Newsletter 2005 July – August
California Native Plant Society
Orange County Chapter
Feature Article: Lower San Juan Trail
Chapter Council Meetings…
We—the Orange County, San Diego and South Coast Chapters—are sponsoring the September Chapter Council Meeting. Reservations have been made for a lovely meeting room in the historic district of San Clemente. Lodging has been arranged, speakers lined up, and field trips set up. This is a special invitation to all who would like to join us for the dinner and program on Saturday evening, September 10. Details later, but this is a wonderful opportunity to meet like-minded people from all over the state and to celebrate together 40 years of the California Native Plant Society.
The June Chapter Council Meeting at the Sierra Friends Conference Center near Nevada City—a beautiful setting—produced some interesting discussions. Among them was a vigorous exchange on the wording of a replacement for our current mission statement. As presented, it reads: “CNPS is dedicated to the preservation of California’s native flora and native plant communities.” The object was to keep the statement under twenty words. “Native flora” was quickly dropped, leaving just native plant communities. To include the associated animals, this became “natural communities”, and so on. One point made several times was to please add in the words “appreciation and enjoyment” somewhere in the statement. And isn’t that what it’s all been about in the past few months since the rains ended and the bloom began! This has truly been a season to appreciate and enjoy our California native flowers.
You may have noticed that an increasingly large section of this newsletter is given over to conservation issues. While we appreciate and enjoy, we must also be aware and concerned as our wildlands come under increasing pressure—countywide, statewide, countrywide. Thanks to Celia Kutcher, with help from Laura Curren, for keeping us up to date on Orange County.
And while I’m in the thanking mode, there are the members of the Board who, quietly behind the scene, see to the business of the chapter and make things happen: Dan Songster provides the interesting and varied speakers for our monthly meetings; Vice President Celia Kutcher, tends the weeds at the UCI Arboretum and is Conservation Chair; Brad Jenkins, fountain of energy and ideas and Treasurer; Mark Rozelle, Secretary, is the voice of reason; Joan Hampton, Membership Chair and voice of the Couch Potato; Mary Arámbula, Publications Chair, orders our wonderful selection of books. We could not do without Deanne Epley who provides refreshments at each meeting. Thanks, too, to those who pitch in so readily to help out at our meetings and our plant sales. Last, but certainly not least, thanks to all of you who, as members of the California Native Plant Society, support the mission, vision, and goals of our society—whatever the wording.
—Sarah Jayne, president
|CALENDAR July/August 2005
Jul 7…………………. Board Meeting
Jul 16…………. Crystal Cove Walk
Aug 4……………….. Board Meeting
Aug 20……….. Crystal Cove Walk
Sep 1……………….. Board Meeting
Sep 9 – 11 Chapter Council Mtng
Sep 15…………… Chapter Meeting
Oct 6……………….. Board Meeting
Oct 15……………………… Plant Sale
Thurs 10-1……………. UCI Arboretum
Any day, 8:30-noon……. Fullerton Arb
3rd Sat………………………. Bolsa Chica
Chapter meetings are held at the Irvine Ranch Water District headquarters at 15600 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine. Doors open at 7 PM and the meeting begins at 7:30. Wildflower posters and a wide variety of books are available at the meetings.
As usual, there will be no meetings in July or August. Our next meeting will be on September 15. Horticulture will be the topic to get us in the mood for the Fall Plant Sale on October 15.
OCCNPS CONSERVATION REPORT, JULY-AUGUST 2005
GENERAL ISSUES: Threats to the environment continue to be made at the Federal level. Here’s who to call, fax, email to oppose them. Snail mail may take 3 weeks to get through, due to security screening.
- Senator Barbara Boxer: 202-224-3553, fax 213-894-5042; boxer.senate.gov/contact/index.cfm
- Senator Diane Feinstein 202-224-3841, fax 202-228-3954; feinstein.senate.gov/email.html
- Your Representative (find at www.house.gov).
- U.S. Capitol Switchboard: (202) 225-3121; ask to be connected to your Representative’s office.
