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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 3, 2021, Wednesday, 7-8pm: Fire and Ecosystem Resiliency, CNPS Mt. Lassen Chapter, Virtual Program

Pete Warner, a botanist and plant ecologist hailing from Sonoma County, will provide a brief survey of some of the ecological effects of vegetation fires, focusing on recent burns and native plant populations in Sonoma County, and discuss the complex relationships of factors and effects associated with wildfires and ecological resiliency (e.g., climate, species evolution, land management practices). Visit https://mountlassen.cnps.org/ to sign up for the Zoom meeting.

For more CNPS Virtual Events from various chapters, see cnps.org/event/virtual-native-plant-events

CNPS Event February 4, Thursday, 5:30 pm: Naturehood Gardening: Seasonal Aesthetics for the Native Garden, State CNPS Virtual Program

Your garden can both look beautiful and provide habitat year-round. Join in on the virtual program to learn from gardeners across California. Register for this event and then check your email for your unique link to join the webinar. Contact: David, dbryant@cnps.org

For more CNPS Virtual Events from various chapters, see cnps.org/event/virtual-native-plant-events

February 13 2021, Saturday, 1-5pm: Fiddleheads! Become fern fluent! Carl Rothfels and Cindy Looy, Jepson Herbarium Workshop (Hosted ONLINE - Workshop is full! Wait list only.)

This course will be an introduction to the ferns of the world, with a focus on species that can be observed in the wild in California. We will learn the basics of fern morphology (What is an indusium? Is a frond just a leaf by another name?), fern ecology (including the spectacular desert ferns of the southwest), and fern evolution (Are ferns “ancient” plants? What are their closest living relatives? Why did all the Cheilanthes in California just become Myriopteris?). We’ll end the course with a virtual tour of the major groups of ferns and their representatives here in California. The goal is to turn all course participants into skilled fern-observers: when next you see a fern you’ll understand what it is, what it does, how it does it, and where it came from, evolutionarily-speaking. Some keying of fern specimens will also be involved. Course Fee: $75 general public and $50 for members of the Friends of the Jepson Herbarium. Register for the wait list here and see more Jepson Herbarium Workshops here.

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.

February 27 2021, Saturday, 1-5pm: Life in the Carboniferous swamps, Cindy Looy and Ivo Duijnstee, Jepson Herbarium Workshop (Hosted ONLINE)

The Carboniferous (359-299 million years ago) is an exceptionally interesting period in Earth’s history. Geographically, ecologically, atmospherically, and climatically, the world was unlike anything we see today. What are now Europe and America formed the Euramerican floral realm, an equatorial located landmass with little topography. In the later parts of the Carboniferous, the Euramerican region was periodically covered by widespread peat swamps. These swamps were dominated by tall lycopod trees, giant horsetail relatives, tree ferns and seed ferns, making for an alien looking, Dr. Seuss-like landscape. In this workshop you will get acquainted with the plants that inhabited these wetlands and the unusual conditions that facilitated them, and you will learn how we reconstruct these plants and their communities in incredible detail.

Course Fee: $75 general public and $50 for members of the Friends of the Jepson Herbarium.

Register for this workshop here and see more Jepson Herbarium Workshops here.

CNPS Event March 23, Tuesday, 7:00 pm El Dorado Chapter, CNPS Virtual Program: Living with Wildfire, Speaker: Alice Cantelow

Is it possible to garden with native plants and still have a fire safe landscape? Is there a way to balance the desires to foster habitat, conserve water, and still have effective defensible space? Yes and yes! It can be tricky though. Alice Cantelow, chapter president, will share her extensive reading of what works and what doesn’t work to help homes survive—from statistical studies of recent, large wildfires to research using actual experiments. Living in the Sierra foothills comes with the responsibility to be fire smart and fire ready, from the plants in your yard to your home itself. Alice will give practical tips to help you make your home more resilient to wildfire, whether you live in oak savannah, chaparral, oak woodland, or forest ecosystems. This presentation is open to the public and free of charge. Find the Zoom Meeting link at https://eldoradocnps.org/news-events/meetings

March 23, Tuesday, 6:30 pm-8:00 pm Friends of the Inyo Virtual Event: Behind the Scenes: Trail Ambassadors in Death Valley National Park, Speakers: Alex Ertaud and Lindsay Butcher

