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Creosote Bush Flowers and Fruit

Creosote Bush in Bloom
Photo by Kathy LaShure

Creosote Ring Sub-Chapter

The Creosote Ring subchapter was formed in the Fall of 2005. Our members live in the Indian Wells Valley at the southern end of the Bristlecone Chapter’s geographically large territory.

Events

Meetings

NOTE: Since the previous Creosote Ring Leader (Kathy LaShure) moved from the area at the end of 2016, no one that we know of in the main Bristlecone Chapter has stepped in to organize the Creosote Ring Sub-Chapter in her absence. If anyone has updates, please contact the webmaster at webmaster@bristleconecnps.org and I will update this page.

When we have meetings, we usually meet on the first Wednesday at the Maturango Museum (100 E. Las Flores, Ridgecrest) at 7 pm. Sometimes we have a speaker/program; other times we work on projects and plans (including field trips in our area). Contact the museum to see if there is anything planned.


Field Trips and Events

Below are some of the Bristlecone Chapter and other field trips that are farther south - check the main events page to see more!

CNPS Event February 6, 2019, Wednesday, 6pm: CNPS Bristlecone Chapter Board Meeting

Location: Eastern Sierra Land Trust, 250 N. Fowler, Bishop. All members are welcome.

CNPS Event February 15: March-April Bristlecone Chapter Newsletter Deadline

Today is the deadline for submissions for the March-April Bristlecone Chapter Newsletter to our Newsletter Editor, Elaine Chow, at newsletter@bristleconecnps.org. Contact Elaine with any questions.

CNPS Event February 20, Wednesday, 7pm, Bristlecone Chapter Program: Resistance and resilience: twelve years of monitoring shrub and prairie communities in Orange County, with Sarah Kimball, plant ecologist. White Mountain Research Center.

Sarah Kimball will describe how partnerships between academic institutions and land management organizations provide opportunities to evaluate the health of plant communities. She will present twelve years of monitoring data from Orange County, analyzed to assess the degree to which communities were resistant or resilient to drought, invasive species, and wildfire.

Sarah is an adjunct professor and assistant director of the Center for Environmental Biology at UC Irvine. She works to understand, preserve, and restore plant communities across California.

For further information contact Michèle Slaton.

March 2, Saturday, 2-5pm: Mule Deer Migration Field Trip, Eastern Sierra Land Trust

Join us for an informative tour of the Round Valley mule deer herd's migration corridor. Biologist Tim Taylor with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will share updates on how the deer are doing over the winter as we explore the beautiful Round Valley migration area. This is a free family-friendly event, but please leave your canine friends at home this time. Binoculars are recommended but not required, and remember to dress accordingly for the weather. Light snacks and refreshments will be provided. For more information (including meeting location) and to RSVP, please contact Marie Ring, ESLT Education Coordinator and AmeriCorps Member, at marie@eslt.org or (760) 873-4554.

March 12, Tuesday, 7pm: Increasing our understanding of Eastern California Springs: Amargosa and Beyond, with Andy Zdon, Northern Arizona University, White Mountain Research Center Public Lectures

White Mountain Research Center is pleased to present a series of FREE lectures open to the general public. The lectures cover a diverse array of topics and are usually presented by scientists and other researchers affiliated with the station. Unless otherwise noted, lectures are held at 7:00 PM at the Owens Valley Station located at 3000 East Line Street in Bishop, California. 760-873-4344.

Tonight's Lecture is on Increasing our understanding of Eastern California Springs: Amargosa and Beyond, presented by Andy Zdon, Northern Arizona University; California Professional Geologist, Certified Hydrogeologist, and Certified Engineering Geologist – UC White Mountain Research Center

CNPS Event March 13, 2019, Wednesday, 6pm: CNPS Bristlecone Chapter Board Meeting

Location: Eastern Sierra Land Trust, 250 N. Fowler, Bishop. All members are welcome. NOTE: Next board meeting is in May - we canceled March because we just had one in February.

March 30 DEADLINE: American Penstemon Society Grants

The American Penstemon Society is once again seeking proposals for funding. The purpose of the APS Special Projects Program, $1000 maximum, is to stimulate activities that promote knowledge and appreciation of Penstemons. Many kinds of projects will be considered. In addition, APS provides a grant for graduate students, with funding up to $2000, whose research directly involves Penstemons. Please see the linked flier for more information about both opportunities. Please distribute this information to others who may be interested.

March 29 and 30, Friday and Saturday, 6pm: Banff Mountain Film Festival, 2019 World Tour

Ignite your passion for adventure, action, and travel! This year's exhilarating and provocative films explore remote landscapes, highlight mountain cultures, and feature exciting adventures and adrenaline-packed sports. The festival will take place Friday, March 29th, and Saturday, March 30th. Screenings are in the Charles Brown Auditorium at the Tri-County Fairgrounds in Bishop. Doors open at 6pm, films start at 7pm, with different films shown each night. Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival is brought to the Eastern Sierra by Inyo Council for the Arts. For more information and tickets, call Inyo Council for the Arts at 760-873-8014 or visit www.inyo.org.

CNPS Event March 30, Saturday, 10am: Tungsten Peak, Bristlecone Chapter Field Trip, led by Steve Matson

This hike is considered strenuous as it gains 1,286 ft. in just over a mile. We will be perusing early annuals and shrubs in their winter to spring aspect. A little exercise before the Banff Film Festival second evening of films at the Tri-County Fair Grounds. Expect to see Grayia Spinosa (hopsage), Atriplex canescens (four-winged saltbush) Menodora spinescens and others of this ilk. With luck I hope to find Muilla coronata. I plan on generating a plant list for this hike, so bring sharp eyes, notebook, and writing implements!

