Newsletter 2008 January – February

California Native Plant Society

Orange County Chapter

January/February 2008


Directions to the Duck Club
Native Gardening Workshop
CNPS Rare Plants Workshop
Small Mammals Wildlife Class
Upper Newport Bay Restoration Events
Restoration Ecology Presentation
Back to Natives Schedule of Activities
Chapter Field Trip Schedule
Bill Neill’s Report from Spain

What OCCNPS did in 2007…

Between December 25 and 31, newspapers tend to contain mostly tedious repetitions of the past year’s events. Ho-hum. Every year, each CNPS chapter is asked to do just that—submit a report of the past year’s activities. The compilation of these reports is circulated at the March Chapter Council meeting. It is far from ho-hum. Activities are as varied as the size and location of the 33 chapters, ranging from stunning conservation success stories to ingenious ways to attract new members. Since many of our chapter activities are never reported in this newsletter, it will not, I hope, be a “tedious repetition” to cite a few of our accomplishments in 2007.

Public Outreach: We spent quite a few hours presenting the message of the California Native Plant Society at tables throughout the county. Green Scene at Fullerton Arboretum, though chilly, brought out lots of people, of whom many passed by and took our handouts. Seated between exotic flora at the South Coast Plaza Garden Show, we nevertheless…attracted the eye of many with our lovely bouquets of native plants. Save Water, Plant Natives! Cowa-Bunga, the theme for the 2007 Orange County Fair, didn’t tie in too much with native plants. We were placed this time next to the Ooo-Aaah Plumerias, but even the Plumeria folks complained of the lack of traffic. A few visitors were really happy to see us there though. Further spreading the word, Celia Kutcher gave presentations to several local garden clubs, which generated at least one new member for us.

Another thing we don’t talk about enough is our Grants Program. Details about the various grants that we offer are on the website under Grants. In 2007, we awarded five Acorn Grants—three for school garden projects and two for Eagle Scout projects—with awards ranging from $150 to $350. Several chapter members donated quite a bit of time consulting on some of these projects. We also awarded a $1000 Charlie O’Neill Grant for a graduate research project on the Phacelia genus.

If you haven’t visited the UCI Arboretum lately, you will observe substantial changes in the landscape when you do. The area behind the Otay Mountain section has been completely re-graded and will be planted with natives. Earlier in the year, a large section that had gone over totally to Encelia and weeds, was graded and filled to form what is, slowly, becoming Oak Mesa. There, and further up the slope toward the Grass Meadow, the UCI Work Crew has planted upwards of 200 plants. Celia Kutcher is the driving force behind this effort and the most faithful of the crew. She is assisted part of the time, but puts in many solo hours. Chuck Wembly has been very helpful. I do what I can.

Our Board Members donate many hours to keep our chapter running smoothly. Besides enduring an additional monthly meeting, each one contributes a lot of extra time. Dan Songster as Program Chair arranges all of our excellent speaker meetings and has been the book person forever. Brad Jenkins keeps tabs on our finances. Brad is also the newly elected Chapter Council Chairperson, following his two-year stint as President of the CNPS Board of Directions. Celia Kutcher devotes untold hours to the Conservation work in the county, with help from Fred Roberts and Dave Bramlet. Joan Hampton is the steward of the mailing labels and now has taken on Field Trips along with new board member Richard Schilk. Richard has also recently assumed responsibility for book sales. Laura Camp as chapter secretary prepares the minutes and acts as a liaison with Tree of Life Nursery. She also did a super job on last June’s silent auction and raffle. Nancy Heuler keeps us abreast of what’s going on with the Great Park. Dee Epley provides most of the refreshments for our meetings. Bob Allen is our video wizard, just one of his many talents. I am the Chapter Council secretary.

And thanks to all of you who have volunteered at tabling events, plant sales, and helped out lugging chairs and such at our meetings. We’re a busy lot! Coming next—job opportunities! Happy 2008 …

Sarah Jayne, Chapter President



January 3……………… Board Meeting
January 17………… Chapter Meeting
February 7…………… Board Meeting
February 16.. Nix Nature Center FT
February 21………. Chapter Meeting
March 1………… Trabuco Canyon FT
May 3……………………… Garden Tour

Weed and Seed:

Thursdays 10-1…………. UCI Arboretum

Any day, 8:30-noon……….. Fullerton Arb

2nd Saturday…………. Irvine Open Space

3rd Saturday…………………… Bolsa Chica

4th Saturday.. Upper Newport Back Bay

Chapter meetings are held at The Duck Club, Riparian View, 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 to the Duck Club:

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

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


Thursday, January 17—Designing Gardens with California Native Plants

Speaker: Alrie Middlebrook

“To own a bit of ground, to scratch it with a hoe, to plant seeds, and watch the renewal of life—this is…the most satisfactory thing a man can do.”

