough to show a practical side regarding spacing of plants and overall garden design. The Garden has its share of normal garden pests and soil problems as well as problems particular to natives themselves.

If you are interested in practical garden advice earned through years of experience you will enjoy this presentation showing the garden in all its phases of development and growth with an emphasis on what has worked and what has not over more than fifteen years. If you grow native plants you should not miss this program!

In addition to his duties as Head Groundsman at Golden West College, Dan Songster is the Co-Director of the Golden West College Native Garden. He is current president of the Orange County chapter of the CNPS and Chairman of the Horticultural Committee at the state level.


A New Year And A New Chapter Outlook With You In Mind

The immense spread of clouds is a glowing tangerine color and the sun is just about up. But in this present blink/wink of time everything—buildings, trees, streets, everything is tinted with that same glowing color—even me standing here. The Santa Ana winds have stopped, it rained last night, and now it’s a quiet time. A time to inhale, and to think.

Thinking back on the year that has passed is something that I do not tend to do. Thinking and planning the future is more what I do, it’s just the way I am. Still when forcing myself to consider OC-CNPS’s recent past it is absolutely true that we did accomplish many things. Of course, as a chapter of a statewide organization, whose mission is to preserve and protect our native flora through education, science, advocacy, horticulture, and land-stewardship, we have our hands full! Why is it we are so busy? Please consider the following core activities.

We feel that the wonderful array of field trips that are arranged each year are an essential step in raising the level of understanding and appreciation of our flora. Thanks to Sarah Jayne and to Steve Hampson for arranging these great and always interesting trips! The monthly speakers cover a wide variety of topics and are generally experts in their field. I arrange for the speakers [Thank you, Dan!] and once again thank them for taking the time out of their busy lives to speak to our chapter. The scholarships and grants we provide are our attempt to encourage education about natives and their unique habitats, hopefully inspiring conservation attitudes and activities. This has been a group effort but again led by Sarah, who also serves as secretary at our board meetings, taking notes, writing the minutes and setting the agenda and generally keeping us productive and organized.

This past spring we had our first native garden tour and it was a great success! Thanks to Brad Jenkins and again to Sarah Jayne. Our newsletter helps promote and coordinate our group’s many efforts, and yes, once again sincere thanks to Sarah Jayne for a newsletter that is as good as any in the state.

Our many conservation efforts have been tackled on a necessarily haphazard basis by a very busy Fred Roberts in the south and to the north end of the county, Robb Hamilton. Thanks to them both for doing what they can; they are both stretched very thin. Our Vice President, Celia Kutcher who handles the many twists and turns of membership and public relations, is also currently involved in several conservation efforts including the Dana Point Headlands and the SCORE process studying the Rancho Mission Viejo Company’s huge development plans in the heart our county. Thank you Celia for all your work.

Our two plant sales (fall and spring) are essential fundraisers for the chapter and without them we would not exist. But they are also an attempt to enthuse people about our native flora by providing access to a wide range of natives not always found at the far-flung nurseries growing natives. We all work on this one. Celia and I coordinate plant lists and purchases. Volunteer coordinator Todd Heinsma handles calling members who have helped in the past, asking them to come and help again. (Expect a call soon for our spring plant sale at Tree of Life Nursery, April 5th!).

Thanks also to Elizabeth Songster, currently our chapter Treasurer (and my lovely wife) who handles the funds from our plant sales and pays our bills. She also sets up and sells the books, posters, and tee shirts at our general meetings. I do the ordering of publications and haul the boxes of books out of our garage to the meeting.

Our chapter also strives to have an outreach presence at various environmental gatherings, providing handouts, information about CNPS, and membership brochures, and just talking about native plants. Brad Jenkins has been active in this area. And let’s not forget hospitality! Where would we be without the delicious snacks at our meetings? I wonder indeed. Thank you Sarah! (Especially for the great cheeses…)

There is so much more we do, but you get the idea and it is rather boring reading isn’t it? And of course there is so much more we would like to do, but unfortunately we are a small group. You have read the names above and see them repeated again and again. That means a few people are doing several jobs. Those generous volunteers on the board do not complain, but they are only five people and we see the need to spread the work around so that it is done well and enjoyable too. The board has been discussing a new structure for our chapter’s leadership that will hopefully accomplish more worthwhile work, with less workload for individuals. So don’t be surprised (or worried) if you are contacted in the near future about helping in some small way to make the chapter more efficient and enjoyable, while also helping to ensure its long term existence. If you feel that you would like to help in some way (even if you do not know what form your help would take) please call Sarah or me, we would be more than happy to talk with you!