Meeting at 10 AM at the Inyo National Forest Supervisor's Office Parking lot, 351 Pacu Lane (off West Line Street behind the DMV). We will drive from there to the Millpond Recreation Area on Sawmill Road and proceed on dirt roads to the trailhead in the Tungsten Hills.

I am allowing well behaved dogs along. Bring a lunch, some water, sun hat.... the usual for a day’s outing. Contact: Steve Matson, ssmat@sbcglobal.net; 775-843-0389

April 2, Tuesday, 7pm: Dry/Wet snow recipes for unusual avalanches - Avalanche forecasting challenges in a changing climate, with Sue Burak, Snow Survey Associates, White Mountain Research Center Public Lectures

White Mountain Research Center is pleased to present a series of FREE lectures open to the general public. The lectures cover a diverse array of topics and are usually presented by scientists and other researchers affiliated with the station. Unless otherwise noted, lectures are held at 7:00 PM at the Owens Valley Station located at 3000 East Line Street in Bishop, California. 760-873-4344.

Tonight's Lecture is on Dry/Wet snow recipes for unusual avalanches - Avalanche forecasting challenges in a changing climate, presented by Sue Burak, Snow Survey Associates – UC White Mountain Research Center

April 5-7: Spring Wildflower Exhibit 2019, Maturango Museum, 100 East Las Flores Ave, Ridgecrest

With earth-long rainbows and wondrous scents, Indian Wells Valley pledges otherworldly blossoms this spring. Eager spotters are sounding off as the first wildflower sprouts of the year are rearing their heads. Soon hundreds of varieties and colors will bedazzle the region’s every corner. Fortunately, a team of collectors will bring the pomp and glory to us. From April 5th to April 7th, the Maturango Museum will host its annual Wildflower Exhibit. In the Coso Room you can visit with more than 200 wildflower species from over 40 plant families. Exhibit hosts will be present to help guide guests and answer questions. More information and photos on the Maturango Museum site.

April 6, 2pm: A Botanist Comes Full-Circle: From Studying to Defending California’s Tejon Ranch, California’s Largest Private Landholding, Nick Jensen at the Maturango Museum, 100 East Las Flores Ave, Ridgecrest

California Native Plant Society’s Nick Jensen will speak at the Maturango Museum's Spring Wildflower Exhibit on April 6th at 2:00pm. His presentation will be “A Botanist Comes Full-Circle: From Studying to Defending California’s Tejon Ranch, California’s Largest Private Landholding.”

Nick Jensen is the Southern California Conservation Analyst for CNPS. Nick earned his BS degree in Environmental Horticulture at UC Davis, and recently completed his PhD in botany at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (RSABG)/Claremont Graduate University. As a graduate student Nick produced the first Flora of Tejon Ranch and studied evolutionary patterns in perennial Streptanthus (jewelflowers). From 2006-2010, he was employed by CNPS, first as a Vegetation Program Assistant, and later as the Rare Plant Program Director. Nick has also worked as a botanist for the U.S. Forest Service, Chicago Botanic Garden, and the private consulting industry. He has taught botany classes to professionals and interested members of the public for CNPS, RSABG, the Jepson Herbarium, and Theodore Payne Foundation. As a volunteer he has served on the Rare Plant Program Committee and the board of Southern California Botanists, serving as president in 2015-16. Nick is a fellow of the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation. In his free time, he enjoys cooking, hiking, rock climbing, and photographing wildflowers, activities that are often not mutually exclusive.

CNPS Event April 6, Saturday, 10am-Noon: Pollinator Garden Workshop, Eastern Sierra Land Trust

In Partnership with the Eastern Sierra Land Trust, CNPS is hosting a Pollinator Garden Workshop and Potluck on April 6! The workshop will be held at Inyo Council for the Arts on Saturday, April 6th from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., and will be immediately followed by the potluck. All are welcome for one or both parts. You’ll come away knowing everything you need to create a blooming haven for pollinators! There will be presentations on a variety of topics relating to creating pollinator habitat. Contact Marie Ring for more information, at marie@eslt.org or (760) 873 - 4554.

April 9, Tuesday, 7pm: Climate change impacts in alpine plant communities, with Meredith Jabis, PhD., University of California, Berkeley, White Mountain Research Center Public Lectures

White Mountain Research Center is pleased to present a series of FREE lectures open to the general public. The lectures cover a diverse array of topics and are usually presented by scientists and other researchers affiliated with the station. Unless otherwise noted, lectures are held at 7:00 PM at the Owens Valley Station located at 3000 East Line Street in Bishop, California. 760-873-4344.

Tonight's Lecture is on Climate change impacts in alpine plant communities, presented by Meredith Jabis, PhD., University of California, Berkeley – UC White Mountain Research Center

CNPS Event April 15: May-June Bristlecone Chapter Newsletter Deadline

Today is the deadline for submissions for the March-April Bristlecone Chapter Newsletter to our Newsletter Editor, Elaine Chow, at newsletter@bristleconecnps.org. Contact Elaine with any questions.

April 30, Tuesday, 7pm: What do migrants do differently? Identifying habitat for Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, with Derek Spitz, PhD. University of Montana, White Mountain Research Center Public Lectures

White Mountain Research Center is pleased to present a series of FREE lectures open to the general public. The lectures cover a diverse array of topics and are usually presented by scientists and other researchers affiliated with the station. Unless otherwise noted, lectures are held at 7:00 PM at the Owens Valley Station located at 3000 East Line Street in Bishop, California. 760-873-4344.