ATTACK CONTINUES ON ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT
The Endangered Species Act (ESA), passed in 1973, is a landmark law that provides a safety net for plant and animal species that have some degree of rarity. Because of its strength, ESA’s history has been filled with controversy. Over the past decade, ESA’s opponents in Congress have launched a range of attacks, from sneaky anti-environmental “riders” attached to must-pass spending bills to large full-scale assaults to undermine critical protections. The current Administration is seeking now to weaken ESA’s implementing regulations, while starving it of necessary funds or simply refusing to enforce it.
The Endangered Species Coalition works on a wide range of national, state and local endangered species issues and campaigns. See its Action Alert page, www.stopextinction.org/Team/Involved.
The most recent attack: House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R, CA, 11th. Dist.) is working on a comprehensive ESA reauthorization bill to be released soon. As part of the effort to weaken ESA, Rep. Pombo is having each of the Resources Committee’s subcommittees hold a hearing on ESA’s “impacts.” Of most direct CNPS interest: the Subcommittee on Forests’ hearing on ESA’s impacts on motorized recreation, on July 13. Other subcommittees’ hearings, e.g. on ESA’s “impacts” on mining and energy development and on water supply, have been or are being held; all also have a rare-species-preservation component.
Rep. Pombo’s plan is to have this all culminate with a vote on a comprehensive reauthorization bill in the Resources Committee on July 20th and a vote on the House floor July 27th. The aim is to have a bill passed by the House before the Aug. 1-Sept. 5 recess, when Congresspersons will return to their districts.
ACTION NOW: Remind Rep. Pombo and our own Orange Co. Representatives (Royce, 40th, Miller, 42nd, Calvert, 44th, Rohrabacher, 46th, Sanchez, 47th, Cox, 48th) that the American public—86% of voters according to a 2004 poll—support ESA as it is. See ESC’s Activists Toolbox at www.stopextinction.org/Team/Team.cfm?ID=70andc=2
ESC and the Native Plant Conservation Campaign are sponsoring the Endangered Species Act Local Resolution project. If you would like to help your city pass a resolution to uphold ESA, please contact Sarah Matsumoto at email@example.com. For more information on the ESA resolutions, see www. stopextinction.org/Team/TeamList.cfm?c=38
SAVE THE DATE: Resource Conservation Conference In Orange County, September. 16, 9:30 AM – 4:30 PM. The Local Government Commission, the Institute for Local Government, and Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks and its Orange County Green Vision Project are jointly presenting “Resource Conservation: Successful Strategies and Funding Opportunities for Creating Healthy Communities,” at the Hyatt Regency in Huntington Beach. Registration is $55: see www2.lgc.org/events for more info and to register.
CURRENT ORANGE COUNTY ISSUES:
CHINO/PUENTE HILLS: Join the Rally for the Ridgelines on July 8 at the corner of State College and Lambert in Brea, 5-6 PM. It’s a great time, with lots of “honking for the Hills” and thumbs-up from passing cars. Check www.savethemissingmiddle.org to confirm.
The City of Brea is seeking to repeal the overly ambitious and dated (1985) Carbon Canyon Specific Plan. Currently, that Plan allows about 1600 units in Carbon Canyon. Under the new rules that apply elsewhere in Brea, the number of dwelling units would be reduced to about 100. Those familiar with Carbon Canyon know of the steep slopes and the landslides that are prevalent in the undeveloped hills. The City expects to release the Draft Environmental Impact Report in July and enact the final one later in the year. See the city website: www.ci.brea.ca.us/article.cfm?id=1088
The Hillside Open Space Education Coalition (HOSEC) was formed In 2004, at the request of residents in the borderland of Los Angeles and Orange counties. The cities of Brea, La Habra, La Habra Heights, and Whittier and the communities of Hacienda Heights and Rowland Heights created HOSEC, with the mission of empowering local residents to help preserve parcels of hillside open space from the threat of development.
