Newsletter 2005 May – June

California Native Plant Society

Orange County Chapter

May/June 2005


CNPS 40th Anniversary Celebration…

The June Chapter Council meeting will also be a celebration of the 40th Anniversary of CNPS. It will take place June 10 – 12 at the Sierra Friends Conference Center near Nevada City. This lovely facility covers over 200 acres of Sierra foothill landscapes. There will be activities and evening programs and the opportunity to mingle with members of other chapters. Bring the family, enjoy the scenery—only chapter representatives have to attend the meetings (that’s me). I hope you will consider joining this celebration of 40 years of conservation, dedication, and volunteerism. More information will be available in mid-May.

Sarah Jayne, president

Conservation Report
Field Trips
UCI Arboretum
Other Opportunities
Local Walks
Feature Article: Otay Mountain field trip

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Calendar of Events

May 5……………………….. Board Meeting

May 7……………………………… Lichen FT

May 7………………………. Celebrate LCW

May 14-15….. Vegetation Survey Training

May 19………………… Plant ID Workshop

Jun 9 (note change)………. Board Meeting

June10-12………….. Chapter Council Mtng

Jun 16………………. Garden Stroll at GWC

Jun 18…………… Lower San Juan Trail FT

Thursdays, 10-1………….. UCI Arboretum

Any day, 8:30-noon…………. Fullerton Arb

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.
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.

Board meetings take place at 7 PM on the the first Thursday of the month (except June). If you would like to attend or have matters of concern that you would like the board to discuss, please contact or write to our P.O. box.



Thanks to all who helped out on a lovely April 9 at Tree of Life Nursery. Sales were vigorous; many happy California native plants went to new homes in Southern California gardens. We thank Mike Evans and the retail folks at the nursery for the opportunity to help put good plants in good hands.


May 19 (Thursday)—What’s Happening to the Scrophs? A Plant ID Workshop

We thought we knew the Scrophulariaceae—until they disappeared. Because of recent discoveries in plant evolution, nearly all the plants in this family have been reclassified. Learn more about the structure, classification, pollination “firewalls,” and the nasty, predatory habits of this fascinating family.

This will be an informal meeting, gathered around tables looking at flowers. What could be more pleasant? If you have a hand lens, bring it along. We will provide an assortment of books, plant material, a microscope and other such goodies.

June 16 (Thursday)—Twilight Tour of the Goldenwest College California Native Plant Garden with Dan Songster

The long evenings of June provide a wonderful opportunity for a stroll through Dan’s garden. 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 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.

By mid-June, the spring annuals will be long gone, but the trees, shrubs, and perennials are always evolving. Young plants grow, old plants die and are replaced by young plants. Trees mature, bulbs acclimate, annuals re-seed, perennials naturalize. By revisiting a garden each year, the subtle changes become a kind of discovery and surprise. Enjoy light refreshments as we wind our way through this collection of textures, fragrances, and colors. The tour will start at 7 PM sharp in order to maximize the daylight.

Directions: Golden West College is located at 15744 Golden West Street, Huntington Beach. To get there, take Beach Blvd. north off the 405 Freeway. Immediately turn left on McFadden. Follow McFadden to Golden West Street and turn left again. Take the first legal left turn off Golden West into the parking lot and drive across it toward the Automotive Technology Building. Parking will be “citation free” after 6 PM. (Do not park in Staff slots, however.) Follow signs to the garden.


VEGETATION SURVEY TRAINING, MAY 14-15—Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve

Learn how to conduct a vegetation survey using CNPS’ preferred protocols at a weekend at Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve (SMER) near Fallbrook. Julie Evens, statewide Senior Vegetation Ecologist for CNPS, will be providing the training for members from OC, Riverside and San Diego chapters. We will focus on the releve (pronounced REH-leh-vay) survey method in hands-on field training both days.