Tonight's Lecture is on What do migrants do differently? Identifying habitat for Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, with Derek Spitz, PhD. University of Montana – UC White Mountain Research Center

CNPS Event May 4, Saturday, 11am-2pm: GardenFest, Eastern Sierra Land Trust, 250 N. Fowler Street, Bishop

The annual GardenFest will be held at 250 N. Fowler St. in Bishop on Saturday, May 4, 11am - 2 pm. This free, family-friendly event celebrations spring with plants and delicious food for purchase, a free beer tasting, live music, children's games and much more.

GardenFest will also offer opportunities to learn about ESLT's Eastside Pollinator Garden Project, and how community members can transform their yards or garden into pollinator havens. This project helps keep the Eastern Sierra blooming by enticing native birds, bees, and butterflies to gardens throughout the Eastern Sierra.

For more information, please contact Marie Ring, ESLT's Education Coordinator and AmeriCorps Member, at marie@eslt.org or call (760) 873-4554.

CNPS Event May 10-13, Rare Plant Treasure Hunt, Conglomerate Mesa BioBlitz

Join CNPS, Friend of the Inyo, and Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden document the flora and fauna of Conglomerate Mesa in order to help conserve this amazing place. Meet us for camping and naturalizing in small groups May 11-12, or explore on your own Friday May 10th through Monday May 13th. We’ll search for rare plants, birds, reptiles, insects, and more and record our findings in iNaturalist. Habitats include stands of Joshua trees, pinyon-juniper, and desert hillsides.

Click here to RSVP and receive additional details.

CNPS Event May 15, Wednesday, 6pm: CNPS Bristlecone Chapter Board Meeting

Location: Eastern Sierra Land Trust, 250 N. Fowler, Bishop. All members are welcome.

CNPS Event May 22, Wednesday, 6pm Potluck, followed by desserts and a program at 7pm: Botanical Explorations of the Eastern Sierra (Local Botanical Research from DeDecker Grant Recipients), Bristlecone Chapter Program; Sophie Winitsky, Trevor Carter, and Isaac Marck, at the USFS/BLM Office Conference Room, Bishop

Three recipients of CNPS Bristlecone Chapter DeDecker Grants will present the findings of their botanical explorations and research of eastern California. Please join us for a potluck beginning at 6pm, and presentations at 7pm with desserts. Bring a dish to share if you can. The three DeDecker Grant Recipients who will present their work are Sophie Winitsky (Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden), a Flora of Adobe Valley, Mono County, Trevor Carter (University of NV, Reno), The changing needles of whitebark pine through decades of collections, and Isaac Marck (UC Berkeley), Systematics of rock daisies of Inyo County. Download flyer to share here.

CNPS Event May 24, Friday, 9am-1:30pm: Lower Rock Creek, Bristlecone Chapter Field Trip; Led by Ann Howald

Meet at 9 am at the Lower Rock Creek trailhead in Paradise (at the hairpin turn) next to the old Paradise Resort on Old Sherwin Grade Rd. This is about a mile north of the Inyo-Mono Co line. Carpooling to the trailhead appreciated since parking is limited. On this easy walk up the canyon we will see some interesting shrubs at or near the northern limit of their Eastern Sierra range - desert olive (Forestiera pubescens) and California coffeeberry (Frangula californica ssp. cuspidata); a variety of Mojavean wildflowers, including the only Mono County location for desert thistle (Cirsium neomexicanum); one of the largest Eastern Sierra stands of Ponderosa pine south of Lake Tahoe; and an assortment of riparian shrubs and wildflowers, including Kelley’s lily (Lilium kelleyanum) and stream orchid (Epipactis gigantea). Bring water and lunch to enjoy on the trail. We should be back to the cars by 1:30 pm or so. For more information, contact Ann: annhowald@vom.com or 707-721-6120.

CNPS Event May 25, Saturday, 8am: Northern Owens Valley Springtime Botany, Bristlecone Chapter Field Trip; Leader: Jerry Zatorski

This will be an exploration of some wildflower areas between Bishop and Laws. The diversity of habitats from alkali meadows to ancient upland sand dunes to White Mountain alluvial fans will not leave us short on places to explore for springtime blooms. The upland areas have numerous annuals and drought hardy desert shrubs. The meadows down in the river floodplain have an assortment of perennial forbs and grasses. The actual route will depend on where the blooms are happening and will be mostly accessible by roads and some short overland hiking. Expect up to about 5 miles of hiking at a botanist pace which should take us most of a day (6-8 hrs). Participants should bring lunch, snacks, fluids and a pack to carry personal items. Dress for the weather conditions, hat, sunscreen, hiking shoes, appropriate clothes. Bring field guides, hand lens, binoculars, topo maps, and a willingness to hike and explore. We will meet at 8:00 AM at the corner of US 6 and Silver Canyon Rd, just east of Laws. There is an Owens Valley Master Species List available for download on the Bristlecone Chapter web site at http://bristleconecnps.org/native_plants/checklists/, which works well as a paper list or on a small tablet. For more information contact Jerry at jerryzat@gmail.com.

June 8, Saturday, 9-11am: Gardening Inspiration Tour, Eastern Sierra Land Trust

Locals across the Eastern Sierra have been hard at work creating beautiful pollinator-friendly gardens filled with flourishing native plants. During our Garden Walk, you can see these lovely gardens in bloom, learn more about pollinator-friendly gardening, and come away with buckets of inspiration for your garden!

We will be meeting at the ESLT office at 9:00 a.m. to begin the walk.