HOSEC has now launched its new website, www.hosec.com. Visitors to the site can check the list of upcoming steering committee meetings, review minutes of past meetings, read about the significance of the Puente-Chino Hills Wildlife Corridor and virtually “meet” the HOSEC steering committee, made up of people dedicated to preserving this natural resource and other important open space areas. The site also features a comprehensive bibliography of related articles and a frequently asked question section.
In recent weeks, HOSEC has approved requests for affiliate membership from many local and regional groups including: Hills For Everyone, Endangered Habitats League, Puente Chino Hills Task Force of Sierra Club, Whittier Audubon Society, Pomona Valley Audubon Society, League of Women Voters, Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks, Equestrian Coalition of Orange County, Whittier City School District, Assembly Member Ron Calderon, and former Assembly Member Marco Firebaugh.
Chino Hills State Park Happenings:
- An Interpretive Association is being organized; contact the park for more info.
- Campgrounds in the park have been opened—the newest State Park campgrounds in the State! First come, first served. The campgrounds are located off the main entrance in Chino Hills. See www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=648
DANA POINT HEADLANDS: On June 15, Superior Court Judge Michael Brenner denied Surfrider and Sierra Club’s request for a Preliminary Injunction, which if granted would have halted construction on the Headlands project until the lawsuit came to trial in the fall.
Sierra Club and Surfrider contended that the Headlands Development and Conservation Plan violates the Coastal Act, therefore the project is illegal and should be enjoined on that grounds. However, the judge found that, based on the findings presented by both sides, the Coastal Commission acted within its authority and there are no legal reasons to issue a Preliminary Injunction.
After the hearing, developer Sanford Edward said grading on the project would begin immediately. Clearing of the property began in mid-April. The permitted 11.29 acres of Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area was cleared, ironically, on Earth Day.
A decision on whether Surfrider and Sierra Club will continue the suit was pending at press time. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
EAST ORANGE: Almost 4000 homes are envisioned, located on both sides of the 241 toll road at Chapman Avenue/Santiago Canyon Road. This 1500-acre development would be adjacent to, and impact severely, both Irvine Park and Irvine Lake. The entire area is surrounded by large tracts of land donated by the Irvine Company to be permanently set aside from development. These lands are part of one of the most biologically important open space areas in the entire state.
The decision-making process on these projects seems to be approaching a conclusion. That conclusion is NOT fore-gone; the Orange City Council and Planning Commission are still waiting to hear thoughts, feelings, and comments from concerned residents of the area. On July 18 (tentative, time tba) the Planning Commission will begin formal consideration of the Irvine Company’s application to build these projects. See: the City of Orange, www.cityoforange.org/news/displaynews.asp?NewsID=367 the Irvine Company www.eastoforange.com See also orangehills.org for how to help oppose these projects, or at least work to make them less environmentally damaging.
MOUNTAIN PARK is an approximately 3,000-acre project site in Gypsum Canyon, south of the 91 Freeway, mostly between the Coal Canyon Reserve and the 241 toll road, mostly in the City of Anaheim. The proposed project calls for: a maximum of 2,500 residential units; a city fire station; a school site and adjacent public community park; trail staging area; store concession/interpretive center; public and private recreational facilities, including riding and hiking trails; and roadways and utilities necessary to serve the proposed development. Approximately 2,163 acres of open space would be preserved as part of the project. See maps and details at www.anaheim.net/citydepartments/planning/projects/MountainPark/mountain_park.htm
RANCHO MISSION VIEJO/SAN MATEO CREEK: At press time, there was no new news on the lawsuit filed by Endangered Habitats League, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sea and Sage Audubon Society, Laguna Greenbelt, and Sierra Club to challenge the County Board of Supervisors’ approval of the proposed development of Rancho Mission Viejo. ACTION NOW: Donations toward appeal expenses are still needed; make out to Sierra Club Foundation, with “Friends of the Foothills” on the memo line, and send to FOF/Sierra Club, attn: B. McKee, PO Box 3942, San Clemente 92674.
San Mateo Creek and San Onofre State Park, alongside the Creek, are still threatened by the proposed southern extension of SR-241, a multi-lane tollroad that would run down the creek’s valley to a massive interchange with I-5 just inland from Trestles. The tollroad EIR is expected to be released this summer. Stay tuned.