For an idea of what to expect from this training, read the overview of CNPS vegetation trainings (a 3 page PDF file; the third page has especially useful information) at Click on “2005 Chapter Trainings” and on the links to the summary of the vegetation program of CNPS and the description of the releve method.

The training weekend is free to CNPS members (except for food—more on that below), although donations are always welcome to help offset the trainer’s travel costs (she comes to us from Sacramento). It’s $35 for non-members, which essentially pays for your membership and brings with it all the advantages of CNPS membership. The $35 can be paid directly at the training, please bring a check payable to CNPS.

Caveat: if you attend the training, we ask that you participate in at least two further vegetation surveys over the coming year. These will typically be scheduled on a weekend day.

There is a maximum of 25 participants total from the three chapters, so sign up immediately!

Plan to arrive about 8:30 AM on Saturday. Training will be from 9 AM to 4:30 PM on Saturday and until 4 PM on Sunday—though you can leave earlier if necessary. You can also come for just Saturday’s training.

The research facility at SMER has four dormitory rooms with 12 beds, and additional camping space outside. We will have a central commissary for a simple Saturday dinner and Sunday breakfast. We will be in the field at lunchtime, so bring your favorite “trail food” for Saturday and Sunday. To sign up, contact Katie Barrows, or (760) 564-2413. Please indicate if you will be staying overnight, your preference for sleeping indoors or camping, and if you have special dietary needs. Directions, schedule, and a “what to bring” list with food cost will be emailed the week before the training.



GENERAL ISSUES: Right now, many threats to the environment are being 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;
  • Senator Diane Feinstein 202-224-3841, fax 202-228-3954;
  • Your Representative (find at
  • U.S. Capitol Switchboard: (202) 225-3121.


The Endangered Species Act (ESA), passed in 1973, is a safety net for plants and wildlife that are on the brink of extinction. Because of the strength of this landmark law, ESA’s history has been filled with controversy. Over the past decade, ESA’s Congressional opponents 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 for plants and wildlife. The current Administration is seeking to weaken ESA’s implementing regulations and starve 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, for info and sample letters on two important current threats:

PLANTS, WILDLIFE AND COMMUNITIES ALONG OUR BORDERS: H.R. 418, The REAL ID Act, is an amendment to Congress’ final Iraq war and tsunami relief funding bill. HR 418 would give one person, the politically-appointed Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, unprecedented exemptions from every law on the books, including ESA and other environmental laws, when constructing roads, fences, walls, and other barriers along America’s nearly 7,500 miles of borders. This would endanger both natural habitats and people living near America’s borders. It’s also an attack on our right to know what our government is doing.

H.R. 418 has been presented as applying only to the Border Fence project in San Diego, which was rejected in 2004 by the Calif. Coastal Commission as too environmentally destructive. However, section 102(c)(1) of the bill could be used to waive laws not only along, but “in the vicinity of,” U.S. borders with both Mexico and Canada. This would threaten national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, wilderness areas and other environmentally sensitive areas all along our borders. The bill also makes the Secretary’s decision to waive laws unreviewable by any court, places the Department above the law and denies Americans the right to seek remedies for damage caused by the government’s borderland activities. Border construction has already done extensive environmental damage in many areas; the potential for increased damage would skyrocket if all environmental protections were waived. ACTION NOW: Call your Congresspersons today and urge them to oppose the addition of H.R. 418, The REAL ID Act, to the final supplemental appropriations bill.

ANTI-ESA BILL: Recently, Rep. Dennis Cardoza introduced his deceptively-named “Critical Habitat Enhancement Act,” H.R. 1299. The bill would actually weaken protections for endangered species and habitat. It would create a series of loopholes, unattainable standards, and hollow duties that would eliminate crucial habitat protections. It is not an enhancement bill, it’s a destruction bill. ACTION NOW: tell your Representative to support ESA and to oppose H.R. 1299,

the Critical Habitat Enhancement Act, and any bill that would weaken protections for endangered species and habitats.