Charles Dudley Warner, My Summer in a Garden, 1870

How can we promote sustainability with our own gardens? Award-winning landscape designer Alrie Middlebrook creates native plant gardens with sustainability in mind, using less water and fossil fuels while taking advantage of California’s natural beauty. She will share her insights on native gardens and their impact on our community and environment, and will show appropriate plants for your native garden in the context of artful design and big-picture sustainability.

Alrie Middlebrook is founder and president of Middlebrook Gardens, which is a specialty landscaping design/build company founded in 1980 that focuses on creating sustainable gardens using native California plants. Alrie and the Middlebrook Gardens staff have designed and built over 100 California native gardens. She has self-published Eating California, a cookbook filled with recipes created by Bay Area chefs featuring California’s native edible plants.

Her current book is co-authored with Dr. Glenn Keator, a field botanist and the author of numerous books on California native plants, including Complete Garden Guide to the Native Perennials of California and Complete Garden Guide to the Native Shrubs of California.

Designing California Native Gardens, the Plant Community Approach to Artful, Ecological Gardens is a book of information and inspiration for all who garden with natives! We will be selling the books before and after the talk and Alrie has agreed to sign your copy.

“What a man needs in gardening is a cast-iron back, with a hinge in it.”Ibid



Thursday, February 21—Lester Rowntree: A Native Plant Pioneer

Speaker: Rosemary Foster

Well before many of us were born, British-born botanist adventurer Lester Rowntree traveled for many years up and down California by car, foot, and burro. Lester’s interest in California and in horticulture started early and grew throughout her 100-year life. The major portion of her explorations and writing did not take place until she was 50 years old. During her long and exciting career she sought out and discovered garden-worthy native plants, collected seeds, propagated them, and provided them to the public.

She was named Honorary President of the California Native Plant Society at its founding in recognition of her efforts on behalf of California’s native flora. To quote the publication Four Seasons in 1965, Lester is “…the undisputed, reigning royalty of our native plant world. Her books Hardy Californians and Flowering Shrubs of California were published when the culture of our natives was in its dark ages. They are still the signposts where our inspirational knowledge of California’s flowered earth begins. She has never ceased to preach the beauty and fragile vulnerability of our floral treasures before the senseless, onrushing power of progress, and our terrible need to save them—and ourselves—while and if we can.”

Learn more about this fascinating woman’s life as a pioneer of California native plant exploration, discovery, cultivation and promotion.

Our speaker is Rosemary Foster, the editor of a new edition of Rowntree’s classic work, Hardy Californians. Rosemary is a long-time member of CNPS, past president and current Chapter Council representative of the Monterey Bay Chapter. She is a landscape designer and horticultural consultant in Carmel, California, and specializes in native plant landscaping. In the 1980s, she studied horticulture and botany at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and it was there she decided to compile a bibliography of Lester’s journal and magazine articles, little realizing the magnitude of the task she had undertaken. For the past twenty years, she has been researching the life and works of Lester Rowntree, and her 720-entry bibliography of Rowntree’s periodical articles was recently published by UC Press in a reprint of Rowntree’s Hardy Californians. She is currently editing a compilation of Lester Rowntree’s articles on gardening with California native plants for publication by CNPS. She is also conducting the research for a biography of Lester.

Hardy Californians will be available for sale at the meeting.

Perhaps Rosemary will sign this engaging and much needed reprint for you!



SAN MATEO CREEK: Showdown time for the Toll Road, one of So Cal’s most important environmental battles!