SADDLEBACK CANYONS: A decision is expected July 18 on the appeal of the County’s approval of the Saddle Creek and Saddle Crest developments. OCCNPS is part of the environmental coalition. ACTION NOW: Contributions to legal expenses may be made to Saddleback Canyons Conservancy, PO Box 714, Trabuco Canyon, CA 92678.
TRABUCO DISTRICT, CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST: A number of issues continue to threaten the ecological viability of OC’s backyard mountains.
Forest Plan: The Forest Service intends to release its Preferred Alternative for the new Forest Management Plan in September. This Alternative will spell out how the Trabuco District, along with the rest of the four Southern California National Forests, will be managed for the next 15-20 years.
State CNPS, in extensive comments on the Draft version released last summer, found, among other issues, that it:
- Failed to adequately comply with the Environmental Protection Act, particularly in its analyses of viability outcomes for plants. Rare-plant management and viability assessments were generally inadequate.
- Failed to designate Research Natural Areas and Critical Biological Zones that should be so designated.
- Was slanted toward increased off-road vehicle “recreation,” but that proposed management of such use was woefully inadequate.
- In general seemed to have forgotten/ignored the Forest Service’s historic mission to conserve the lands and resources under its stewardship.
For the Trabuco District, CNPS and OCCNPS requested that:
- Pleasants Peak and vicinity, with important populations of knob-cone pine, bigcone Douglas fir, and serpentine endemics, be designated a Research Natural Area.
- Thirteen sites, scattered along the main divide and in canyons and around major springs, be designated as Critical Biological Zones because of the rare plants/habitats there.
- An additional 29 rare plant habitats also be designated as Critical Biological Zones.
Shortly after the Preferred Alternative is presented, the Forest Service will hold series of Open Houses in September and October to solicit a last round of public comments. It’s likely that San Juan Capistrano and Corona will be among the Open House venues. ACTION NOW: Watch for the Open House schedule, plan to attend and tell the Forest Service that its most important mission is conservation, not off-road-vehicle “recreation” at the expense of conservation.
Morrell Canyon/LEAPS: The Trabuco District issued a Scoping Letter to get comments on authorizing the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water Dist. to conduct subsurface geotechnical investigation of Morrell and Decker Canyons, which would provide info for the EIR for the Lake Elsinore Advanced Pumping Storage Project (LEAPS). OCCNPS commented that the Forest Service should not issue the Special Use Permit at this time, due to a number of unanswered questions about the project, its impact on the oak woodland in Morrell Canyon and the uncertainty that rare-plant surveys would be done beforehand. See www.fs.fed.us/r5/cleveland/projects/projects/index.shtml.
CalTrans and the Federal Highway Administration, in cooperation with the Forest Service, propose to implement a safety improvement project on St. Route 74, Ortega Highway, in OC. Improvements will occur in the 3-mile stretch from the old San Juan Canyon Bridge to the Riverside County line. Existing 10 to 11-foot lanes would be widened to the standard lane width of 12 feet, 4-foot shoulders would be added, improvements would be made to drainage, and intermittent turnout/rock catchment areas would be added. This effort will require the closure of the entire highway for periods of 1 to 7 days over a period of about 2 1/2 years. This will certainly impact all who use the road! Some special-status plants along the route would be affected. See www2.dot.ca.gov/dist12/sr74.htm
—Celia Kutcher, Conservation Chair
[Contact Celia at email@example.com if you can take on responsibility for monitoring an area near you]
SANTA ANA MOUNTAINS
Chapter member Laura Curran has taken on responsibility for monitoring activity in the Santa Mountains. The following is her report.