LAND DONATIONS FOR CONSERVATION SEVERELY THREATENED: Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation has recommended severe limits to the deductions conservation-minded landowners can take for donating a conservation easement. This is a real threat to one of the main ways that conservation dollars can be stretched to preserve natural habitats. Many land trusts would be crippled by this rule. Fact sheet and sample letter at ACTION NOW: tell your Congresspersons that the JCT’s recommendations will severely limit preservation of Orange County’s remaining natural areas.


ALISO-WOODS AREA: See for the latest.

BOLSA CHICA: The Coastal Commission approved Hearthside Homes’ Brightwater project for 349 single-family lots on 105.3 acres on the upper Bolsa Chica mesa. See

CHINO/PUENTE HILLS: Thanks to legislation sponsored by Congresswoman Hilda Solis, the National Park Service is studying the feasibility and appropriateness of establishing a National Recreation Area in the San Gabriel Watershed and Mountains. This includes the Chino/Puente Hills. Community meetings are now underway. If the area is deemed appropriate, there is opportunity for federal funding to save land. See

The City of Brea has lost its lawsuit against the City of Industry re Industry’s acquisition of the mouth of Tonner Canyon in Brea’s Sphere of Influence; the decision may be appealed. See (spiffy new website).

CRYSTAL COVE: Good news! Assemblyman Chuck Devore did not have enough votes in the Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee, so has pulled his two bills, AB 328 and 329. The bills would have extended for thirty more years the private residential use of the El Morro portion of Crystal Cove State Park. Stay tuned, as DeVore is likely to try another tactic. Contact:

DANA POINT HEADLANDS: A Temporary Restraining Order, to forestall removing Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area (ESHA) for the Headlands Development and Conservation Plan, was denied by the court on procedural grounds. As soon as the TRO was denied, clearing began of the 11.29 acres of ESHA allowed to be removed for the project and was mostly complete by the end of that day. About 38 acres of ESHA will be preserved on the site, but what was removed was some of the best ESHA/CSS there. A hearing for a preliminary injunction, based on the project’s multiple Coastal Act violations, will be heard on May 25.

Contributions to support the lawsuit may be made to Surfrider Foundation South Orange County Chapter Save Strands Fund, PO Box 865, San Clemente, CA 92672, and will be much appreciated. The Dana Point Headlands Action Group coalition has devised an alternative plan, the “Dana Point Headlands Nature Park,” which keeps the site as all publicly accessible open space; contact to see it.

EAST ORANGE HILLS: See for details, maps and how to help oppose the Irvine Company’s plans for a large development adjacent to Irvine Lake.

RANCHO MISSION VIEJO/SAN MATEO CREEK: A mandatory settlement conference, as required by CEQA, has taken place, and a judge has been selected and a briefing schedule adopted in the lawsuit filed by Endangered Habitats League, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sea and Sage Audubon Society, Laguna Greenbelt, and Sierra Club, challenging the County Board of Supervisors’ approval of the proposed development of Rancho Mission Viejo. 14,000 dwelling units plus commercial space would be located on about 23,000 acres in one of the most environmentally sensitive areas in California. Donations toward appeal expenses are 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.

Regretfully and after much soul-searching, OCCNPS has decided that our chapter is not strong enough to pursue an amicus brief for the Rancho Mission Viejo lawsuit. We will explore how best to work in other ways for preservation of Rancho lands.

San Mateo Creek is one of southern California’s last relatively unspoiled watersheds and home to endangered steelhead trout. Seven archeological sites, including Panhe, a major Agchachemen (Juaneño) village, lie along its lower reaches. San Mateo Campground, a unit of San Onofre State Beach, is also there; it provides rare, affordable, coastal camping and recreation opportunities to all Californians. The creek ends in a large fresh-water marsh (a rare habitat in southern California) and Trestles Beach, a world-famous surf spot. All this is protected by being a part of the State Beach.