The morning is a calm time and great for a little reflection and planning the day’s activities. And as the sun rises, we go to work. Will you help?

Thank You,

Dan Songster



Calling All Gardeners!

Our Second Annual Tour of Native or Near-native Plant Gardens will take place on May 17 (South County) and 18 (North County).

If you would like your garden to be on the tour, please call or email Sarah Jayne at 949-552-0691 or


2002 Review & 2003 Look Ahead

One year ago, our January/February 2002 Newsletter discussed three large conservation issues that were pending in Orange County. As 2003 begins, all three are still in process.

Rancho Mission Viejo:

SCORE: Celia Kutcher is the Chapter’s representative on the SCORE (South County Outreach and Review Effort) Program’s Land Use Task Force. The Task Force’s purpose and findings to date are summarized in SCORE Program Phase One Report, available online at A desk copy is available at Chapter meetings. The Task Force will review and discuss the final Draft Alternatives for Rancho Mission Viejo’s future, to be unveiled by the resource agencies in early spring, as part of the input to the County’s formal planning process.

NCCP/SAMP/MSAA/HCP: The resource agencies (US Fish & Wildlife Service, Calif. Dept. of Fish & Game, US Army Corps of Engineers, OC Planning & Development Services Dept.) are jointly holding a series of public meetings on the planning processes that will determine the Ranch’s fate. At the most recent meeting (October 30), the almost universal comment (from 400+ attendees, OC CNPS members among them) was: “Let’s buy the Ranch and preserve it all as natural open space!” Contact to receive notification of the next meeting. Chapter Conservation Co-Chair Fred Roberts and Rare Plants Chair Dave Bramlet are writing an official Chapter letter to the resource agencies, detailing the Ranch’s rare plant populations and endangered habitats and how they will be affected by proposed development. Contact for a copy. (Fred and Dave are also working on this issue behind the scenes.)

Dana Point Headlands: The Dana Point Headlands Action Group, a coalition of environmental groups, was formed last summer to raise community consciousness about the Headlands Development and Conservation Plan’s non-conformity to Coastal Act policies and to lobby the Coastal Commission on the issue. Celia Kutcher represents the Chapter in the Action Group, and Fred Roberts works behind the scenes. The Action Group held a Rally for the Headlands in October, has begun a letter-writing campaign to lobby the Commission, and is gathering a busload of supporters to go to the Commission hearing, which may be in February, or later. To join the bus (or if you’re planning to go on your own), contact

Trabuco District, Cleveland Nat’l Forest: The National Forest in Orange County’s back yard, along with the other three Southern California National Forests, has been in the process of amending its Forest Plan for almost two years. Public hearings on the proposed Alternatives are scheduled for Spring 2003. It is not known at this writing how the new “President’s Healthy Forests Initiative” and other recent Administration proposals may affect this process. In addition, these and other threats to the Trabuco District got stronger in 2002:

  • A pump storage hydroelectric plan that involves damming part of Morrell Canyon, just north of the San Mateo Wilderness Area.
  • A high-voltage transmission line from the above hydroelectric installation.
  • A new trans-forest road between Riverside and Orange Counties, and/or a drastically remodeled Ortega Highway.

The Santa Ana Mountains Task Force (SAMTF) of Sierra Sage (So. OC Sierra Club) is sponsoring a free picnic lunch at Casper’s Wilderness Park on Feb. 8, 2003, 10 AM, to bring the environmental community up to speed on threats to the Trabuco District. OC CNPS members will lead a nature walk at 11 AM, and staff an information table all day. Contact for more information. Laura Curran is the liaison between the Chapter and SAMTF. Directions: take Ortega Highway (SR 74) east from San Juan Capistrano about 8 miles, turn left into Casper’s Park & pay entrance fee, proceed to Owl/Quail Group Site.

There were two big victories for Orange County’s natural environment in 2002:

  • Barham Ranch will become part of Santiago Oaks Regional Park.
  • Bolsa Chica Mesa is a few steps closer to becoming part of the adjacent Ecological Reserve.