A primary issue in protecting the Trabuco District of the Cleveland National Forest these days is the Major Investment Study(MIS), which has been in progress for about one year. Santa Ana Mountain Task Force members have been attending MIS Stakeholders meetings, and it appears that the MIS staff will recommend a road over the forest, from just below Corona to the area where the 241 Toll Road intersects the 133, to the MIS Policy Committee. This road would include one or more short tunnels. SAMTF, the Sierra Club Angeles and San Gorgonio Chapters, Hills for Everyone, the Endangered Habitats League and other environmental groups are opposing the over the forest road. The SAMFT is strongly supporting the improvement of the MetroLink connection, improvements to the 91 and increased express bus service between Orange and Riverside Counties. California Native Plant Society members are asked to join in the effort to stop this road which would have a most detrimental effect on the plant life in the affected area of the Santa Ana Mountains, by contacting local (Orange County Board of Supervisors and Council members), state and federal officials to express their support for the Metrolink improvements and opposition to a possible road through the Santa Ana Mountains. The entire MIS situation remains fluid. ACTION NOW: The environmental community must remain alert! Contacts: firstname.lastname@example.org, Jay Matchett email@example.com, Paul Carlton firstname.lastname@example.org Gene Frick email@example.com Also see www.octa.net/freeway/ocrmis/home.asp
.A Child Coming of Age…
Golden West College Native Garden nearing completion
It struck me once again while speaking to the group who assembled for the OC-CNPS tour of the Garden June 16th; it’s hard to be objective when viewing or talking about the Garden at Golden West College. Rod Wallbank and I have been involved in its creation for so long that it’s like talking about one of your children-you are inordinately proud of their accomplishments and oh so sensitive to their faults.
The birth of the GWC Native Garden occured in 1975 as a request from the Math/Science department for an outdoor laboratory for the Botany, Environmental Studies, and Biology classes. After a start on research and very limited planting, Proposition 13 hit and the budget was removed and it has been that way ever since—no funding to speak of. Through private donations and gifts, the Garden has become that outdoor classroom and lab the science classes wanted and it is becoming something even more. Rather than a collection of native plants thrown together on a third of an acre, the Garden was expanded to almost one and a half acres. Instead of the originally planned wooden amphitheater, a fine stone one was completed. The glass house was expanded to include a lath house and potting shed. The southern portion includes a pad for Astronomy classes with outlets for the electric telescopes. Walkways allow for easy strolling and enjoyment of the Garden while benches invite a pause. And then there are the plants.
The Garden’s early childhood was full of developments and challenges. A good design smoothed the way for future growth since the garden was arranged with plant communities as the basic building blocks. We have Chaparral, Coastal Sage Scrub, South Oak Woodland, Redwood Forest, Mixed Evergreen Forest, and Foothill Woodland. We even have a Channel Island section and riparian plants sprinkled around. That’s a lot to fit in 10 acres let alone our relatively tiny area. (It does NOT seem tiny when weeding though!) Many of the plants are approaching a mature size and even the younger plants provide habitat. A moment in the garden during early morning hours allows a quiet visitor the chance to see dozens of various birds. Later when the sun is out butterflies are sipping nectar. Take a random leaf from the Coast Live Oak and look at the underside and you will likely see some form of insect life. The whole Garden is alive and is still growing.
The Garden is not on restriction, but is only open to Golden West College classes and their students; it is not actually open to the public except by the rare organized tour. Basically it is a liability issue with uneven pathways of compacted soil not yet completed with a topping of decomposed granite. Also there is the need for steps to be created in particular situations as well as the meeting of ADA requirements with acceptable inclines (and declines) for wheelchair access through much of the Garden. Besides these hardscape features there is the need for the identifying signage to be increased and corrected, the hot house to be refurbished, entry gate constructed and installed, and of course, we need to finish planting!
As the Garden reaches maturity, the good news is that although in the past it has limped along on the good will of friends, a very limited budget donated by friends and supporters, as well as the blood, sweat, and tears of Rod and myself (and whatever volunteers we could coerce into helping—thank you, OC-CNPS!) we are approaching a period when administrators for the college will be beginning a serious fund drive and seek to finish the Garden. It will be a lot of work but the Garden should be open to the public by Fall of 2006 to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the college itself. Besides being physically completed (although we all know that a garden is never actually done) the future plans for the Garden include a docent program (utilizing college and community volunteers) to give educational tours of the Garden, a Garden website with detailed information not found on the physical site, as well as evening music programs, programs dealing specifically with native American uses for the plants found in the Garden, and much more. The child will be ready for the real world!