San Mateo Creek’s lower reaches, and everything found there, are threatened by the southern extension of SR-241, a proposed multi-lane toll road that would run down the creek’s valley to a massive interchange with I-5 just inland from Trestles. The California Department of Parks and Recreation has stated that no land in the region can compensate the public for the potential losses at San Onofre/San Mateo if the road is built. ACTION NOW: go to to tell Bobby Shriver, Chair of the State Parks and Recreation Commission, that San Onofre/San Mateo must not be despoiled by the toll road. Or write Chairman Shriver at P.O. Box 942896, Sacramento, CA 94296.

SADDLEBACK CANYONS: On April 19, the Appellate Court heard the environmental coalition’s appeal of theCounty’s approval of the Saddle Creek and Saddle Crest developments. The judges’ decision is expected in 90 days. OCCNPS is part of the environmental coalition. Contributions to legal expenses may be made to Saddleback Canyons Conservancy, PO Box 714, Trabuco Canyon, CA 92678.

SAN DIEGO CREEK: Contact for the latest.

SANTA ANA RIVER: Four alternative plans for Banning Ranch, a relatively still-natural area near the mouth of the Santa Ana River, are being considered by the City of Newport Beach’s General Plan Advisory Committee (GPAC). Three of these plans would result in development, the fourth would create an open space and wildlife preserve. Two GPAC meetings remain in the current series: 5/9 and 5/16, 7-9 PM at the Oasis Senior Center, 5th and Marguerite, Corona del Mar. A public comment period is usually held at the end of each meeting; best to keep comments very brief and to-the-point. See: http//

TRABUCO DISTRICT, CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST: Public meetings on the new Forest Management Plan for Cleveland Nat’l Forest will be presented by the Forest Service:

May 11 (Tuesday), 6:00-8:30 PM, Corona Public Library, 650 S. Main St., Corona, CA.

May 15 (Saturday), 10:00 AM-1:00 PM, San Juan Capistrano Community Hall, 25925 Camino Del Avion, San Juan Capistrano, CA.

The meetings are an important step in development of the plans that will govern the District (and all the four Southern California Forests) for the next decade and more. Alternative 6 is the most environment-friendly. See .

On our field trip to Morrell Canyon on April 30, we saw the beautiful, well-established oak woodland that would be removed and flooded by the LEAPS project and are now even more opposed to the project. (See Laura Curran’s report)

—Celia Kutcher, Conservation Chair

[Contact Celia at if you can take on responsibility for monitoring an area near you]

Views of Morrell Canyon and the approximate location of the pipe line from Lake Elsinore.


Chapter member Laura Curran has taken on responsibility for monitoring activity in the Santa Mountains. The following is her report.

The Santa Ana Mountains Task Force, led by Paul Carlton and Wilderness Chair Ulrike Luderer is working on several initiatives to help maintain habitat, which in turn protects local native plants.

For more information, visit:

SAM Threats and Initiatives

  1. SAMTF volunteers have been collecting signatures on a petition asking the Orange County Board of Supervisors to support Wilderness designation for three roadless areas in the Trabuco District of the Cleveland National Forest, Ladd, Coldwater, and Morrell Canyons. The petition drive culminated in a presentation to the Orange County Board of Supervisors at their weekly Board meeting on Tuesday, March 22, and a request for their support.

OC residents can write to key individuals who can help make the Wilderness Designation a reality: Tina Terrell, the Cleveland National Forest Supervisor, California US Senators, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein,

US Representatives whose Districts border on the Cleveland National Forest: Christopher Cox, Ken Calvert, and Gary Miller. If you are a SAMTF supporter who lives in Orange County, please take this opportunity to call or write your Supervisor asking them to support the SAMTFproposed wilderness areas in the Cleveland National Forest and to send the requested letters. The address is 10 Civic Center Plaza, Santa Ana, CA 92701. Phone: 714-834-3100

  1. The push by Riverside County officials to select and build a highway or highway/tunnel through the Trabuco District. We support the Orange County Transportation Authority’s recent decision to concentrate on maximizing use of the 91 Freeway and the concept of light rail between Orange County and Riverside County. SAMFT is working on widespread citizen and political support to oppose the Riverside plan.
  2. A plan is underway to build a hydropower plant and 150-acre reservoir in upper Morrell Canyon in the Forest. This area is really pristine and has a large grove of native oak trees. It also would be immediately adjacent to the San Mateo Wilderness Area and visually impact the Wilderness. The plans have also included a proposal to build an electric power transmission line through the Forest.
    If you would like to see the Santa Ana Mountains flowers close up, try trail maintenance or hiking in the SAMs with the Sierra Club.