The California Coastal Commission is scheduled to hear the proposed 241 toll road extension (aka Foothill-South or FT-S) in February. This hearing is one of the most important steps in the effort to stop the FT-S from ramming through Cristianitos and lower San Mateo Canyons. This route would despoil the integrity of the still-wild San Mateo Creek watershed and the endangered species and habitats therein, render San Mateo Campground unusable, and affect the surf at Trestles. The meeting will be in San Diego, exact date and location TBA; the agenda will be posted at around Jan. 25. The FT-S proposal had been scheduled for a Commission hearing last October but was postponed when the project proponent, the Transportation Corridor Agency (TCA), said it “needed more time to examine the Coastal Commission staff report.” The staff report (downloadable at, item 19a, 1.2 MB) states clearly and at detailed length that the road as proposed cannot possibly be done in an environmentally conscious way, that no amount of mitigation can be done to offset the environmental damage the proposed route would do, and that the TCA did not realistically investigate alternative routes. The report gives ample backup to the staff’s recommendation that the Commission NOT CONCUR that the project is consistent with the California Coastal Management Program, and to APPROVE a resolution to object to the Consistency Certification on the grounds that the FT-S is inconsistent with the CCMP’s enforceable policies.

ACTION NOW: Write/phone the Coastal Commissioner for OC:

Larry Clark, Mayor
City of Rancho Palos Verdes
30940 Hawthorne Blvd.
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90295; 310-377-0360

Urge him to vote NO on the motion to concur that Consistency Certification CC-018-07 is consistent with the enforceable policies of the California Coastal Management Program, and to APPROVE a resolution to object to the Consistency Certification on the grounds that the FT-S toll road is inconsistent with the CCMP’s enforceable policies. (This is the official wording of what the Commission will vote on.) See for other points to make.

ACTION IN FEBRUARY: Join the enviro community at the hearing in San Diego—cheer the speakers and wave a placard! It is likely that a bus will go to the hearing from southern OC. Check in late Jan.

MORE ACTION NOW: All the elected officials whose districts encompass the proposed route have declared in favor of the toll road based (they say) on the traffic relief it is touted as bringing to south OC. This is despite:

  • a recent poll that found that 70% of Orange County voters oppose a toll road through a state park,
  • the cash-strapped State Parks Dept.’s refusal of TCA’s recent offer of $100 million to not oppose the proposed route (which would bisect the San Mateo unit of San Onofre State Beach and render its very popular campground unusable in addition to the other environmental damage),
  • a lengthy list of elected officials (from elsewhere) and community leaders (see who are on record as opposing the proposed route.

Write/phone/fax these elected officials. Tell them that you, one of their constituents, oppose the proposed route for any of the reasons below. (See Points to make)

Ken Calvert, 44th Congressional Dist. (San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Las Flores, Coto de Caza, north to Riverside Co.)

26111 Antonio Pkwy, Ste. 300,
Las Flores, CA 92688
949-888-8498, Fax 949-888-8524

Dick Ackerman, 33rd St. Senate Dist. (Rancho Mission Viejo; Rancho Sta. Margarita, Mission Viejo, and other cities along the foothills up to the 91; encompasses the existing toll roads)

17821 E. 17th St., Ste 180
Tustin, California 92780
714-573-1853, Fax: 714-573-1859

Mark Wyland, 38th St. Senate Dist. (San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, south to Oceanside)

27126-A Paseo Espada, #1621
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
949-489-9838, Fax: 949-489-8354

Mimi Walters, 73rd Assembly Dist. (southern coastal OC)

24031 El Toro Road Suite 210
Laguna Hills, CA 92653

Pat Bates, 5th Supervisorial Dist. (most of southeastern OC) County of Orange

333 W. Santa Ana Blvd.
Santa Ana, CA 92701
714-834-3550, Fax 714-834-2670, pat

Points to make:

  • Putting the toll road on the proposed route will set a very dangerous precedent for similar invasions throughout our State Park system, and for all parks, open spaces and mitigation areas.
  • San Onofre State Beach and the adjoining Donna O’Neill Land Conservancy (located just inland from San Onofre’s San Mateo unit) were both set aside as mitigation for development. To ignore these mitigation agreements will set a very dangerous precedent for mitigation agreements everywhere, and the NCCPs/HCPs from which they come.
  • As a still-natural watershed in southern California, San Mateo Creek is absolutely priceless, far more valuable to the long-term public good than whatever short-term benefits the toll road may bring.
  • The San Mateo watershed’s integrity must not be sacrificed in an attempt to solve a traffic need that can never be satisfied.
  • If constructed, this project will profoundly compromise the popular San Onofre State Beach and the San Mateo Campground. This is one of the last areas of coastal land available to the general public in Southern California, and must be protected.
  • Trestles, the “Yosemite of surfing,” is at risk of damaged wave formation from alteration of the natural sediment flow of San Mateo Creek. In addition, polluted runoff from the road will impact the pristine water quality at Trestles Beach.