So, besides sharing the good news why am I bringing this up? Money. Yep, we need funding and it seems that people who care about native plants would be the sort who would wish to contribute. And its good to know that the money contributed goes towards the projects and plants NOT to salaries or other costs. In short, the money will be well used directly in the Garden. So, whether $10 or a $1,000, please send you’re completely tax deductible checks to:
Golden West College Foundation
California Native Garden Fund
15744 Golden West Street
Huntington Beach, CA 92647-2748
Questions? Call Dan Songster at 949/768-0431 or Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
FIELD TRIPS—check around…
We have no further field trips scheduled, but if you are traveling in California this summer, check cnps.org for field trips offered by other chapters. You just might find a coincidental excursion in the region you’re visiting. Doing botany with other chapters on their turf is a delight. There are new plants to see and the company feels like old friends.
Your input on field trips is warmly encouraged. Just contact the Field Trip Chair, Sarah Jayne, at email@example.com with your ideas and suggestions.
A true Weed Gladiator–Bill Neill
Excerpts from Bill’s most recent report: “Yesterday (June 27) I worked 7 hours at Caspers Wilderness Park, raising to 27 hours my volunteer contribution this year at Caspers. I completed two of my objectivbes by foliar spraying two dense Arundo stands that were not accessible during lateApril due to high water levels in San Juan Creek….Also I basal sprayed castor bean at several locations upstream from the bridge and along the highway. Since June 2003 I estimate that I’ve treated, initially or completely, between 4 and 6 acres of Arundo, dispersed along 4 miles of riparian corridor and floodplain. This work has required about $900 of Stalker herbicide, paid for the Caspers Park Preservation Foundation….So far this year, I’ve applied more herbicide at Caspers Park than during 2003 and 2004 combined, because I’ve wanted to take advantage of the lush Arundo foliage that has sprouted following last winter’s abundant rainfall….”
Thank you, Bill
Our chapter has also supported Bill’s invaluable assaults on invasive aliens.
UCI Arboretum: Still Weeding!
Join our doughty Weed Warriors on Thursdays, 9:30-1:30, as we continue to attack this year’s bumper weed crop in UCI Arboretum’s California Native Collection. Beat the heat—you can start weeding at 8 AM. Every weed removed before it goes to seed means 10,000 fewer weeds next year! Hat, gloves, water, sturdy work shoes, and sunscreen are advised; bring your favorite weeding implements if possible.
Directions: from 405, go south on Jamboree to Campus Dr. Turn left on Campus, then immediately right on the unnamed campus service road. Turn left into the Arboretum gate, park free on the gravel behind the greenhouse.
Chris Barnhill welcomes you to come anytime to work in the native plant section of the Fullerton Arboretum. www.arboretum.fullerton.edu/
The Laguna Coast Wilderness Park Nursery
Robert Lawson, Volunteer Nursery Manager
Shipley Nature Center
For directions and information visit www.fsnc.org.
Santa Ana Park Naturalist Programs Calendar
To volunteer or request information, please call 714.571.4288 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Bolsa Chica Stewards
We are at the reserve every 3rd Saturday of the month – rain or shine – from 9:00 till noon. From October through April we focus on planting hundreds of natives, and during the summer months we tend to the new plants and do other projects on the mesa. Anyone interested who would like more information is welcome to call Kim Kolpin at (714) 717-6304 or Kolpin@Stanford.edu
LOCAL PARKS AND NATURE PRESERVES
Crystal Cove State Park
Guided Backcountry Walks take place every Saturday and Sunday. Meet at 9 AM at the El Moro Visitor Center. Parking is $10. Plant walk 3rd Saturday of the month.