Questions? Learn more and RSVP by contacting Marie at marie@eslt.org or at (760) 873-4554.

CNPS Event June 8, Saturday: Botany for Beginners, Mammoth/Long Valley, Bristlecone Chapter Field Trip, led by Michèle Slaton

The general public, including adults and kids of all ages are welcome on this field trip to learn some basic skills to get you started in identifying plants. We will focus on learning common wildflowers, starting with common traits used to recognize plant families. You’ll learn how to identify plant parts and how to use a plant key.

Have you ever wished you knew the names of the native plants near your home or on your favorite outings? Do you ever wonder how to figure out a plant’s name? Now is your chance! We will explore places in bloom from Long Valley to Convict Creek and the Sherwins, and get to know the common plants in flower. Experienced botanists are welcome also to share their skills.

We will meet at 9am at the Green Church at the intersection of Hwy 395 and Benton Crossing Road, and carpool to the extent possible. Bring everything you need for a full day in the field. All instructional materials will be provided, but bring a hand lens or magnifying glass, and plant guide/key if you have one. Contact Michèle Slaton (760-920-8693 or mslaton02@gmail.com) with questions. An RSVP at least one week in advance is requested but not required.

CNPS Event June 15, Saturday: Bristlecone Chapter Field Trip: Inyo Mountains Hike to Sidehill Spring. Leader: Jerry Zatorski.

This is an excursion as much as it is an exploration of the central Inyo Mountains. The hike starts at 7100' elevation and crosses the crest at 9514' with the spring at 9234' elevation on the eastward slope of the range. This hike will take us from Mojave flora to Great Basin flora in just a few miles. The ultimate goal will be Seep Hole Spring just on the eastern side of the crest with its breath taking views of Saline Valley and the desert beyond. The numerous shrub species and unusual combination of trees species on the crest will be just some of the highlights. If the botanical gods are good to us we may also find, Panamint Mariposa Lily, Calachortus panamintensis, Waxy Dogbane, Cycladenia humils, and some hard to fine Buckwheats, Eriogonum sp. This is a challenging 7 mile hike due to the 2 mile climb out of Mazourka Canyon that takes the most calories, but the rest is relatively gently sloping. Bring lunch, plenty of snacks and water, as this is dry hike, and a pack to carry it all. Dress for weather, hat, sunscreen, hiking boots appropriate clothing. We should be down by afternoon. We will meet at the Citrus Street Park on the south side of Independence at 7:00 AM to carpool, 4WD vehicles recommended. For more information contact Jerry Zatorski at jerryzat@gmail.com.

CNPS Event June 15: July-August Bristlecone Chapter Newsletter Deadline

Today is the deadline for submissions for the March-April Bristlecone Chapter Newsletter to our Newsletter Editor, Elaine Chow, at newsletter@bristleconecnps.org. Contact Elaine with any questions.

CNPS Event June 22, Saturday, 9am: Upper Summers Meadow watershed exploration, Bristlecone Chapter Field Trip, led by Ann Howald

Driving and hiking tour of this botanically little-known area south of Bridgeport. Previously grazed meadows, “enriched” montane sagebrush scrub, aspen groves, and possibly conifer forest if we get that far. Meet at the Bridgeport Humboldt-Toiyabe Ranger Station at 9 am. All day trip. Bring snacks, water, lunch, etc.

July 11-14, 2019: Sky Island Flora of the White Mountains, Jepson Herbarium Workshop, Jim Morefield and Dylan Neubauer White Mountain Research Center, Bishop and Crooked Creek. Workshop is full! Wait list only.

The White Mountains are located at the southwest corner of the Great Basin floristic region, and their geologic and habitat diversity, high relief (spanning 4,000-14,246 feet elevation), and proximity to the Sierra Nevada and Mojave Desert all contribute to an unusually rich and well-documented flora of over 1,100 taxa. They are also known for the oldest living trees, the highest point in Nevada, and the third highest peak in California. By mid-July, the subalpine and alpine floras are coming into their peak blooming periods.

Through driving tours (up to 50 miles each day) and easy to moderate hikes (up to 4 miles), participants will have the opportunity to explore the southern half of the White Mountains, observing and identifying diverse plants and learning to recognize various geologic and ecologic settings that influence species distributions and adaptations. Thursday morning, we will start from Bishop and stop at several points up the elevation gradient to our weekend base station at Crooked Creek (10,000 feet). Friday and Saturday will be spent visiting wetland and upland sites in various geologic settings at elevations up to 13,000 feet, depending on seasonal conditions. Sunday morning will include additional field time before our final lunch stop as we leave the mountains.

Accommodations: Shared dormitories with bathrooms.
Meals: Provided by field station.
Transportation: Vehicles must have good clearance and sturdy tires (including spare!). Carpooling possible. High clearance 4x4 with extra passenger space preferred.
Hiking: Easy to difficult: If we go up any steep and/or rocky hillsides, it will be very slowly while we look at plants, and the distances will be pretty short. Participants should use their discretion if they will be able to adjust quickly to hiking at elevations above 10,000 feet.
Start/End: Thursday morning - Sunday afternoon.
Course Fee: $550/$580.

Register for the wait list here.

CNPS Event August 24, 9-11am: the Bristlecone Chapter Annual Plant Sale at the White Mountain Research Center:

This is the largest native plant sale of the year, and yes, we can accept credit cards! Open to the public at 9am. Members can start at 8, and if even you become a member that morning, you can get in at 8am! A wonderful array of native plants is offered every year.  A variety of flowers, shrubs, and trees adapted to our area will be for sale. Here is a list of plants currently growing for the 2019 plant sale (updated in June 2019).