Visit for hike listings for the Santa Ana Mountains.


May 21 Sat Sierra Sage, Santa Ana Mtn TF O: Bear Canyon Trail: 7 mi rt, 1000’ gain. A moderately paced hike from the Candy Store up the Bear Cyn Trail to Four Corners and return via Verdugo Rd and Bear Cyn Trail. Short report on SAMTF activities. Meet 8:30 am S OC rideshare pt with water, lunch, lugsoles. Rain cancels. Ldr: Bob Hansen. Asst: Chet Stipe Rideshare Locations: No Orange County (NOC): Park-NRide, E side of Tustin Ave just S of Lincoln Ave, Orange. So Orange County (SOC): Ortega Business Center parking lot, SE corner Ortega Hwy/Rancho Viejo (one block E of I-5), San Juan Capistrano Tustin: Redhill Ave on N side (fwy)

For more information contact:

Paul Carlton 949-661-9505, e-mail
Jay Matchett 714-730-7730, e-mail
Gene Frick (909- 609-0997), email




Saturday, May 7—Lichen Hunting in the Santa Ana Mountains
Lichenologist Kerry Knudson will lead us on a search for lichen in the area around Blue Jay Campground. If you went on our last lichen trip, you’ll know that while not strenuous, this activity requires a lot of down on the knees work. Kerry is impressively knowledgeable and very interesting on the subject of lichens. We’ll meet at 9 AM in the dirt lot at the entrance to Blue Jay Campground. Adventure Pass is required unless paying to park inside the campground. [Little know facts: the Adventure Pass is not required on the last Saturday of the month!]

Directions: From I-5, take the Ortega Hwy (74) almost to the top. Look for Long Canyon Road (6S05) on the left and proceed to the campground. Or continue on to the Main Divide Truck Trail, turn left, and continue to the campground.

Friday – Sunday, May 13-15—Sierra Spring

The Bristlecone Chapter will hold its 8th Biennial Sierra Spring Sojourn on May 13-15, 2005, at the Bernasconi Center in Big Pine. The Sojourn is a weekend of field trips and evening programs focusing on the flora of the White Mountains, Owens Valley and east side of the Sierra Nevada. Please save the date! If you would like to receive a registration pack by email when they are available in March, contact Sherryl Taylor at To receive the registration pack by mail, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Sherryl Taylor at P.O. Box 1638, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546. For more information, call 760-924-8742.

Saturday, June 18—Lower San Juan Trail
The last time we visited this particular trail was at the end of our traverse of the whole San Juan Trail, top bottom. We were on a speed run by the time got to that part. We’ll go for late spring-early summer flowers on the lower San Juan Trail. The weather might be warmish and there may be bugs so prepare for those possibilities. The trail winds up an open slope with gentle switchbacks. The pace will be relaxed.

Meet at 8:30 AM at the Ortega Business Center to carpool to the trail head. Directions: from I-5, exit on Ortega Hwy/Hwy 74, turn east (inland), then right at Rancho Viejo Rd, then left into Ortega Plaza, park in SE corner.



Just when us hard-working Thursday Weed Warriors thought we’d vanquished this year’s massive spring weed crop, late rains threaten to bring up more! Even if it doesn’t, there are still plenty of weeds to go around—and every weed removed before it goes to seed means 10,000 fewer weeds next year. Join us on Thursdays, 9:30-1:30!