The Donna O’Neill Land Conservancy
For information about events, reservations, and directions, contact Laura Cohen or Michelle Thames at 949-489-9778. Visit the website at www.TheConservancy.org
Laguna Coast Wilderness:
The park is open on Saturday and Sunday from 7:30 AM to 4 PM. Maps are provided for self-guided tours. Special topic docent-led tours are offered periodically. Parking is $3. Call 949.494.9352, for more information. Website: lagunacanyon.org
Irvine Ranch Land Reserve
For walks in the Northern and Southern Reserves call The Nature Conservancy at (949) 832-7478.
Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park:
The Orange County Natural History Museum is located at the entrance to the park. Call (949) 831-2790 for more information.
Thomas Riley Regional Park:
For more information call (949) 728-3420.
Field Trip Report: Adventures of a Couch Potato
—Joan R. Hampton (with Dan Songster and Celia Kutcher)
Lower San Juan Trail, June 18, 2005
This has been an unparalled season with respect to the richness and diversity of wildflowers seen on our field trips. On this latest, excellent outing, participants consisted of four OC CNPS board members (Sarah Jayne, Celia Kutcher, Dan Songster and me), San Diego CNPS Vice-President Dave Flietner, and an out-of-town visitor.
Sad to say, San Juan Trail is an egregious example of the erosion that bicycles can cause. This narrow mountain trail is gloriously rich in wildflowers, but most of it consists of twelve-inch-deep ruts the width of a hiking boot, caused by speeding cyclists. This forces hikers to walk heel-to-toe. When bikers come by, hikers must crowd to the side of the trail to let them pass, which is challenging in narrow areas, especially where there is a drop-off, or where poison oak is present. Many of the bikers were courteous enough to get off and walk their bikes past us, but others went whizzing on by, putting us in danger.*
Prior to the construction of Ortega Highway, routes through this area were used by horseback riders to cross the Santa Ana Mountains between what are now Orange and Riverside Counties. The trail was a first for me, but not for our chapter. Past President Dan Songster describes the previous field trip:
“We did the full eleven-mile route from the top all the way to the bottom, with some of our cars left at the bottom to shuttle us back to the top. The result? A great day of hiking through virtually untouched wonders, including the chaparral pea (Pickeringia montana), and groves filled with the lovely white tear-drop-shaped flowers of storax (Styrax officinalis) in full bloom. The problem with that trip was that we were running out of time and darkness was descending when we neared the end. We practically had to run down (yes run) the switchbacks to the cars at the bottom. On the way down we were passing all these great wildflowers and had no time to stop. What was even worse: I had run out of film! Let me repeat I HAD RUN OUT OF FILM!!! Man, no film and all these treasures with the light dropping. The golden glow from that late afternoon sun was just right for taking perfect slides—but no film! Afterwards, I brewed on that for a couple of years, and when I asked Sarah if she thought we could do a short trip from the bottom side up to see all the stuff we were forced to run past the last time she agreed.”
On this trip our “bottom side up” route went UP and UP and UP and UP—then DOWN and DOWN and DOWN. Like all militant members of the Couch Potato fraternity, I am not a fan of uphill ascents, but this one was very gradual, consisting of countless switchbacks. The wildflower photo ops were so plentiful that I had ample opportunity to stop and catch my breath. Views over the Santa Ana mountains were spectacular. The weather was ideal; sunny, but with plenty of gentle, cooling breezes.
We were thrilled by the abundance of Weed’s mariposa lily (Calochortus weedii). After snapping countless pictures of one beautiful specimen after another, I had to cut myself off to save film for other treasures further up the hill. Even more abundant were the vivid pink blooms of Canchalagua (Centaurium venustum), a member of the Gentian family. We even found clusters of them in white and a delicate pink. Another treat was the stands of Kellogg’s snapdragon (Antirrhinum kelloggii), whose color varied from a delicate pink to lilac. The mix of colors from varied species rivaled the gaudiest domestic garden. Celia describes “…the vivid red-orange of heart-leaved penstemon (Keckiella cordifòlia) in full bloom, mixed with creamy-golden mimulus, chrome-yellow golden yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum) and many others, growing together in a glorious native flower garden. These were accented by a carpet of brilliant magenta Turkish rugging (Chorizanthe staticoides)—so bright that we could see large patches of it on the opposite canyon walls, and numerous swaths of intense blue-violet sapphire woolly star (Eriastrum sapphirinum), soft lavender false-gilia (Allophyllum glutinosum), a bumper crop of holly-leaved redberry (Rhamnus ilicifolia) fruits and more.”