Many other Orange County environmental issues are ongoing: Banning Ranch/Santa Ana River Park, Chino Hills, Coyote Hills, Crystal Cove, Saddleback Meadows/Saddle Creek/Saddle Crest, and more. The environmental community is working together to preserve these natural areas. Your help is needed.

Celia Kutcher, Chapter representative, Dana Headlands and SCORE


UCI Arboretum: Weed War & More

Last January OC CNPS began a war against weeds in the California Native Collection at the UCI Arboretum. The weekly work of a dedicated crew has paid off in a notable reduction in weeds and invasive non-natives. We also:

  • Pruned, trimmed, shaped, and generally spruced up the collection.
  • Realigned and re-graded a section of pathway.
  • Did preparation and setup for our Fall Plant Sale.
  • Did preparation and follow-up for the Otay Mountain. Collection project.

On our two major workdays, in the Baja/Islands Collection in April and the Otay Mountain Collection in November, a lot of largish rocks were placed and a lot of decomposed granite was shoveled. The hardscapes thus formed were planted later, mostly with plants grown by Arboretum Curator Mark Elvin from documented seed he collected in the wild.

Other projects:

  • Several Chapter members supervised groups of students on several Saturday workdays in the spring.
  • Dan Songster and Celia Kutcher assisted with several of Arboretum Director Dr. Peter Bowler’s classes.
  • Dan has begun repairs on irrigation systems.

The Arboretum Weed War continues! Recent rains have sprouted a bumper crop. Additional crew is always welcome, just come to the Arboretum on Thursdays around 9:30 AM. It’s OK to work for just an hour or so. Every weed removed means fewer seeds to germinate next year! Hat, gloves, water, sturdy work shoes, and sunscreen are advised; bring your favorite weeding implement if possible. Work is canceled if 1/4 inch or more of rain occurs within 24 hours beforehand; if in doubt, contact Celia at 949-496-9689 by 8:30 AM Thurs. Directions: From the 405, take Jamboree south to Campus Drive. Turn left on Campus, very shortly turn right onto a campus service road, then left into the Arboretum’s drive-in gate. Park in the gravel area behind the greenhouse. If that’s full, park in the campus lot across the way and feed the meter (parking passes may be available).


California Coastal Commission Initiates Community-Based Restoration and Wetland Education Program In Upper Newport Bay

Coastal wetlands are of vital ecological, hydrological, and economic significance. Despite their recognized importance, it is estimated that 97% of coastal wetlands in Southern California have been lost. That is why California Coastal Commission has chosen the region’s largest wetland, Upper Newport Bay, to pilot a Community-Based Restoration and Wetland Education Program.

Upper Newport Bay (UNB) holds critical feeding and breeding grounds for the magnificent array of birds, fish, and other wildlife. Many of these species are endangered; and healthy wetland areas represent their last and best chance for survival. Introduced plants, representing 47% of UNB’s flora, out compete natives because the animals and diseases that kept them in check in their home ranges are missing–leaving native animals struggling to find the food and shelter with which they evolved. The California Coastal Commission hired specialists to provide restoration plans appropriate for community volunteers, involving weed eradication, planting, seed collection, propagation, and monitoring strategies.

The philosophy of our program is that awareness alone does not automatically lead to action. Participants must develop a personal relationship with the environment if they are going to protect it. The Community-Based Restoration Program will provide an avenue for people to participate in a very hands-on way to restore their local endangered resource. The complementary high school curriculum, currently under development, fulfills State Science Content Standards with activities that connect education with real life. These stewardship and education programs focus on the history and ecology of UNB; the effects of urbanization and non-point source pollution, non-native invasions and loss of biodiversity; and the importance of community-based restoration and stewardship.

While the program’s initial funding is for 18 months, we will continually identify and pursue a variety of funding sources, and work to establish partners who are interested in applying for grants cooperatively. In this way we will ensure that we can continue to work with the public to restore UNB habitat. Since we started in February 2002, we have had a lot of fun and great success with restoration events every fourth Saturday. After attacking a ½ acre stand of Arundo, we thatched the canes together to build a roof for our native plant shade house. We call it the “Exotic Hut”; its support posts are Brazilian Pepper Tree trunks! Volunteers also pulled over 17,000 pounds of iceplant since October; most of which was hauled to a green waste recycling facility. We planted 150 high marsh natives in the prime real estate opened by ice plant removals in the West Bay, and another 150 coastal sage scrub to enhance Shellmaker Island. Most of these were in containers from Tree of Life; we want to start using the Exotic Hut to propagate Bay seeds, but we need your help!