Look behind the scenes at the work to erase vehicle trespass on the delicate dry lake beds of Death Valley National Park. Join Friends of the Inyo Stewardship Director Alex Ertaud and Trail Ambassador Lindsay Butcher as they share their experiences working in Death Valley National Park effacing vehicle trespass on the delicate desert playas. Because of the unique geography and climate of Death Valley, tire tracks left by travelers who decided to drive off the designated road scar the landscape. In partnership with the National Park Service, our Trail Ambassadors work to remove these scars to restore the beautiful landscapes as well as prevent others from following those tracks and further damaging the lake bed. This work is a one of a kind experience. Learn about the techniques, triumphs, and challenges of working in the remote Death Valley National Park. Please register at: friendsoftheinyo.salsalabs.org/bts-death-valley-national-park/

CNPS Event Bristlecone Chapter's Mar. 24th Doug Tallamy presentation has been canceled for a more time-sensitive event happening at the same time. We encourage members to attend the upcoming event that would affect our "big backyard" - see Town Hall event below. March 24, Wednesday, 7pm: CNPS Bristlecone Chapter Event: Nature’s Best Hope, A talk by Doug Tallamy - Online - Meeting link will be made available beforehand. Watch for this event to be rescheduled!

Recent headlines about global insect declines and three billion fewer birds in North America are a bleak reality-check about how ineffective our current land management practices have been at sustaining the plants and animals that sustain us. Such losses are not an option if we wish to continue our current standard of living on Planet Earth. The good news is that none of this is inevitable. Doug Tallamy will discuss simple steps that each of us can -and must- take to reverse declining biodiversity and will explain why we, ourselves, are nature’s best hope.

Doug Tallamy is a professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, where he has authored 103 research publications and has taught insect related courses for 40 years. Chief among his research goals is to better understand the many ways insects interact with plants and how such interactions determine the diversity of animal communities. His book, Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens, was published by Timber Press in 2007 and was awarded the 2008 Silver Medal by the Garden Writers' Association. The Living Landscape, co-authored with Rick Darke, was published in 2014. Doug’s new book, Nature’s Best Hope, released by Timber Press in February 2020, is a New York Times Best Seller.

Elaine Kabala, Associate Planner for Bishop Ms. Kabala has agreed to join our meeting to discuss planned or potential garden projects around town.

CNPS Event March 24, Wednesday, 6pm: Make your voice heard! K2 Gold and Mojave Precious Metals Town Hall: An opportunity to share your support for protecting Conglomerate Mesa with K2 Gold and Mojave Precious Metals.

Bristlecone Chapter's Mar. 24th Doug Tallamy presentation has been canceled for a more time-sensitive event happening at the same time. We encourage members to attend this upcoming event that would affect our "big backyard." K2 Gold and their subsidiary, Mojave Precious Metals, are hosting a virtual town hall Wednesday, March 24th, at 6 PM. From Inyo350: "We must rise up and stand together to protect Conglomerate Mesa. Now is the time to let K2 Gold know that mining at Conglomerate Mesa is not welcome! K2 is proposing to open up a wild and remote part of the west Mojave desert on the edge of Death Valley National Park to destructive drilling accessed by miles of new road construction with the intent of eventually constructing an open-pit cyanide heap leach gold mine. We encourage you to ask questions and make statements that are important to you. If you need inspiration, this past Sunday, the LA Times ran a great article on Conglomerate Mesa. This article raises a number of questions that you can pass along to K2 Gold. Stand for Native Lands. Stand for the wildlife. Stand For Conglomerate Mesa."

Register for the Town Hall

Learn more about the campaign to save Conglomerate Mesa: protectconglomeratemesa.com

CNPS Event Late March- Early May, Mondays-Thursdays: Eureka Dunes Rare Plant Surveys - Volunteers Needed!

Death Valley National Park is looking for botanists to assist with the 2021 Eureka Dunes rare plant surveys. The target species are the endemic Eureka Dunes evening primrose (Oenothera californica ssp. eurekensis) and Eureka dunegrass (Swallenia alexandrae).

Surveys involve hiking long distances (10+ miles) over uneven, steep, sandy terrain with full solar exposure, heat and frequently windy conditions. The monitoring will take place generally Monday-Thursday from late March until early May. We will camp at the Eureka Dunes Campground. No services are available except for a pit toilet.

This is a unique opportunity to explore the dune system and enjoy the magnificent scenery of the Eureka Valley while documenting the extent and health of plants unique to Death Valley.

Plan to follow current Covid-19 guidelines. Please contact Carol Fields for additional information: carol_fields@nps.gov

CNPS Event Late March- Early May, Mondays-Thursdays: Eureka Dunes Rare Plant Surveys - Volunteers Needed!