  1. The Santiago Fire burned some 67% of the NCCP Central Sub-area portion of the Nature Reserve of Orange County (NROC). Since NROC is nearly surrounded by urbanization, there are almost no refugia from which passive restoration recruitment may come after such a large and intense fire. Shortly after the fire, NROC convened a stakeholders’ group of nearly three-dozen agencies, jurisdictions, researchers, landowners, consultants and enviro groups to discuss coordination of restoration protocols. The group will meet again in January. However, NROC management doesn’t anticipate doing any active restoration until it sees how the habitat naturally recovers. If active restoration is needed, NROC’s technical advisors believe that it will not be genetically detrimental to use seed collected at Camp Pendleton.

There has been at least one fire somewhere in the Sub-area almost annually in the last 10 years (a fire history map will be available at OCCNPS’ general meeting). These overlapping fires have made the Reserve very susceptible to type conversion to weedy annual grassland. This would result in loss of the habitat that supports the indicator species that the Reserve was created to protect. To avoid these losses and to allow the habitats to recover, fire must be excluded from the Reserve for at least a decade—a significant challenge for fire managers.

  1. CNPS Legislative Consultant Vern Goerhing reports that fire will be an important theme for legislation in 2008—prevention, fighting, recovery, defensible space, etc. The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Emergency Services and Homeland Security (Chairs: Senator Kehoe, San Diego, and Assemblyman Nava, Santa Barbara) is gathering information possibly leading to proposed legislation or budget recommendations. Such legislation is a central concern to CNPS, which is planning to form a working group to help guide our efforts on legislative or administrative policy initiatives. ACTION NOW: CNPS’ Legislative Committee needs a few good people to help watchdog legislation of interest. Contact Vern Goerhing at if you can help—it’s almost all done via the internet.

—Celia Kutcher, Conservation Chair


NATIVE GARDENING WORKSHOP: How to Select, Plant and Care for California Natives in Your Garden

Sundays, January 27 and February 3, and Saturday, February 9 from 9AM to noon

The Sea & Sage chapter of the Audubon Society, through their Audubon at Home program, sponsors this three-morning workshop to encourage planting for wildlife. During these sessions, get information on selecting appropriate native plants for the spaces in your garden. Learn how and when to plant natives, as well as how to care for and prune them. Soil and watering requirements that enable these plants to thrive will also be discussed. Experienced native plant gardeners are most welcome. (There’s always something new to learn!)

Each session will meet at a residential garden or other site where you can see natives growing, at locations in Santa Ana, Claremont and San Juan Capistrano. A donation of $30 or more per person is requested if you can afford it. Enrollment is limited.

To reserve a place, send your $30 check payable to Sea and Sage Audubon and a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) to Diane Bonanno, 4611 Santa Fe St., Yorba Linda, CA 92886. Please include your phone number and email address. Confirmations as well as directions to meeting locations and other material will be mailed to you on January 15. No reservations will be taken by phone. If you have questions, you may call Diane at 714-572-9911.

Co-leaders: Diane Bonanno & Pat Overby, Landscape Designers specializing in California Natives


CNPS is pleased to present:


Buena Vista Audubon Nature Center, Oceanside

March 4-6, 2008

Instructors: Fred Roberts and Michelle Balk

Cost: $440 CNPS members; $450 non-members

Course Description: This course will focus on the identification and ecology of sensitive plants of the coast, foothills, and mountains of San Diego County. Emphasis will be placed on endangered, threatened, and CNPS List 1 and 2 species. Key characters used in identifying easily-confused species will be presented, and specific distributions and habitat preferences will be discussed. Rare plant survey protocols, especially those developed by California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) and the California Native Plant Society (CNPS), will also be examined in detail. The course will include field trips to local rare plant populations to provide course participants with first-hand experience of sensitive plants of San Diego County. For full details and registration go to and scroll down to March 4 – 6.

Check out the new CNPS Work Exchange Program for reduced or waived workshop fees.