The UNB Stewards meet at the Exotic Hut every Wednesday morning to propagate plants in the nursery, and to complete the cycle by out-planting during the winter. The nursery program has three goals.

1)     To create and foster a volunteer program that serves community needs for ecological recreation and builds a constituency around an ethic of ecological restoration and stewardship.

2)     To teach people, especially youth, the concepts of community, ecology, and horticulture using the nursery as a hands-on experiential classroom.

3)     To produce high quality container plants of appropriate species as called for by restoration projects.

Stay tuned for Central Coast Wilds’ one-day, hands-on workshop on native plant production techniques for Upper Newport Bay.

Amid UNB’s wetland world of pickleweed, cattails, mudflats and tidal sloughs, wildlife seek refuge and Californians take solace in nature. UNB provides important open space for a public in need of places to bike, jog and kayak or simply walk and observe nature’s beauty. We, the public, are the stewards of our natural environment. Tomorrow’s generations can only trust that we will continue to learn about and appreciate this jewel in our midst, the Upper Newport Bay, so they might enjoy it as we have.

Steward Days every Wednesday* Green thumbs welcome! Help ensure that native plants with the Bay’s unique genetics are available for restoration activities by collecting seeds, propagating plants, and helping with nursery operations. Meet at the Exotic Hut on Shellmaker Island, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Restoration Teamwork every fourth Saturday, 1/25, 2/22* Volunteers help remove invasives and plant coastal sage scrub in order to promote native wildlife. Join in this rewarding work! Meet at the Interpretive Center, 9 AM. – 12 PM

*Dates subject to change; contact Kristin Finstad, Project Coordinator, California Coastal Commission:(949) 640-0286,


Opportunities and Announcements

Spring 2003 Class At Starr Ranch: The Natural History of Plants

Are you interested in learning more about the native plants of our region? If so, Audubon’s Starr Ranch Sanctuary in southeast Orange County invites you to take a native plant class this coming spring.

This popular course, taught by Audubon biologist/educator Dave Bontrager, offers an introduction to the identification and natural history of plants. After an initial look at the structure and composition of our most common plant communities the class will investigate plant reproductive strategies including plant-pollinator relationships and adaptations for seed dispersal, chemical and physical defenses against herbivores, plant adaptations to fire and drought, the natural history of parasitic plants, the impact of introduced, non-native plants in native communities, and much more. Extended time will be spent in the field studying plant identification, plant-plant relationships, and plant-animal relationships, especially those between plants and birds. Beginners are welcome—no previous knowledge of plant identification or plant natural history is required.

Meeting Times: Sundays from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM on March 23 and 30, April 27, May 4, June 8 and 15, and July 13 and 20. Spacing the classes over time allows for looking at seasonal changes.

Class Limit: 20 Cost: $75

Reservations: Call 949-858-0131

Questions: contact Dave Bontrager at or 541-937-3970, or call the Starr Ranch Sanctuary at 949-858-0309.

Winter Classes at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden

An array of interesting classes will be offered in winter 2003. The classes are limited in size so it’s important to sign up promptly. Fees vary. For information, call 909-625-8767 ext.224 or visit the garden at

A Garden for All Seasons: a Native Plant Home Landscaping Workshop
Saturday, February 15, 9 AM-4 PM
$50 ($62 nonmember) Limit: 20

Care and maintenance of a Native Plant Garden
Saturday, February 22, 9 AM-3 PM
Presented by our own Dan Songster

Winter is the time to do some important garden chores to ensure that your newly planted or established native plant garden performs well in the spring and summer. We will consider proper planting and pruning techniques as well as viewing and discussing several examples of common disease and pests often effecting native plants with comments concerning avoiding and/or treatments. 
$48 ($57 nonmember) Limit: 20

Botanical Walks in the Garden
Sunday, January 26 and Sunday, February 9, 2 PM-4 PM
$10 ($12 nonmember) Limit: 15

Field Identification of Southern California Manzanitas
Class Session: Tuesday, January 28, 7 PM-9 PM
Field Study: Saturday, February 1, 8 AM-6 PM
$80 ($95 nonmember) Limit: 18

