Newsletter 2004 September – October

California Native Plant Society

Orange County Chapter

September/October 2004



Planting season approaches…

…and with it, .our Annual Fall Plant Sale!

Saturday, October 23, from 9 AM to 3 PM at the UCI Arboretum

Yes, it is happening a bit later than usual this year, but this puts it closer to the—let’s be optimistic—winter rains. Over the summer, my garden has developed some holes that offer me an opportunity to try something new, a chance I don’t get too often in my small garden. If you need inspiration and new ideas for your garden, be sure to attend our September meeting. Check up Weed Wars in October. We look forward to renewing acquaintances after our summer hiatus.

Sarah Jayne, Chapter President

Sep 1–Board Meeting
Sep 4–Shipley Nature Center Meeting
Sep 16–Chapter Meeting
Sep 18–Shipley Nature Center Celebration
Oct 2–Shipley Workday
Oct 7–Board Meeting
Oct 16–Crystal Cove Walk, 9 AM
Oct 21–Chapter Meeting
Oct 23–Plant Sale
Oct 23–SCB Symposium
UCI Workdays

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


September 16 (Thursday)—Successful California Natives for the Home Garden
Speaker: Bart O’Brien

Though many California native plants grow in tough places under difficult climatic conditions, some just do not respond well to being pampered in the home garden. Many, however, very happily accept the ‘good life’ and thrive with little special attention. Learn which plants are reliably successful, which work well together, and some tips for helping them along (i.e., not killing them!)

As Director of Horticulture at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Bart O’Brien is intimately familiar with our native flora in a garden setting. In addition, he is an entertaining speaker. Join us and get excited about the fall planting season!

October 21 (Thursday)—Contending with the Weeds: the War on Arundo and Artichoke
Speaker: Bill Tidwell

Artichoke thistle and Arundo donax (Wild Reed) are two of the most pernicious weeds in Orange County. Arundo invades waterways and riparian areas while artichoke gobbles up whole hillsides. Both are extremely resistant to extinction.

Bill Tidwell is Orange County’s first line of defense against these awesome enemies. Listen as tells about the techniques, the tools, and the personnel that are thrown into front lines in this on-going contest.

Bill Tidwell is one of the County’s leading authorities on weed abatement. He has taught ecology classes at Saddleback College and led trips into the field.


APOLOGY: In our last newsletter, I promised that there would be sample letters for several issues on our website. Those letters never got written, due to a combination of circumstances. My apologies for any problems this may have caused.


Several polls taken this spring and early summer show broad support for environmental protection in general and endangered species protection in particular. This is not new. Polling data has consistently shown strong support for conservation of resources and biological diversity.

However, there remains a broad misconception that the people of the U.S. do not care about the environment and do not trust science or scientists in land use and management decision-making.

Neither of these ideas is supported by data. The media and elected officials, who often help spread misconceptions about public opinion on the environment, need to be frequently reminded of the strong public support for the environment.

ACTION NOW:Keep reminding and convincing our elected officials and the media of the facts and data available in these websites that detail the recent poll results:

The polls show that any perception that there is a ground swell of support for weakening the Endangered Species Act is clearly a misperception. Voters are strongly supportive of species protections in general and the ESA specifically, including and especially with regard to protecting critical habitat. So it is hard to understand why our elected and appointed official continue to attack the Endangered Species Act and other environmental laws, as seen in the following.


Two bad Endangered Species Act bills are making their way through Congress. They are Rep. Dennis Cardoza’s (D-CA) “Critical Habitat Reform Act of 2003” (HR 2933) and Rep. Greg Walden’s (R-OR) “Sound Science for Endangered Species Act Planning Act” (HR 1662). These bills would lessen habitat protections for endangered species and would add additional burdens to the scientific process of listing species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Both bills passed out of the House Resources committee on July 21. These bills must go through several votes in both the House and Senate before they can become law. More than 400 scientists have sent a letter asking Congress to reject these changes to ESA.

ACTION NOW: Contact your Congressman and Senator and join the 400 scientists in asking Congress not to weaken ESA and not to undermine its scientific foundation. ESA is our most effective conservation law. A primary reason for its effectiveness is that it is firmly based on science. These bills will weaken the role of science in imperiled species management, and thus reduce chances for recovery.

Find your legislators at Type in your ZIP code to locate contact information.

More information on the bills can be found at Type in the number of the bill you are interested in.


Two court decisions that are very important to efforts to protect plants and their habitat were handed down in early August, one for desert tortoises in California, one for northern spotted owls in the Pacific Northwest. These decisions add to the other courts that have said that under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), both the organisms themselves AND their habitat (including prey, pollinators, hydrologic processes, unoccupied habitat that may be useful for reintroduction one day, etc.) must be conserved. The courts also are recognizing that the critical habitat portion of the ESA is about recovering (and delisting) species, rather than merely preventing their extinction—a crucial distinction that has often been overlooked or ignored.