Josie Crawford, Plant Science Training Coordinator

(916) 447-2677,



Saturday, February 23, 1 – 6:00PM and Sunday, February 24, 6:30 – 10AM

Audubon California’s Starr Ranch Sanctuary invites you to our winter wildlife class for adults. Join staff biologists for a peaceful weekend at beautiful 4000-acre Starr Ranch in southeast Orange County and experience nature hands-on as a wildlife researcher.

This winter wildlife class will investigate the diversity of native mice, woodrats, and other rodents throughout the habitats of Starr Ranch Sanctuary. Saturday afternoon, participants will learn about species biology and identification. We will place and bait live-traps at multiple sites. At dusk, we will conduct a nocturnal wildlife survey from Bell Canyon to the highest point in the sanctuary. Sunday morning, we will return to the trap sites to identify and release the captured small mammals. This class will prepare participants to become volunteer researchers with our ongoing study of the effects of coastal sage scrub restoration on small mammal populations.

Cost: $65/person; $70/person if (optional) tent camping. No meals provided but kitchen and picnic facilities will be available. Space is limited! Questions: 949-858-0309. Reservations: 949-858-0131 or



ROOTS meet one Saturday each month 9-12pm
Volunteers help remove invasives and plant natives in order to provide habitat for wildlife. Training, tools, refreshments, camaraderie and beautiful scenery are provided. All ages welcome! Bring a water bottle, sturdy shoes, and sun protection.

2008 ROOTS dates:

January 26
February 23
March 22
April 26
May 24
June 28
July 26
August 23
September 27
October 25
November 8

Restoration sites vary around the Bay. Please contact Matt Yurko for site location and directions or to bring a group of 10 or more, at or (949) 640-0286.



Friday, March 14, 7:00 – 9:00PM

Speaker: Dr. Peter Bowler, Senior Lecturer at UCI, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. This is a regular meeting of the Coalition for the Environment. In addition to the presentation, an election for president of the Coalition will be held. Irvine Ranch Water District, 15600 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine.


BACK TO NATIVES will keep you hopping all year!

Saturday, January 12, 8AM – 12PM

Volunteer Restoration Training Program

The United States Forest Service & Back to NativesRESTORATION is presenting a Volunteer Restoration Training Program! To complete the program, participants must attend six of the nine classes offered each year. For more information or to RSVP call 949-509-4787 or This training is free.

Saturday, January 19, 9AM – 11AM

Rubber Boot Race

Back to Natives will be supporting our friend Joel Robinson and the Santa Ana Park Naturalist Program on Saturday, January 19, 2008, from 9-11AM at the 4th annual Rubber Boot Race! The 2-mile race benefits the Park Naturalist Program and is one of the most enjoyable and inspiring events that the City of Santa Ana Parks, Recreation and Community Services Agency hosts each year. This race is more about fun and fresh air than competition, but there are prizes for those who want to run the course and come in first, second, and third in their category. Please join the Back to Natives team and run (well… walk) with us in support of this great program! PLEASE LET US KNOW IF YOU WILL BE JOINING US! To register go to and type “rubber boot race” into the search box.

Saturday, February 23, 10AM – 12:30PM

Dolphin & Whale Safari

Join Back to Natives on February 23 at 10AM for a 2.5-hour Dolphin and Whale Safari on a 35-foot Sailing Catamaran! We will be on the look out for Gray Whales, which will be migrating between Alaska and the lagoons of Baja between December and early May. Dolphins are almost a guarantee, and participants have been known to witness pods of between 500 and 1000 dolphins at a time! Ticket sales benefit Back to Natives, a 501(c) 3 public benefit corporation. Proceeds go directly to providing environmental education programs for low income schools in Orange County. To purchase tickets visit Adult $60, Child $45. The catamaran only has space for 10 more people, so buy your tickets ASAP!

Around The County in 18 Hikes

The staff at Back to Natives never misses a chance to go hiking—OR to allude to classic literature, so what better name for a series of hikes in beautiful, biodiverse Orange County? “Around the County in 18 Hikes” is a series of hikes and excursions throughout Orange County in 2008. There is no charge for any of these hikes (aside from parking fees). Our goal is simply to explore the County’s wildlands and drag YOU along with us! Many of the hikes are led by Back to Natives staff while some will be led by local experts or naturalists from the park or reserve we will be visiting. Four seasonal “Eco-Tours” will give us a chance to visit a wild place, as well as a nearby “green” business and a yummy independent restaurant. We’ll be keeping track of the number of times you join us, because at the end of the year those who have attended THE MOST hikes will be entered to win a fabulous prize! The first hike is listed below. Call 949-509-4787 or email to RSVP. Visit for details on all 18 hikes and events.