Basics of Botanical Illustration
Saturday, February 8, 10 AM-2 PM
$48 ($60 nonmember) Limit: 15

Field Survey Techniques: Plant Communities and Rare Plants
Class Session: Saturday, February 8, 9 AM-4 PM
Field Study: Sunday, February 9, 10 AM-2 PM
$135 ($150 nonmember) Limit: 15

Preparing Plant Specimens for Personal Study and Herbarium Use
Saturday, March 15, 10 AM-4 PM
$65 ($78 nonmember) Limit: 20

Birds of San Jacinto Wildlife Refuge
Lecture, Thursday, January 23, 7 PM-9 PM
$5 ($7 nonmember)

Winter Birding Field Trip: San Jacinto Wildlife Refuge
Sunday, January 26, 6 AM-4 PM
$65 ($78 nonmember) Limit 12

Joshua Tree National Park Geology: Lecture and Booksigning
Dr. D. D. Trent is the author of a new book on the geology of Joshua National Park. Copies of will be available for purchase and signing by Dr. Trent.
Tuesday, February 18, 7 PM-9 PM
$7 ($9 nonmember)

A Weekend at Joshua Tree National Park
Dr. Trent will guide this trip.
Saturday-Sunday, February 22-23
$145 ($170 nonmember) Limit: 12

Restoration Days at Shipley Nature Center

Saturdays February 1 and March 1, 9 AM to Noon

Your help is needed to ensure that the Nature Center will remain a place of education and relaxation in Huntington Beach for years to come. For more information visit the volunteer web site,

Bring: Shovel, pickaxe, gloves or whatever gardening tools you have available (you may want to write your name on them), water, a hat, sunscreen and your family and friends!

Directions: Huntington Beach Central Park is located between Golden West and Edwards south of Slater. Check a map for the best exit from the 405. Enter from the parking lot off Edwards on Central Park Drive. Walk out of the parking lot at the north end entrance and follow the white line, which leads all the way to the front gate.

State Chapter Council Meeting at RSABG

The CNPS State Chapter Council is made up of presidents or representatives from all the chapters in the state and meets four times a year at different locations. Issues that affect all chapters are discussed at these meetings. This is the only meeting in Southern California.

The whole meeting, starting at 8:30 AM, is open to chapter members, though the afternoon session, which starts at 1:00 PM, might be of greatest interest. Dan Songster is planning the afternoon session. Reservations are requested for whole-day attendance as lunch is served. Call the garden at 909-625-8767.

Visit the new native plantings at Turtle Rock Nature Center

Earlier this year, we awarded an Acorn Grant to Nathaniel Pinckney, an Eagle Scout candidate. His project involved restoring native plants, constructing a decomposed granite pathway, and installing signage in a portion of the grounds of the Turtle Rock Nature Center in Irvine. More than 25 scouts of all ages participated with over 150 man-hours to implement Nathaniel’s plans. After much hard work, the project is now completed.

The Center is located at 1 Sunnyhill Drive, Irvine, in the Turtle Rock community. It is open Monday-Saturday from 9 AM to 4 PM and Sunday from Noon to 4 PM. Pictures are available at

Web Site Photo Contest

Our first prize, a $25 certificate for our “book store”, was awarded to Lori Whelan for her photo of a tarantula hawk grazing on a California Buckwheat bloom. Second prize went to Scott McKenzie for his portrait of a Matilija Poppy. See these on our website at

Field Trips

We have no field trips scheduled for January or February though there are other activities. Check the Calendar. In order that you may save the dates, we’re including here the field trips that have been scheduled to date. Notice that there are gaps. We decided this year to leave spaces for trips offered by other groups. We’ve often found ourselves in conflict with two or three choices on the same day! We’d love to have suggestions for future field trips. Feel free to contact the Field Trip Committee. Full details for all field trips will appear in the appropriate newsletter.

March 29 (Saturday)—Limestone Canyon and the Sinks

Lori Whalen from The Nature Conservancy will lead. Meeting time and directions later.

April 12 (Saturday)—Santa Rosa Plateau

This is a joint trip with the Sierra Club. Should be a splendid time for flowers—if we have more rain. This will be a slow and easy walk through the ecological Reserve, 5 miles, 300’ gain.

Meet at 8 AM at the North Orange County Rideshare, or 9 AM at the Reserve Visitor Center. Bring water, lunch, lug soles, $2 donation to the reserve. Rain cancels. CNPS member Gabriele Rau will lead for Sierra Club.