On the return trip, the deeply-rutted trail, frequent side-slopes and sandy soil made the descent treacherous and frightening—at least for me. During that entire time, I clutched the handle on Dan’s backpack, which (he claimed) had been sewn there especially for my use.
In addition to the pictures I shot, I have another lovely souvenir of the trip: an artful cluster of minute blisters on the back of one hand. But it was well worth it.
|The Couch Potato rating for this trip (based on the difficult descent):|
Indian Milkweed – Asclepias eriocarpa
Turkish Rugging – Chorizanthe staticoides
*All trail use whether by tire, hoof, or boot, causes erosion. The problem lies in trail misuse such as the case with skidding, cutting switchbacks or riding and hiking too soon after rain. It is our (SHARE’s) goal to fight the problem of eroded trails though trail maintenance and even more importantly through trail user education. I encourage all those who love our trails as much as I do to support trail advocacy by getting involved with and supporting organizations like SHARE, Trails4All, The Warrior’s Society, and the Sierra Club Mountain Bike Association.
—Robin Lemond, SHARE
OC CNPS Online Store NEW ITEMS!
[The Online Store was always intended as a humor piece. None of the items described actually exist though in some cases, wouldn’t it be nice.]
Pocket Electron Microscope
Remember how easy it used to be to identify plants? All you needed was a complete specimen, a hand lens and a copy of Jepson. Unfortunately that is no longer enough, now that the taxonomists have reclassified flowering plants based on DNA, seeds, embryos, and other microscopic structures. Where does that leave you, when you are limited to yesterday’s tools?
Until now, universities and large corporations were the only ones who could afford to buy electron microscopes, or to provide the resources to house them. But now, advances in modern technology have enabled an enterprising company to design an affordable, lightweight, portable model, perfect for hikers.
The OC CNPS Online Store has been designated the sole Orange County distributor of the NanoTech Pocket Electron Microscope™. Don’t confuse this precision instrument with optical microscopes, limited to magnifications below 1,000X. The magnification range of the NanoTech extends from 500X to a true 500,000X. Use it to examine surface texture, particle structure or molecular alignment in plants and other natural objects. The enhanced black-and-white images can be viewed optically or saved to a memory card for transfer to your computer. The rechargeable battery has a twelve-hour life span, enough for most hikes.
The NanoTech comes with carrying case, instruction manual, recharging unit and AC adaptor. Parts and labor are fully covered by the manufacturer’s ten-year warranty. Also included is a manual describing science experiments that you and your family can conduct using the electron microscope.
SunGrabber Power Vest
Has this ever happened to you? Imagine that you took a precious week off to go camping with your family—only to have your equipment quit working because of dead batteries. Where would you be without your Little Docent Audio Tour Receiver, TrailPac PortaProfessor, XM Satellite Radio Receiver or your NanoTech Pocket Electron Microscope? How would your children behave if they really had to rough it? The same thing could even happen during a day hike if you forgot to recharge your appliances after the previous outing.
Dead batteries can now be a thing of the past with the SunGrabber Power Vest. Woven from silicon fabric—a semiconductor—the entire outer surface of this stylish, attractive vest acts as a photovoltaic cell, converting sunlight into electricity. The Power Vest comes with a complete set of universal adaptors and converters, so that it can be used in foreign countries or with any battery-operated appliance. Designed for conventional use as well, the Power Vest is equipped with fifteen deep pockets for holding your gear, including four hidden ones on the inner side for credit cards or personal items. Each pocket is equipped with Velcro, a heavy-duty zipper, or a flap to ensure that nothing falls out. The Power Vest is hand-washable in cold water—but only at night.
Visit the OC CNPS Online Store and check out our other products at www.occnps.org. Click the Online Store link at the left.