#1. January 6, 9:00AM – 1:00PM Winter Eco-Tour: Coordinated by Lori Whalen and BTN. Santiago Park—led by Naturalist Extraordinaire Joel Robinson, then to the Road Less Traveled to shop and then off to Nature’s Niche Restaurant to eat.

#2. January 20, 1:00PM—Tide Pooling at Dana Point Marine Life Refuge Join BTN for a fun Scavenger Hunt (NO collecting!) at the Dana Point Marine Life Refuge! We’ll hike to the point at low tide, explore a cave and search for intertidal creatures. RSVP to–we’ll send you directions.

#3. February 2, 9:00AM—TBD. We’re taking suggestions!

#4. March 1, 9:00AM—Riley Wilderness Park Bird of Prey Presentation and hike with Ranger Donna Krucki

#5. March, 20, 6:30PM—Spring Equinox Sunset Walk at Peters Canyon Regional Park led by BTN staff.

#6. April 5, 9:00AM—Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve led by Kim Kolpin, Executive Director, Bolsa Chica Stewards.

#7. May 3, 9:00AM – 1:00PM—Spring Eco-Tour: Santiago Oaks Park, Acorn Naturalists & Rutabagorz Restaurant.

#8. May 17, 9:00AM–Starr Ranch Sanctuary Hike led by Justin Shew, Biologist & Bird Program Educator.

#9. June 21, 9:00AM—Summer Solstice Walk in Mason Regional Park (Wilderness Area) led by BTN staff.

#10. July 12, 9:00AM—Upper Newport Bay casual bike ride along back bay road.

#11. August 16, 7:00PM—Full Moon Walk at Crystal Cove State Park led by BTN staff.

#12. September 22, 9:00AM—Autumn Equinox Walk at O’Neill Park led by BTN staff.

#13. September 27, 9:00AM—Donna O’Neill Land Conservancy hike.

#14. October 4, 9:00AM – 1PM—Fall Eco Tour: Caspers Wilderness Park, Tree of Life Nursery (CNPS Plant Sale) and Pedro’s Tacos

#15. October 18, 9:00AM—Fire Ecology Walk at Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park with Nature Conservancy Senior Ecologist, Trish Smith

#16. November 15, 9:00AM—Laguna Coast Wilderness Park hike with Resource Specialist Laura Cohen ($2 fee/ guest to the County of Orange) Parking $3.

#17. November 28, 9:00AM—Buy Nothing Day Hike in the Cleveland National Forest led by BTN staff.

#18. December 21, 9:00AM—Winter Solstice Walk at Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park led by BTN staff




We have scheduled an exciting variety of field trips for the Spring, led by many of our popular So Cal experts.

Our field trips are open to anyone, members and non-members, but we would prefer that you pre-register with your name, phone number, email, and the number of expected participants so that we can notify you in case of last-minute changes or cancellations. A few of the trips will require reservations due to limited space or access. These are clearly marked.

How to contact us:

Pre-registration and information: email Rich Schilk,

No email? Call Joan Hampton, (714) 283-9146

Saturday, February 16, 9AM—Nix Nature Center
Leader: Lois Taylor

The Nix Nature Center was opened in November 2006. Several trails begin at the nature center and range from easy and level to steeper ones that lead up to the ridge. Before beginning the hike, we will start with a walk through the nature center, which contains exhibits for the area. These include local geology, plants and animals, Native American history and artifacts and works by local artists depicting the area.

Directions: Nix Center is located off Laguna Canyon road half way between the 405 and the toll road. Coming from the 405 it will be on the right. From Laguna Beach it will be on the left. There is a sign—only one—in each direction, so watch for it. Laguna Canyon is now a divided road so if you miss the entrance you will have to go to the light (there’s one at each end) and make a U-turn. Parking is $3.

Saturday, March 1, 9AM—Trabuco Canyon

Leader: Joel Robinson.

See big cone Douglas fir, big leaf maple, and California newts up close and personal. Trabuco is one of the wettest and deepest canyons in our county. It is a mysterious place where steelhead and madrone hide away. Pre-registration required. Volunteers with high clearance vehicles are needed.