Workdays may be cancelled if there’s 1/4 inch or more of rain within the previous 12 hours. If in doubt, contact Celia, 949-496-9689, by 8 AM that day. But feel free to just show up! 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.

Celebrate Laguna Coast Wilderness Park 2005 Set For May 7
Annual Event to Feature Guided and Independent Hikes and More
Hundreds of nature lovers will have the opportunity to see Laguna Canyon in full bloom at Celebrate Laguna Coast Wilderness Park 2005, Saturday, May 7 from 8 AM to 4 PM. Hikers may explore on their own or take advantage of special guided hikes offered May 7 only (reservations required). Free shuttles will leave the Willow Canyon Staging Area, 20101 Laguna Canyon Road, at 8 and 9 AM to departure points for two guided, panoramic-view hikes ending back at Willow Canyon. The 8 AM shuttle will take hikers to Irvine Ranch Land Reserve to begin a 6-mile, 3- to 4-hour trek over Serrano Ridge. The 9 AM shuttle will take hikers to Ridge Park to begin a less strenuous, 4-mile, 2.5-hour hike. Another group will meet at 8 AM at the Willow Canyon trailer for a 3.5-mile, 3-hour loop through Laurel Canyon.

For guided hikes reservations, call 949-923-2235. For information, call 949-855-7275 (PARK) or visit Rain will cancel this event.

OUTSTANDING!…Nature Photography with Steve Francis, Saturday, May 14, 8 AM – 10AM

Local nature photographer Stephen Francis will share his techniques with amateur photographers of all levels during a very special nature photography class at the Environmental Nature Center in Newport Beach. Steve’s photographs have been instrumental in bringing about significant changes in preservation policies within the southland. To learn more about Steve and view some of his photographs, visit Participants are invited to bring either digital or film cameras, and a tripod if they have one. Fee is $20 per participant. Space is very limited. Please call 949-645-8489 for a registration form.

Fullerton Arboretum

Chris Barnhill welcomes you to come anytime to work in the native plant section of the Fullerton Arboretum.

The Laguna Coast Wilderness Park Nursery

Robert Lawson, Volunteer Nursery Manager

Shipley Nature Center

For directions and information visit

Santa Ana Park Naturalist Programs Calendar

To volunteer or request information, please call 714.571.4288 or email



Crystal Cove State Park
Backcountry Plant Walks take place every Saturday and Sunday. Meet at 9 AM at the El Moro Visitor Center. Parking is $10.

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

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:

Irvine Company Open Space 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: The Couch Potato at Otay Mountain by Joan R Hampton

On a typical CNPS hike, a neophyte’s best learning aid is her elbows. The trick is to stay close to the plant expert, and to discreetly nudge anyone else (“Excuse me!”) who attempts to infringe on one’s territory.

That tactic was not necessary on our April 2 trip to Otay Mountain, because among the six of us who participated, I was the sole neophyte. In addition to Sarah Jayne and Celia Kutcher representing our chapter, we were accompanied by Harry Spilman from the San Gabriel chapter. He’s the kind of guy who loves to spend hours peering through a hand lens at miniscule anatomical parts of nondescript weeds—I think he called them “Poaceae.”

Also participating was the extraordinary Henry Eilers of the Illinois Native Plant Society. Among his many other activities, this distinguished retired nurseryman travels worldwide on botanical field trips. While not familiar with species local to our area, his encyclopedic knowledge of plant families and genera provided fresh insight into relationships among Otay Mountain flora we observed.

Some hobbies (like stamp collecting) can be enjoyed in a small area, such as the corner of a room. “Modest scope” is not the appropriate term for Expedition Leader Mark Elvin however, whose “hobby” is the flora of the San Ysidro Mountains.

Mark first visited this region in 1995, a time when it took two hours reach the summit, along a trail that can now be driven in 10-15 minutes. While searching for specimens of the rare Dunn’s mariposa lily (Calochortus dunnii), he found a number of other unique plants and fell in love with the area. Working with Andy Sanders of the UC Riverside herbarium, he discovered a previously undescribed species of mint, Jennifer’s monardella (Monardella stoneana).