Prices: Plant prices are $5.00 for small tree pots, $8.00 for gallon pots, and $10 for large tree pots. If you have any of the black plastic pots from last year’s sale we would love to recycle them for you.

Proceeds from the annual native plant sales provide funding for our Mary DeDecker Botanical Grants. The grant program is a fitting way to remember Mary DeDecker’s many contributions to the people and plants of the Eastern Sierra.

CNPS Event August 15: September-October Bristlecone Chapter Newsletter Deadline

Today is the deadline for submissions for the March-April Bristlecone Chapter Newsletter to our Newsletter Editor, Elaine Chow, at newsletter@bristleconecnps.org. Contact Elaine with any questions.

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Wildflower photos!

Mojave Aster and Prince's Plume, El Paso Mountains

Mojave Aster and Prince's Plume, El Paso Mountains
Photo by Kathy LaShure

A few more wildflower photos to whet your appetite: California Poppy, Coreopsis, Desert Chicory, Grape Soda Lupine, Mojave Bush Penstemon, post-fire wildflowers in Indian Wells Canyon.

Desert Candle, El Paso Mountains

Desert Candle, El Paso Mountains
Photo by Kathy LaShure


News

First Place for Number of Rare Plant Occurrences in 2013 Rare Plant Treasure Hunt!

First Place!

Our own Kathy LaShure, leader of the Creosote Ring Chapter and hunter of rare plants, was completely surprised with an award from the Rare Plant Treasure Hunt committee for documenting the most species of rare plants in the California Rare Plant Treasure Hunt. She and her team documented 15 occurrences of rare plants in their area winning her first place among botanists participating throughout the state. Her 3-year total is an impressive 72 populations recorded.

The Rare Plant Treasure Hunt is fun if sometimes arduous, but also very important to conservation of rare plant species. Among partners and supporters of the effort are US Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, National Forest Foundation, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California State Parks and National Park Service. The program also receives support from Whale Tail grants, funded by proceeds from special license plates with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. More information is available at Rare Plant Treasure Hunt Project Background and Results.

Kathy is setting her eyes on some very enigmatic and elusive species for 2014 – Phacelia novenmillensi or 9-Mile Phacelia. She will have help from Erika Gardener, a Claremont College graduate student. Their field date is sometime between May 7 and 9 along the Pacific Crest Trail south of Walker Pass. Volunteers are welcome. Contact Kathy LaShure for more information at 760-377-4541.

Creosote Ring and the Red Jeepsters Win Again in 2012!

In last year's Rare Plant Treasure Hunt, The Red Jeepsters won 2nd place for their team, and also for Rich LaShure's great photo (see below).This time, the "intrepid" team came in 1st Place for both overall rare plants found and documented and for most trips led!

"The Creosote Ring subchapter of the Bristlecone Chapter submitted the most rare plant occurrences this year. Trip leader Kathy LaShure organized and led nine trips, documenting many rare plant occurrences from the southern Sierra Nevada. Although it’s a small subchapter, the Creosote Ring members filed in force this summer, and they had great success in finding and documenting their local rare plants. Thank you for your inspiring efforts!"

(from the CNPS Rare Plant Treasure Hunt Awards page)

Erigeron multiceps - photo by Kathy LaShure

Erigeron multiceps
A rare plant documented by the Creosote Ring subchapter
Photo by Kathy LaShure.

Kathy Says: "Yippee! The Creosote Ring won First Place honors this year! Our subchapter now has its own copy of Jepson II for field work & IDing."

The CNPS e-Newsletter has a different write-up about the Rare Plant Treasure Hunt & the 2012 awards. Here are some excerpts:

“Volunteers from the Creosote Ring subchapter and the Sierra Club visited Horseshoe Meadows, a high-elevation, easily accessible, subalpine meadow, as well as some of the surrounding passes and trails. We were fortunate to be joined by Tim Thomas, who has been studying the region's flora for 30 years. Despite the area's accessibility (a paved road makes the steep climb up the eastern slope of the Sierra to the trailhead), many exciting botanical finds awaited us. We found new and historical locations of Tulare rockcress (Boechera tularensis), field ivesia (Ivesia campetris), and Tulare campion (Silene aperta). Jean Dillingham, a new volunteer, was excited to find a very old occurrence of Sharmith's stickseed (Hackelia sharsmithii), a plant named after her friend Carl Sharsmith.”

And this:

“Individuals from many CNPS Chapters participated in the RPTH this year, but a few chapters led the way in organizing treasure hunts. This year's top chapter was the Creosote Ring subchapter of the Bristlecone Chapter. Kathy LaShure of Creosote Ring led many trips this year, some with other chapter members, and some with her two-person team, "The Red Jeepsters". They were able to find many new and historical occurrences of southern Sierra endemics this year, and their work will help with the proposed downranking of field ivesia (Ivesia campestris) from rank 1B to Rank 4.”

Thank you to everyone who participated in a Treasure Hunt this year.

Please come to our evening meeting on Wednesday, December 5th to hear more about the 2012 Rare Plant Treasure Hunt & see pictures of the plants we documented this past summer.

Rare plant treasure hunters at Osa Meadows

You Won't Find Plants by Looking Up!
Award-winning photo by Rich LaShure

The Red Jeepsters Score Rare Plants and Awards in the 2011 Rare Plant Treasure Hunt

The results are in for the 2011 Rare Plant Treasure Hunt, a state-wide collaboration between CNPS & the Department of Fish and Game to update data on rare plants and their associated habitats. The Red Jeepsters team (Kathy & Rich LaShure of Inyokern & the Creosote Ring subchapter) were declared Intrepid Treasure Hunters, the Second Place designation for team awards. Rich also received a Third Place for his photograph of the subchapter field trip to Osa Meadows in late August.