The Center for Biological Diversity and the California Native Plant Society filed suit in Federal District Court on August 13 to compel the Secretary of the Interior to designate “Critical Habitat” under provisions of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for five extremely rare plant species. The species, Mexican flannelbush, San Diego thornmint, Vail Lake ceanothus, Yadin’s rein orchid and Nevin’s barberry occur in San Diego, Riverside, Los Angeles, Monterey Counties and Baja, Mexico. These species are threatened with habitat destruction from urban sprawl, competition from nonnative species and other factors.

“Critical Habitat” under the Endangered Species Act is defined as “areas essential for survival and recovery of a species.” The designation adds an additional important layer of protection for endangered species. Under ESA, federal agencies are barred from granting permits or funding or authorizing activities that would destroy the habitat areas.

ESA states that the Secretary of Interior will designate Critical Habitat within one year of listing a species under the Act. The five plant species were all so listed in 1998. However, the Secretary of Interior has failed to designate Critical Habitat for them.

The case number is C 04-3240, in the U.S. Federal Court, Northern District of California. For more information, contact Peter Galvin, CBD, (707) 986-7805, or Emily Roberson, CNPS, (415) 970-0394.


State CNPS and the Center for Biological Diversity wrote a strong comment letter on lacks in the Critical Habitat Plan for Allium munzii (CNPS List 1B and Federally Endangered). One of its best populations grows on Elsinore Peak, but the plant is not found elsewhere in the Santa Anas. Portions of the peak area are being proposed for part of the Critical Habitat for this species.

BUILDING GREEN CORRIDORS, a free conference on the important issues of doing so, will be held Saturday, October 16 in Griffith Park, co-sponsored by Sierra Club Angeles Chapter and other groups. The event includes workshops and a complimentary lunch. Register at

THE CNPS VEGETATION WORKSHOP, to learn CNPS Rapid Assessment methodology, is upcoming October 4-5 at Griffith Park. Enrollment will be limited to 25 participants on a first-come/first-serve basis. Register at


BOLSA CHICA: On August 12 the California Wildlife Conservation Board approved the purchase of 102 acres of the lower mesa by the State of California. The $65 million purchase price comes from Proposition 50 funds approved by voters in 2002. This is an exciting victory, for wildlife as well as for all who advocate preserving coastal Orange County’s remaining open space. It is cautioned, however, that the landowner’s stockholders have until June 2005 to approve or deny the sale. Meanwhile, the Coastal Commission will hear Brightwater Homes’ plan for the upper mesa at its October meeting. See and

COYOTE HILLS: The DEIR for development of the Hills is still under Fullerton city re-review after a public comment period. Additional public input is TBA. See

DANA POINT HEADLANDS: In August, the Coastal Commission took its final vote on the plan to develop the Dana Point Headlands, a plan that violates six Coastal Act policies. To no one’s surprise, but to environmentalists’ sorrow and disappointment, the Commission approved the plan, thus turning the Coastal Act on its head. The Commission did impose about 200 conditions on the plan, which actually improve it in several ways, including more and better free public beach/shore access and low-cost visitor facilities. Surfrider Foundation and Sierra Club continue to weigh their options and fully intend on using every administrative and legal means available to uphold the letter, spirit, and intent of the Coastal Act. It is not yet known if CNPS will join them. Contact

HOBO-ALISO RIDGE: A coalition of Laguna Beach environmental groups has formed to focus on preservation of this ridge of San Onofre Breccia, home to a lot of rare plant species and abutting the southerly end of Aliso-Wood Wilderness Park. A large chunk of the property has already been set aside and the Laguna Canyon Foundation is working to purchase the rest. A portion of this property is owned by a nearby top-end resort hotel, which has also purchased the adjoining, long-established, 9-hole golf course in Aliso Canyon and wants to expand it to 18 holes. To do so, they must be allowed to use a small part of the Wilderness Park. The main issue will be holding the County to its word that its Wilderness Parks are to remain wilderness, whose criteria include not allowing golf courses. Contact:

PUENTE/CHINO HILLS: The Tonner Canyon bridge, on the 57 freeway, is the only place wildlife can safely cross between the Puente and Chino Hills–a “choke point”. Despite strong opposition from the environmental community and the City of Brea, plans have been devised to 1) build a highway along Tonner Ridge that will sever the wildlife corridor, and 2) build massive dams (to both store water and generate electricity) which will require bulldozing all the former Firestone Boy Scout Reservation. See