April 26 (Saturday)—Tecate Cypress/Coal Canyon

Portions of this area were burned last year. Will there be Braunton’s Milkvetch? Details later.

May 3 and 4 (Saturday and Sunday)—Botanical Exploration and Documentation along the US-Mexico Border

Mark Elvin is organizing a 2-day collecting expedition to Otay Mountain and the Border area east to Campo in San Diego County. It will be a rain or shine thing. Small groups will accompany skilled leaders who will give instruction (as needed) on collecting voucher specimens and documentation of taxa. Mark feels that there is a good chance of finding and documenting taxa new to California and possibly the US. Hikes will vary in difficulty; there will be a choice between moderate and strenuous! Camping facilities will be arranged.

So, if the spirit of adventure is with you, signify your eagerness to participate by calling Mark Elvin at 760-942-5147 (work) or 760-871-1178 (cell). Or you may email Sarah Jayne at The San Diego chapter is participating, too, so get your name on the list! Full details in the next newsletter.

June 7 (Saturday)—Canoe Trip on the Upper Newport Bay

This delightful paddle on the bay has become an annual tradition. We hope this year to have one of the UNB botanist along for the ride. Details later.



Laguna Coast Wilderness: 949-494-9352.

For walks in the Northern and Southern Reserves call The Nature Conservancy at 714-832-7478.

Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park:
Thomas Riley Regional Park: 949-728-3420

Rancho Mission Viejo Land Conservancy: 949-489-9778

Crystal Cove State Park: 949-497-7647

Walks with an emphasis on the shrubs of the Crystal Cove backcountry will take place on January 18, and February 15 (Saturdays). Meet at 9 AM at the ranger station. If rain has closed the backcountry, meet at the Reef Point parking lot. We’ll look at coastal bluff vegetation. Pouring rain will cancel the walk.

From PCH turn inland past El Morro School between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach. There is a sign at the turn off. Parking is $5. Call or email Sarah Jayne for more information: 949-552-0691 or


CDFA Cuts Biocontrols, Weed Eradication Programs

Responding to the governor’s request to reduce budgets, the California Department of Food & Agriculture has focused its cuts almost entirely on weed control programs, indicating that these projects are not considered “core” parts of the department’s mission. The department, asked to trim $1 million from their general fund budget of approximately $30 million, cut $750,000 from weed programs, whose total budget is $2-3 million.

These cuts come from two important weed programs: The Weed & Vertebrate Program concentrates on new, incipient infestations of A-rated plant and animal pests, eradicating them before they became major problems. It more than pays for itself. The Biological Control Program addresses weeds that are so widespread that alternative means of control are prohibitive. If biocontrol of a given target species, such as yellow starthistle, tamarisk, arundo, brooms, or Cape ivy, is successful, it eliminates the problem for all time. The initial cost of the program then becomes minuscule. CDFA works closely with the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS), disseminating biocontrol agents researched by ARS. Without CDFA participation, much of that priceless ARS research is is wasted.

Weeds are second only to development as threats to our wildlands. Biocontrol is the single best alternative to pesticides. Cutting the programs makes no sense from any perspective; it is penny-wise and pound-foolish. We must point out the self-defeating, counterproductive nature of the proposed cuts, which will cost the taxpayers untold millions of dollars later and cause the unnecessary loss of productive land.

In addition to the weed control programs, CDFA has reassigned some of its 12 biocontrol scientists plus support staff and may reassign more. Not only will projects underway be discontinued, nearly everything invested will be lost. It will be difficult and expensive to restart the projects, as the scientists will have dispersed and the continuity lost.

Weed Management Areas (WMAs) are new cooperative entities that have exploded over the state, creating venues for all public and private landowners and citizen volunteers to come together to address problems that seriously affect the economic welfare and quality of life of everyone. Cuts in biocontrol and eradication programs would deal a body-blow to WMAs. In the form of the Craig-Daschle bill, S. 198, bipartisan national support for local weed control efforts seems about to happen, and California, with its WMAs, is well-positioned to benefit from it. Is it possible this will happen just as California is jerking the rug from beneath the WMAs?