Directions: From south county exit I-5 on El Toro Rd in Lake Forest, head northeast for 7.3 miles. Turn right at Live Oak Canyon Rd and continue (carefully) for 3.3 mi. Cross small bridge over Trabuco Creek and immediately turn left onto Trabuco Creek Rd (a rough dirt road) and park.

From north county take E Chapman Ave (4.2 miles) to E Santiago Canyon Rd. Go 12.3 miles. At Cook’s Corner, turn left at Live Oak Canyon Rd. and continue as described above.

Sunday, March 9, 10:30AM—Santa Rosa Plateau

Leader: Joel Robinson

Here may be fairy lanterns and fairy shrimp. Trails are surrounded by gnarly Engelmann oaks, lichen-covered boulders and more bunchgrasses than you can count. You can even play bobbing for brodiaea amongst the tufts of needlegrass!

Directions: From CA-91 in Chino, exit on southbound I-15 toward San Diego. Continue for 27.4 mi. Exit on Clinton Keith Rd and go right. In 3.9 miles, turn left into the dirt parking lot at the Santa Rosa Plateau Visitors Center. Bring snacks and lunch.

Directions for the remaining field trips will appear in subsequent newsletters or can be found on our website.

Saturday, March 15, 10:30AM—Santa Margarita River/De Luz
Leader: Tom Chester

The trail on the south bank of the Santa Margarita River may hold the record for the most native plant species of any trail in southern California. It has almost 200 native taxa in its 2.53 miles, thanks to its low elevation and number of habitats, including riparian habitat. In contrast, a typical trail would have only ~120. The trail is almost dead flat, and almost completely shaded, which is very unusual for such a low-elevation trail. It follows the railroad route carved in the 1880s that was San Diego’s attempt to be the terminus of the Intercontinental Railroad. We’ll see banks of ferns, Dudleyas, fiesta flowers, and Jepsonia, with a strong-flowing river in view much of the time. Hopefully, we’ll get some 31 inch tall owl’s clover and the Venus looking-glass (Triodanis biflora) again this year. The first 1.45 miles burned in the 2002 Fallbrook fire, but has recovered nicely. For a plant trail guide go to

Saturday, April 5, 2:00PM—Crystal Cove: Beyond the Bluffs and Beach, an Enjoyable Look at Marine Ecology
Leader: Trude Hurd

Marine Biologist Trude Hurd is the Sea & Sage Project Director of Education. Since we will actually be going from sea to sage, our field trip dovetails perfectly with her official duties. She invites us to join her “…for a walk along Crystal Cove State Beach to examine first-hand how plants and algae survive in the intertidal area. Learn how to identify the common algae and their important role in the food web. Be prepared to examine stranded kelp for animal evidence, to poke your nose close to the rocks to know how hard it is to be a red algae, and to get your feet a little wet. We will also observe native plants on the bluff and the rare birds that live there.

Turning our attention to the bluffs, we can observe native plants such as sagebrush, buckwheat and encelia. These provide habitat for lots of endangered California Gnatcatcher, California Thrasher, Wrentit, and Towhee. Cancel if rain.”

Saturday, April 12: San Diego County
Leader: Fred Roberts

The destination for this trip is yet to be determined.

Saturday, April 19—Baggin’ the Peak: Plants of the Main Divide Road and Santiago Peak region
Leader: Bob Allen

“We’ll attack it by car from the southeast side, stopping at cool places along the way. We will be looking for the recently discovered population of Arctostaphylos pringlei ssp. drupacea, pink-bracted manzanita! It’s on the southeast side of Santiago Peak, outside of the closure area, a little ways down the Coldwater Trail (which is itself the type locality of Santiago Peak Phacelia—which may or may not bloom this year).” Pre-registration is required. Volunteers with high clearance vehicles are needed.

Saturday, April 26—Northern Santa Ana Range
Leader: David Olson

Witness the process of recovery in areas that were burned in the recent Santiago fire, as we search for fire-following species. We hope to see some that are rarely found under normal circumstances. We will drive to selected locations in Irvine Ranch Conservancy vehicles, then get out and hike to interesting spots. Mandatory pre-registration, limited attendance. No private vehicles

Saturday, May 3, 8:45AM—Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve
Joint trip with Sierra Club Natural Science Section
Leaders: Liana Argento and Gabriele Rau, with Bob Muns

Easy paced six-mile hike on reasonably flat terrain with stops for photo shoots. We’ll walk the Back Bay Drive, tour Big Canyon, stop at the Back Bay Café for lunch and return by mid afternoon. Enjoy nature, watch birds, learn about a variety of habitats, review some local history, have a good time, and enjoy some good food afterwards. Rain cancels.