The LaShures began their adventures in the spring, exploring desert locations, with their first rare plant sighting on April 3, the Glamour Girl of local flora, Phacelia nashiana, Charlotte’s Phacelia. When the weather warmed, they moved to higher terrain, making a dozen trips to the Kern Plateau between June and the end of October. In all, documentation (both the required CNDDB form and supporting photographs) was submitted for 35 occurrences of 16 rare species. Of these 24 were new occurrences, 5 were updated recent occurrences, and 7 updated historic (older than 20 years) occurrences.

Rare plant treasure hunters at Osa Meadows

Fritillaria pinetorum, photo by Kathy LaShure

Kathy’s favorite was the dainty Phacelia orogenes, Mountain Phacelia, which occurred in carpets in several locations. Rich was fascinated by the bold stems of weirdly-marked Fritillaria pinetorum, Pine Fritillary, also found in more than one meadow. The most unusual find had to be Cordylanthus eremicus ssp. kernensis, Kern Plateau Bird's-beak, found almost as an after-thought on a late season expedition to see aspens in their golden fall garb along Jackass Creek. Another Bird’s-beak, Cordylanthus rigidus ssp. brevibracteatus, was the last find of the season on Oct. 28.

Plans are already being made for more expeditions next year. Kathy is now authorized to use the DFG’s RareFind database, making research easier. The Red Jeepsters hope to find additional populations of some of this year’s species, as well as targeting several new species and also looking in some locations near the Chimney Peak By-way at the southern edge of the Sierra Nevada range.

More Rare Plant Treasure Hunt Photos: Sidalcea multifida, Viola pinetorum ssp grisea and PDF of Kern Plateau Rare Plants of 2011.

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News Archives

Ridgecrest Solar Power Project:

Cause for Celebration
An update on the Ridgecrest Solar Power Plant project

Can I have a round of applause please? Or three “Hip, Hip Hoorays”? Or just a loud “Yippee!”? Yes, it’s true the Ridgecrest Solar Power Plant project is officially history. In a letter dated Jan. 21, 2011 Solar Millennium withdrew its application for this project. In their own words “A review of the process and staff position on the project strongly suggests success is unlikely.” In other words the continuing CEC biological staff assertion that the site should not be disturbed was not going to change, even with a Mojave Ground Squirrel genetic connectivity study (which Solar Millennium proposed).

While those of us who opposed this ill-conceived project from a local and personal perspective can give ourselves some credit for standing up to Big Industry, we really owe the CEC staff a huge “Thank You.” Not only did the biological staff perform professionally, but the other CEC staff, those in charge of this project’s approval process, also carried out the proceedings in a thorough and thoughtful manner. Thanks should also go to the official Intervors: the Center for Biological Diversity (Ileene Anderson and Lisa Belenky); Desert Tortoise Council (Sid Silliman); Basin And Range Watch (Laura Cunningham and Kevin Emmerick); Western Watersheds Project (Michael J. Connor); Kerncrest Audubon (Brenda and Dan Burnett and Terri Middlemiss); California Unions for Reliable Energy (Elizabeth Klebaner). These groups and their representatives brought a wide array of expertise to the table, making sure that Solar Millennium did not slip anything over on us.

In celebration of this outcome my husband and I have spent three mornings in the past two weeks exploring the northern edge of the El Paso Mountains that overlook the site. Last Saturday we climbed the large volcanic hill just to the west of the site. While it was tempting to gaze downward at all the little green wildflower sprouts, the larger picture was more important. From the top we looked out over the El Paso Wash alluvial plain. My heart was full of gratitude that the fully functioning ecosystem below would remain a home for Desert Tortoises, Mojave Ground Squirrels, Desert Kit Foxes, LeConte’s Thrashers, Western Burrowing Owls and all the native plants that support them. It was a wonderful sight!

Kathy LaShure
Creosote Ring Leader

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Hurray for the Little Guys!
Update on the Ridgecrest Solar Power Plant Project

I could also have titled this report “Creeping but Not Yet Dead” as the approval process for this ill-conceived project has slowed considerably since last spring. At that time, we thought recommendations would be made by both the BLM and the California Energy Commission (CEC) in time for final rulings by the end of this calendar year with construction to begin in 2011, if the project was approved.

However, once the CEC Staff Assessment/Draft Environmental Impact Report (SA/DEIR) was released in late March it became apparent that the CEC approval schedule would likely change (the BLM timetable was & remains different). This was due to the CEC staff’s findings that the biological resources of the proposed site could not be mitigated, nor could the visual impacts. This is the first time that CEC staff has made such an unequivocal finding for preserving a site and its intact, fully functioning ecosystem.

Their decision was based on the high number of Desert Tortoises of all ages and the functioning genetic corridor for Mojave Ground Squirrels. Of course neither of these species would thrive without high quality habitat. The Creosote Ring’s plant survey on April 17 showed just that. 23 participants helped to document the annual and perennial plant species found on the proposed RSPP site. 72 species from 25 plant families were observed, indicating a complex well-functioning ecosystem. Especially note-worthy were the existence of Winter Fat (Krascheninnikovia lanata) and Spiny Hop-Sage (Grayia spinosa), indicators of Mojave Ground Squirrel habitat and, perhaps more importantly, the occurrence of many preferred food plants for both juvenile and adult Desert Tortoises.