From 1998 to 2002 working for the U.S. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, he surveyed the range and distribution of the Quino Checkerspot butterfly, federally-listed in San Diego County as an endangered species. Later, he went to work for a private company, because it enabled him to spend more time in the field. At present, while overseeing the arboretum and herbarium at U.C. Irvine, he works as an independent consultant. He hopes to someday publish a checklist and a flora of the San Ysidro Mountains (Otay Mountain). The count of known species for this area is closing in on the total for Orange County.

Mark’s passion for his hobby is unmistakable: what we visited was not just Otay Mountain, but Otay Mountain as seen through Mark’s eyes. He led us to hilltops with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, the international border and Tijuana. We saw areas that had been devastated by the San Diego inferno of 2003, and others, untouched by the blazes, that were rich with wildflowers.

Normally, deciduous trees would never be confused with gymnosperms, but the charcoal sculptures—all that remained of Tecate cypresses (Cupressus forbesii)—were undistinguishable from the latter in the burned areas. At about 4000 – 5000 degrees, the fire was so intense that granite rocks exploded. After a normal fire, new growth sprouts from seeds or the roots of burned tree trunks. In this case however, the fire did not just burn the trees, but burrowed down into the ground, consuming the roots and leaving holes. Mark believes that in many areas, most of the seed bank perished as a result of the intense heat. The devastation was so complete that to this day the ground resembles a moonscape, with widespread bare spots and only a fraction of the previous diversity remaining. The effects were most severe on north-facing slopes, which had not burned for at least 60 years.

Periodic fires are part of the life cycle of the native Tecate cypress, but they still require 20-30 years between blazes to mature and produce seed. The plants that were growing in the areas that burned in the 1995 fire did not have enough time to set seed before perishing in the 2003 holocaust. All of the trees on the north slope of the mountain in the devastated area are at risk of being wiped out if another fire occurs there before the new plants have time enough to reproduce.

Along with his other responsibilities, Mark is also participating in a project sponsored by the San Diego Natural History Museum to create a San Diego plant atlas. It divides the county into grids, each three miles square. The goal is to identify every plant in each grid, and to collect one specimen of each as documentation. Mark used stacks of old newspapers and field press equipment to collect and press specimens at each site we visited. While Mark’s primary task is to collect for the herbarium at UCI Irvine, he also provides additional specimens for the San Diego Natural History Museum, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, and for UCI Riverside. Harry and Henry also collected armfuls of promising specimens, which they brought to Mark for evaluation.

Spectacular flowers we saw in abundance included chaparral pea (Pickeringia montana var. tomentosa), barrel cactus (Ferocactus viridescens), fire poppy (Papaver californicum), golden ear-drops (Dicentra chrysantha), San Diego goldenstar (Muilla clevelandii), tree poppy (Dendromecon rigida), tidy tips (Layia platyglossa), windmill pink (Silene multinervia), southern pink (Silene laciniata ssp. major), colorful stands of Phacelia grandiflora, San Diego sunflower (Viguiera laciniata), pigmy stonecrop (Crassula connata), chaparral sweet pea (Lathyrus vestitus), Otay lotus (Lotus crassifolius var. otayensis), the purple onion (Allium peninsulare), two purple Antirrhinum species and many, many more.

All participants—and even the redoubtable Henry—agreed that none of us had ever seen such a great variety of blooming plant species on a single day’s outing. As the junior member of the expedition—at least with respect to botany—I watched in admiration as my companions used their formidable skills to identify the species we discovered. Foremost among us was Henry. But my respect for my local colleagues rose to new heights after I watched them botanize the plants illustrated on Henry’s Illinois NPS T-shirt. It was a humbling experience.

Botanizing Henry’s T-shirt



OC CNPS Online Store!