Very diverse groups—e.g., CA Farm Bureau, CNPS, CA Exotic Pest Plant Council, CA Cattlemen’s Assn, Regional Council of Rural Counties, The Nature Conservancy, CA Forest Council, wildlife groups, et al—have come together in the past year to develop a comprehensive education and legislative program to address the weed problem on a statewide level. CDFA agreed to provide information and support for the group, known as CA Invasive Weed Awareness Coalition (CALIWAC). Cuts could have a devastating impact on CALIWAC, depriving it of CDFA’s crucial support.

As CDFA’s website says, “The Division’s pest prevention program is crucial to California’s economic well-being, and…this program must continue performing effectively in the future to reduce the increasing threats of exotic pest invasion in our globalized world… It is more important than ever that pest prevention strategies meet these challenges to protect our people, commerce, and environment.”

The governor is expected to ask for more cuts, and CDFA management’s response to this first round may indicate an intent to further cut—or eliminate—their weed programs. We all benefit greatly from these programs, at least indirectly. It is critical that we let the department know that such cuts damage important weed work on the ground. Please (1) alert your colleagues, and (2) register an opinion with CDFA Secretary William Lyons, Jr. (on letterhead if appropriate). His address is CDFA, 1220 N Street, Sacramento, CA 95814. To contact him via email, send messages to his secretary Sue Hessing at Be sure to cc your assembly representative and state senator.

In your letter, congratulate CDFA on showing commendable responsiveness to the changing nature of the times as it moved from an exclusive preoccupation with agriculture to a broadened focus including wildland and rangeland weeds. It should not turn back the clock. Your message is strengthened if you cite on-the-ground problems in your area and the potential effects of ignoring them. It is important that your letter reflects your local problems, so use this report only as suggestive.

—Jake Sigg, CNPS Invasive Exotics Chair

—Doug Johnson, Executive Director, CalEPPC

More On Weeds…


The California Exotic Pest Plant Countil (Cal-EPPC) is committed to supporting the excellent work of CDFA’s weed programs. If you would like more information on this issue, please contact Executive Director Doug Johnson at Visit their website at

Wildland Weed Updates and Alerts are sent periodically to those interested in California land stewardship issues. If you would like to be removed from the list, or added to it, please reply to with “Wildland Weed Update list” in the subject line.

The California Exotic Pest Plant Council works to protect California’s natural areas from wildland weeds through research, restoration, and education. Membership is $30/year for individuals, $100/year for institutions. Cal-EPPC News is published quarterly, and the Cal-EPPC Symposium is held each October.

Wal-Mart stops selling pampas grass in California

Sometimes a well-placed letter actually does change things. Carolyn Martus, a Cal-EPPC member in Carlsbad, was dismayed to find pampas grass for sale at Wal-Mart while she and others worked to stop its rapid invasion into San Diego’s open spaces. She expressed her concerns in a short email to Wal-Mart customer service.

That email was forwarded to Linda Prendergast, the company’s horticultural buyer for stores west of the Rockies. “I’m a California native, and I’m sensitive to such issues,” says Linda. “I realized that there really was a lot of pampas grass up in the canyons above La Verne and Montclair [in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains].” In late November, Linda removed pampas grass from the list of plants available to the one hundred Wal-Mart stores in California. Once the current stock in stores is gone (by March), pampas grass will no longer be available at Wal-Mart in California.

Carolyn has not stopped there. She has also contacted Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Armstrong Garden Centers about pampas grass. Lowe’s customer service replied, “We are looking into directing our future growing commitments shift into other popular grasses. The nursery industry in southern California is very aware of the invasive nature of this plant.” Armstrong claims to sell only “sterile” ‘Ivory Feathers,’ and says that they, too, are aware of how widely invasive pampas grass has become.

Linda’s decision to take pampas grass off the shelves was a personal one, and does not represent a formal corporate policy. Nonetheless, it is an important start in the effort to sell only habitat-friendly plants at “big box” outlets. Linda has also instituted a partial restriction on English ivy sales at Wal-Mart stores in Oregon, where they are still sold as houseplants, but not for outdoor planting. She believes most horticultural buyers care deeply about “doing the right thing,” and that those concerned about invasive plant issues should continue to approach buyers for constructive dialogue.

If you wish to express support for Linda’s decision to remove pampas grass from Wal-Mart shelves in California, write her at 3233 Grand Ave., Suite N-411, Chino Hills, CA 91709-1489.

—Doug Johnson, CalEPPC