At the opening of the May 3-4 public workshops we were most pleased to hear Dick Anderson, CEC biologist, reference our plant list. Jane McEwen's terrific research documenting the preferred Desert Tortoise food plant observed bolstered CEC's position that this is a unique site. During the workshops Dave Hacker (CA Dept. Fish and Game) very strongly supported the need to preserve biological connectivity for the Mojave Ground Squirrel and Desert Tortoise as well. It was clear that the mitigation measures proposed by Solar Millennium do not meet the requirements of DFG & USFWS.

There are some other major issues with RSPP besides the biological and visual ones. The plan is to use trucked-in propane to keep the transfer fluid thin enough to work. We think that they have greatly underestimated how much propane they will need, as our fall-winter-spring air temps are lower than they have allowed for. This will increase the cost of generation, the carbon foot-print and traffic. Ridgecrest sits downwind of the site giving concerns about Valley Fever with the grading of such a large area (over 2000 acres). They claim mitigation will control 75% of the dust but that leaves 25% than can infect people. Valley Fever is not a fun disease.

Over the next weeks and months many excellent comment letters from both environmental organizations and private citizens were submitted to both the CEC & BLM (http://tinyurl.com/2dmkv2c). Most have supported the position that this project would irreparably alter a biological treasure and should not be built. I wrote a detailed letter for CNPS. The Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake also wrote two letters expressing their considerable concerns.

Then on June 30, Solar Millennium requested a suspension of their application. They proposed conducting a 2-year survey to study connectivity issues for local populations of Mojave Ground Squirrels. This was approved by the CEC but the BLM approval process continues to move forward on its own timetable. After the July 8 mandatory status conference Solar Millennium realized that this request needed to be modified as it was perceived as “a complete halt to all activities.” Therefore on Aug. 8 Solar Millennium asked for the suspension to be changed to “a modification of … milestones.” We will have to wait to see what this really means.

However, since Solar Millennium has two other California sites (Blythe and Palen) moving through the approval process, they may be hoping that approval of one or both of them will give them additional monetary resources to put into Ridgecrest down the road. In the meantime, we should not be complacent, thinking that the little guys (Mojave Ground Squirrels) will do the heavy lifting for us. We must continue to monitor the CEC website for developments and maintain contacts with the excellent interveners. I am particularly grateful to two of them: Dan Burnett (Creosote Ring member and Kerncrest Audubon intervener) and Ileene Anderson (personal friend, Center for Biological Diversity biologist/intervener, and desert expert extraordinaire). My personal crash course in conservation work would have been far less successful without their generosity and dedication.

— Kathy LaShure

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Thank you to everyone who submitted comments to the California Energy Commission (CEC) and BLM about the Ridgecrest Solar Power Project (RSPP).

Click here for a PDF file of the letter I sent, as Creosote Ring Coordinator, to both the CEC & BLM. The plant list generated by the Creosote Ring April field trip to the RSPP site is available here. If you have not been reading the comment letters as they are posted on the CEC website here’s the link: http://tinyurl.com/26nhrwp. The latest posting was from the Naval Air Warfare Center, towards the bottom of the list, with points that no one else could make.

As for where we are in the permitting process, this site was taken off fast-track schedule in May, which means that the original timetable was scrapped. A new schedule will not be set until late September, after the publication of the Revised Staff Assessment. However, two additional biological workshops are to be scheduled, one still in June & another in July. There are no precise dates for these yet. As I will be out of the loop for the next several weeks due to family concerns, please check here http://tinyurl.com/23zo4tk for schedule postings.

Again, if you are not on Don & Judy Decker's email list for updates on Ridgecrest Solar Power Project, you may wish to contact Don ddecker@ridgenet.net. The Deckers have been providing excellent summaries of all the action.

click for photo album of proposed solar power project site

Click for Album
(opens in new window)

To the left is an online photo album showing the area of 2002 acres that will be bulldozed and scraped bare if the proposed Ridgecrest Solar Power Project is approved. The photos were taken between February and April, 2010, just a brief sample of the scenery and flora that will be competely and irreplaceably destroyed. Many of these spring flowers are food plants for the desert tortoise which still live here, as well kit fox, burrowing owl, lizards, and snakes, signs of which are evident is one takes the time to look.

Below is a field trip report for the area for more information.

If you want to read up on the permitting process, here is the link to the CEC site for RSPP:
http://www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/solar_millennium_ridgecrest/index.html

Kathy LaShure,
Creosote Ring Leader

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Field Trip Report: El Paso Wash, April 17, 2010

It’s been a late and balky spring in the Indian Wells Valley. But 23 individuals showed up on a glorious (i.e. calm wind/warm temperature) morning to explore the El Paso Wash drainage southwest of Ridgecrest. Solar Millennium, LLC has proposed to use nearly 4000 acres of BLM land there for a 250-megawatt solar thermal electric power plant. The project site lies just northeast of the El Paso Mountains and is bisected by Brown Road (old Highway 395) forming a north field and a south field. The first iteration of the plan had the facility partially sited in the El Paso Wash proper. That was changed after the first public meetings in Dec. 2009. Now it is sited on both sides of the Wash. But the entire site is in an historic drainage, as evidenced by the tumbled appearance of the rocks there.

The original purpose of the field trip, as planned in January, was to informally survey the flora of this area. No rare plants were known to occur there, but that may be because no one had looked in the right place or at the right time. However, fauna there has been well-documented. The most significant species are Desert Tortoise, Mojave Ground Squirrel, Desert Kit Fox, Burrowing Owl, LeConte’s Thrasher, and Loggerhead Shrike. Of course theses animals would not be present without the specific plant resources needed for food and shelter.