RANCHO MISSION VIEJO: On September 14, 2004, the Orange County Planning Commission will hold the first of three hearings on the Rancho Mission Viejo project, 5:30 PM – 9:30 PM at the Mission Viejo City Hall, located on the corner of La Paz and Marguerite Pkwy. Directions: This proposal for 14,000 units just inland of Mission Viejo, San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano would chop up Orange County’s last remaining unprotected wildlands, which are at the heart of a global treasure of biodiversity. The Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) is severely flawed. In addition, the state approved Natural Community Conservation Plan (NCCP) promised by the County since 1993 and championed by Supervisor Tom Wilson has not materialized.
OC CNPS wrote comment letters on the Ranch plan’s DEIR and another massive official document, the Foothill South Tollroad Extension Draft EIS/SEIR, which also spells out massive threats to South OC’s last large natural open space. The comment letters are on our website. (Many thanks to Fred Roberts and Dave Bramlet for providing rare plant data for the letter.) (from the PDF file, use the back arrow to return)

ACTION NOW: 1. Write to the OC Planning Commission with a copy to Supervisor Tom Wilson. 2. Attend the hearing and testify. Contact Celia for a sample letter and sample talking points. See:

SADDLEBACK CANYONS: The Rural Canyons Conservation Fund, Endangered Habitats League, and co-plaintiffs (including OC CNPS) are preparing to appeal the judge’s ruling that approval of the SaddleCreek/Crest development was within the discretion of the Board of Supervisors. The project would remove 500 to 1000 mature oaks and require massive grading in Live Oak and Trabuco Canyons. See

SANTA ANA RIVER: A “Lower Santa Ana Watershed Coalition” has been called together by Earth Resource Foundation, to bring together stakeholders in the Lower Santa Ana Watershed. The Foundation has received a grant from the Department of Conservation that will pay for a staff person who will work to coordinate efforts and projects aimed at water conservation and reducing our dependence on the Bay/Delta region. ACTION NOW: Contact if you are interested in improving water conservation, watershed education and watershed restoration and conservation projects in the Santa Ana Watershed.

TRABUCO DISTRICT, CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST: OC CNPS wrote a comment letter on the District’s part in the Forest Service’s new management plan for the four Southern California Forests. (Many thanks to Bob Allen, Fred Roberts and Dave Bramlet for providing much rare plant data for the letter.) The letter is posted on our website. State CNPS wrote a long and detailed comment letter on the plans for all four forests; contact Celia for its .pdf files. (from the PDF file, use the back arrow to return)

—Celia Kutcher, Conservation Chair

We thank Celia profusely for the time required to prepare this overview of the conservation issues that face us. While not all the news is bad, you will notice that this bi-monthly report takes up more and more space with each newsletter. Be worried! Obviously, the number of challenges to the environment is growing. One person cannot tackle them all. Choose your battle carefully then support it to the fullest extent that you are able. [Ed]


Our Chapter’s diligent weeding for the past three years has really paid off! Early fall finds the California native collection nearly weed-free and ready for new plants. When the weather is right we’ll have planting sessions during our regular Thursday work days; tell Celia that you’d like to help with planting and she’ll let you know when it’s scheduled. Or just join us on Thursday mornings, 9:30-1:30, to help with planting preparation, weeding and whatever else needs doing. Hat, gloves, water, sturdy work shoes, and sunscreen are advised; bring your favorite weeding implement if possible.

Directions: From 405, go south on Jamboree to Campus Dr. Turn left on Campus, then immediately right on an unnamed campus service road. Turn left into the Arboretum gate, park on the gravel behind the greenhouse.


On Saturday, September 18, 10 AM to 3 PM, Friends of Shipley Nature Center will host a grand “Celebration of Progress” at the Center to showcase the accomplishments in restoring the habitat, refurbishing the Interpretive Building, and creating a premiere educational program for elementary schoolchildren.

In addition, there will be a native plant sale, live insects, a display of Native American artifacts found nearby, informational booths, habitat tours, and refreshments.

Other events at Shipley Nature Center include:

Restoration Tuesdays—The Center is open for small groups by appointment for wild gardens, scout projects, weeding & watering. Call (714) 842-4772.

Restoration as Recreation—The Center is open to the pubic the first Saturday of each month from 9 AM to noon for weeding, trail maintenance & watering. Bring garden gloves and tools, drinking water and sturdy, closed-toe shoes.

Open Day—The third Sunday of each month from 10 AM to 3 PM, the Center is open to the public to “walk through” to enjoy nature and view progress of the restoration.

For more information visit


Work with Chris Barnhill on Chaparral Hill, the native plant section of the Arboretum, Thursdays 8:30 AM to noon.


Ecological Islands and Processes
Saturday, October 23, 9 AM to 5 PM

Topics include Vernal Pools, Pebble Plains, Ecological Islands, Habitat Islands from Wildfires, Adaptive Management, and Islands of Alkali Wetlands.

For more information visit http://www.socalbot.or