What would you expect our Invasive Exotics chairperson to do on his honeymoon? Read on.

“During two weeks of touring in southern Spain, Gwenn and I drove about 1100 miles in rental cars so that we could visit smaller towns and view the countryside. Starting at Gibraltar, we headed northwest to Cadiz, then east to Ronda, then southeast to the coast at Marbella, then east along the coast to Malaga, then inland to Granada, then south again to the coast at Motril, then east to the desert area of Almeria, then northwest past Granada to Cordoba. From Cordoba we rode the bullet train to Sevilla, and rented another car for driving north to Merida and northeast to Madrid. I’m offering my observations of wildland plants in Spain that are invasive in California for reasons of intellectual curiosity only; promoting invasive weed control work in southern Europe is beyond my capability or ambition.


TAMARISK—I saw not a single Athel tree, the evergreen tamarisk. The deciduous saltcedar looks very much like the invasive variety in California. It is especially common in dry washes and along small river channels in the eastern, drier parts of Andalucia, from Almeria to Granada. The trees and saplings that I observed had lush, healthy foliage, with no obvious sign of insect herbivory. Tamarisk was less common in wetter areas west and north of Granada.

BROOM—I expected to see lots of broom growing on hillsides in chaparral-type habitat, because I had seen the plant mentioned in tourbooks. However the plant that I recognize as Spanish broom—with relatively stout, true-green foliage—was mostly confined to freeway median strips in the countryside, where it was the most common ornamental planted, followed by tamarisk and oleander. Larger (because they were not trimmed), sparser broom plants were present along freeway margins near the planted median strips, but were rare elsewhere, such as in vast oak woodlands where I presumed that young broom plants were eaten by wild pigs. Another type of broom that I didn’t recognize—with more open and delicate foliage, light gray-green in color—was locally common on hillsides near the southern coast, but not further north. The low-growing chaparral-type plants growing on dry sunny hillsides were mostly scrub oak, wild olive and other species that I did not recognize, but without much broom.

FIG—Widespread in low numbers as isolated, solitary trees.

FENNEL & ARTICHOKE THISTLE—Relatively uncommon as roadside weeds and in uncultivated fields; another annual thistle that I did not recognize was much more abundant.


CASTOR BEAN—Seeing castor bean in Spain was not surprising, considering that it’s reportedly native to Africa. The surprise was that populations looked young, compared to some in Los Angeles County:

the largest plants were about 8 feet tall with trunk diameters of no more than several inches. Castor bean seemed confined to within a 60-mile radius from Gibraltar, and was not evident in eastern Andalucia or north of Sevilla, where drought or cold winters could limit its spread.

ARUNDO—I expected to see Arundo in Spain, considering that Arundo supposedly was originally introduced to California by the Spanish and planted at some missions. The surprise was that Arundo stands in Spain are mostly small, rarely larger than a half-acre in area. Small isolated clumps are common bordering agricultural fields; larger stands line ditches and stream channels; but nowhere did I see many acres of Arundo in one place, as is typical along river channels in southern California. Like castor bean, Arundo was more prevalent near the southern coast and less common in central Spain. The most extensive Arundo growth that I observed was in a narrow canyon draining the Sierra Nevada between Granada and Motril, where stand sizes were confined by canyon walls and limited by intense flooding; whereas in central Spain, Arundo was scarce or absent in the broader valleys of the Rio Guadiana near Merida or the Rio Tajo near Toledo. Some of the Arundo near the southern coast looked transitional to phragmites, with the shorter stature and erect leaves of phragmites but the thicker stalk diameter of Arundo.

AILANTHUS—I observed Ailanthus groves at the outskirts of several small towns, with the same growth pattern as in California: one or several larger trees, surrounded by an expanded clonal group of saplings. Ailanthus seemed more common in the colder interior of Spain, and I also saw an Ailanthus sapling invading a landscaped park in central Paris.

EUCALYPTUS—Eucalyptus was the most widespread exotic tree in Spain, although most trees probably had been planted individually or in rows, as in California. In places eucalyptus seemed to have naturalized, forming discrete monotypic groves on hillsides.”

—Bill Neill