Once CNPS hired Amber Swanson as Rare Plant Treasure Hunt coordinator for the Mojave Desert, she agreed to trek north from her Claremont home-base and help us survey the flora. She provided a list of specific rare plants that have been known to occur not far away in other El Paso Mountains locations. So we kept an eye out for them as well. We also had other participants from Southern California.

The trip’s participants amiably split into two survey groups. Jane McEwen and Judy Breitenstein led the exploration of the north field which lies to the east of the broad, braided El Paso Wash. The second group tackled the south field on the west side of the drainage and was led by Amber Swanson and Kathy LaShure. We did not hope to cover the entire large footprint of the proposed solar site, but did the best we could in a single morning.

No rare plants were found by either group. But the combined plant list has 70 species in 25 families, indicating a diverse flora. Many known Desert Tortoise preferred food plants were documented. If you would like a copy of the plant list please contact Kathy LaShure, desert_encelia@verizon.net.

The Draft EIR/Staff Assessment was released on April 9 and the BLM comment period extends for 90 days from that date. Information about the DEIR can be accessed here: http://tinyurl.com/2cugk79. The Creosote Ring subchapter is working with Greg Suba, CNPS State Conservation Director, to be sure that our response to this poorly sited facility is as effective as possible.

— Kathy LaShure

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Wildflower Alert!

4/16/2010: A sub-chapter member reports there are amazing blooms in Kelso Valley: take Hwy 178 to Kelso Creek Rd and keep going south til you see the orange and purple on the slopes to the west. There is also a slope full of Baby Blue eyes.

Click on the images below for larger pictures.

Kelso Valley Wildflowers
Kelso Valley Wildflowers
Kelso Valley Wildflowers

Meeting Report

Our February evening program was on Wednesday, February 3 at 7 PM at the Maturango Museum. First we talked briefly about our participation the Rare Plant Treasure Hunt being organized by the State CNPS office and chose some dates & locations for 2010 field trips. Then CR member Jane McEwen presented Desert Microbial Life Matters:

Jane shared preliminary results of her investigation of microbial mats growing in the wash in Poison Canyon illustrated with her photographs as well as with photomicrographs taken by Wayne Lanier, PhD. These microbial mats are highly photosynthetic, as evidenced from the prolific production oxygen bubbles. The small spring-fed stream in Poison Canyon was covered with colorful masses of microbes up until the recent rainstorms. Now that the flood has washed away almost all signs of the microbial mats, Jane plans to study the recovery of the microbial community over the next year.

She also presented photographs, photomicrographs and samples of soil crust collected northeast of Searles Lake. Cyanobacterial filaments bind soil particles into a crust, referred to as cryptobiotic or microbiotic soil crusts. These soil crusts reduce soil loss from wind and water erosion and also provide a living mulch that retains soil moisture. The cyanobacteria in the soil crust are photosynthetically active when enough moisture is present. They also fix nitrogen from the atmosphere making it available for plant growth in the desert soils, which other wise are low in nitrogen.

For those of you interested in more information on microbial life such as those found in salt marshes and soil crusts see Wayne Lanier's archived website http://www.hikingwithafieldmicroscope.com/ and Wayne Lanier's and his colleague Cris Benton's website: http://ostro.ced.berkeley.edu/~crisr/he/.

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Field Trip Suggestions

For current information about our activities, please contact Kathy LaShure, subchapter coordinator: (desert_encelia@verizon.net or 760-377-4541). We have an email notification list for current activities. Also, be sure and check the main Bristlecone Chapter Events page for events a little farther north!

Calochortus Venustus

Butterfly Mariposa Lily, photo by Kathy LaShure

Here are some more suggestions for native plant activities now and over the summer months:

Last Friday (May 27), Rich & I hiked the Flynn Creek trail that starts at McNally's above Kernville. You cross the roaring Kern River on the bridge & turn south. Above the split with the Tobias Creek Trail (about 1-1.25 miles in) there are thousands of Calochortus venustus (Butterfly Mariposa Lily), more than I've seen anywhere else. The bloom should still be good this weekend as there were lots of buds.

On the drive west on Hwy 178 just past the Canebrake Reserve (large new sign), on the south side of the road there is a magnificent population of Mojave Bush Penstemon (Penstemon incertus) just coming into full bloom (& there is room on that side of the road to safely pull off & park for photos).

If you don't want to drive that far, Paul Decker shared the location of a huge colony of Sand Plant (Desert Christmas Tree) Pholisma arenaria here in Inyokern. Here are some of his photos of those strange plants:

[Click on the images for larger pictures]

Pholisma arenaria
Pholisma arenaria
Pholisma arenaria
Pholisma arenaria

Finally, if you aren't up to getting out, here are 3 websites with lots of interesting information & wonderful pictures:

As always, I hope each of you has a terrific summer with close encounters of the native plant kind!

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Wildflower Guides and Creosote Information

Clone Ring of Creosote bushes, estimated to be 11,700 years old, quite possibly the oldest living thing.

Quite possibly the oldest living things (even older than the ancient Bristlecone Pines), Creosote rings are formed by cloning as new growth sprouts up around the perimeter of the original shrub. This is the oldest known Creosote ring, "King Clone," which is located south of us in the Mojave Chapter's territory.

Guides to local wildflower hotspots and Mojave shrubs:

Each brochure also includes when to go, how to get there & a short description of the most noteworthy wildflowers to be seen. Please click on any link for a printable PDF of these guides.

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Information about our sub-chapter namesake, the Creosote Bush:

Creosote Ring and Owens Peak

Creosote Ring with Owens Peak in the background
Photo by Kathy LaShure