[The Online Store, which was to have been introduced on April 1, was always intended as a humor piece. None of the items described actually exist though in some cases, wouldn’t it be nice.]

Lichenologist Kerry Knudsen is breathing easy through his Aeolian Breeze Portable Air Purifier.
#1101—Aeolian Breeze Portable Air Purifier from Sherpa Image™ Do you look forward to getting away from the smog and grime of the city to go hiking in the clean, fresh air? Think again: that “clean” air is filled with dust, pollen, molds, spores, insect- or bird-droppings and yes—even the very same urban air pollutants you came out to escape! These impurities can aggravate respiratory problems such as allergies or asthma.
The solution is at hand, with the introduction of the powerful, lightweight Aeolian Breeze Portable Air Purifier. Unlike similar products from other companies, the Aeolian Breeze is designed especially for hikers. It comes equipped with a belt clip, air tube and non-slip nasal cannula. It can run for over eight hours on three standard AAA batteries.


#1102—Little Docent Audio Tour Receiver from Musée sans Murailles During recent outings to wilderness areas around Orange County, did you wonder about those odd little receptacles which have been mysteriously appearing on trees, fences and boulders? They represent a combined effort by federal, state, and local wildlife organizations and agencies, whose goal is to educate visitors.
Like museum-goers, visitors to wild areas will now be able to purchase hand-held audio receivers from our store, or to rent them onsite at participating parks. At designated stations along each trail, the receiver can be plugged into the receptacle for a description of interesting facts about the flora, fauna, geology or other features specific to the location. Content will be provided by the managing agency, not OC CNPS.


#1103—TrailPac PortaProfessor YOU love to go on CNPS outings, but your pre-teen would rather listen to his MP3 player or hang out at the mall. Let’s face it; counting sepals will never replace shopping for the coolest teen fashions or downloading the latest hit tunes.

The solution: let your youngster bring along his or her own handheld player, one that combines education with entertainment. The PortaProfessor base unit can be customized with a range of optional audio and video modules. Protective covers are available in designs with kid-appeal, such as pink fur and leopard skin.
New modules will gradually be added to our catalogue over the next few months, but the following ones are available immediately:

·   Exciting nature and science guides: Flowering Plants, Western Birds, Reptiles of California, Animal Tracks, Astronomy, Geology of Southern California, Mammals and the most popular title, Large Icky Bugs.

·   For girls only: Cosmetic Techniques, Fashions Tips.

·   For boys only: Hot Sports Cars and Cool Chicks.

·   ActionPac Mini-Arcade Game module with realistic, wrap-around sound (available with optional external speakers).


Naturalist Joel Robinson models the Sherpa Image Drop Cloth.
#1104—Drop Cloth™ from Sherpa Image Real life is not as dramatic as killer bee horror movies, but Africanized bees themselves are alive and well in Orange County. We are also seeing the spread of the mosquito-borne West Nile virus. One way to avoid these two hazards is to hide indoors, but that’s not why you joined CNPS, is it? Fortunately, we have a better solution: Under normal conditions, the Drop Cloth looks like—and serves as—an ordinary, wide-brimmed hat. But if you undo the hidden tabs in the underbrim, a protective but lightweight mesh curtain drops down, surrounding you on all sides. It contains sleeves, ending in flexible gloves. The see-through mesh does not impede breathing, yet provides protection against bees, hornets, wasps, mosquitoes and other flying insects. A flap at the mouth can be unsnapped for eating and drinking. An additional flap is located below the waist.

#1105—XM Satellite Radio Receivers Designed for hikers of all ages, our radio receivers will feature continuous audio feeds from Animal Planet and The Discovery Channel

#1106—Orange County Docent Calendar Use this large, attractive wall calendar to schedule your hikes and other outings. Each month, it features a different—and very buff—docent from one of Orange County’s wilderness parks, clad in an enticing tanning costume or abbreviated hiking ensemble. A brief biography is included for each docent, along with a description of his or her secret fantasy.