Death Valley National Park is looking for botanists to assist with the 2021 Eureka Dunes rare plant surveys. The target species are the endemic Eureka Dunes evening primrose (Oenothera californica ssp. eurekensis) and Eureka dunegrass (Swallenia alexandrae).

Surveys involve hiking long distances (10+ miles) over uneven, steep, sandy terrain with full solar exposure, heat and frequently windy conditions. The monitoring will take place generally Monday-Thursday from late March until early May. We will camp at the Eureka Dunes Campground. No services are available except for a pit toilet.

This is a unique opportunity to explore the dune system and enjoy the magnificent scenery of the Eureka Valley while documenting the extent and health of plants unique to Death Valley.

Plan to follow current Covid-19 guidelines. Please contact Carol Fields for additional information: carol_fields@nps.gov

CNPS Event April 7, Wednesday, 7pm: Mt. Lassen Chapter CNPS Virtual Program: Living with Bumble Bees, Speaker: John Whittlesey

John Whittlesey, proprietor of Canyon Creek Nursery & Design, has been photographing, observing, and learning about flower visitors of all kinds for over a decade. He will share photos taken from his homestead of bumble bee inhabitants while weaving a discussion of their life history and anecdotes of "living with bumble bees." He will conclude with plants to plant that invite bumble bees to live in your garden. For more information about John, his talk, and the Zoom link for the meeting, go to mountlassen.cnps.org/.

For more CNPS Virtual Events from various chapters, see cnps.org/event/virtual-native-plant-events

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

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

April 17, Saturday, 11-12: Virtual Pollinator Garden Workshop: “Establishing and Maintaining Your Native Plants, Trade Secrets from a Restoration Ecologist” presented by Julie Fontaine, Eastern Sierra Land Trust

Virtual Workshop and Q&A Session: “Establishing and Maintaining Your Native Plants, Trade Secrets from a Restoration Ecologist” presented by Julie Fontaine. Join Julie and ESLT in this initial virtual workshop to kick off the “Growing Together” series of sharing gardening tips, tricks, and information in our Eastside community! Julie will be sharing her knowledge as a restoration ecologist and soil specialist on how to take care of native plants in this informational workshop. To RSVP & for more information, email Gabrielle at gabrielle@eslt.org.

CNPS Event May 3, Monday, 12-1pm: Virtual Pollinator Garden Workshop Series: Eastern Sierra Native Plant Gardening, Eastern Sierra Land Trust-Bristlecone Chapter Event - ONLINE - NOTE: ESLT has been having occaisional issues with their website - if you get an "internal server error" message, refresh your browser and it will likely fix it.

Katie Quinlan The Plant Sales and Greenhouse Manager of the Bristlecone chapter, will share what plants do well in a garden locally and highlight what plants will be available at the Spring Plant Sale. Check the Eastern Sierra Land Trust website for updates on how to attend: eslt.org/event/virtual-pollinator-garden-workshop-native-plants/

In this live, informative webinar, we’ll discuss what California native plants will work best to beautify your garden this season. Q&A session with Katie Quinlan will be held at the second half of the webinar. For more information and to RSVP, email Gabrielle at gabrielle@eslt.org.

CNPS Event May 7, Monday, 12-1pm: Virtual Pollinator Garden Workshop Series: Gardening for Pollinators with Pete Pumphrey, Eastern Sierra Land Trust Event - ONLINE - NOTE: ESLT has been having occasional issues with their website - if you get an "internal server error" message, refresh your browser and it will likely fix it.

Join Pete Pumphrey, previous Eastern Sierra Audubon Society President and a wealth of knowledge on gardening for the right kind of animals in mind for this workshop in the Growing Together Series.

He’ll share a wealth of knowledge on gardening for the right kind of animals, including native and migrating pollinators. Bring your questions for the Q&A session. For more information and to RSVP, email Gabrielle at gabrielle@eslt.org.

CNPS Event May 10-14, Spring Native Plant Sale - ONLINE, Bristlecone Chapter CNPS event. 

Our online store for the plant sale is NOW LIVE from 8 am Monday, May 10th through Friday, May 14th to place your orders. The URL for the plant sale site is california-native-plant-society.square.site/shop/bristlecone/32. Participate in the Bristlecone Chapter’s Online Plant Sale to purchase your garden’s native plants for the spring season. Invite passing pollinators to your outdoor space and celebrate the new gardening season! Once orders are submitted, buyers will receive instructions to schedule pick up for their orders at White Mountain Research Center (3000 E. Line St., Bishop) on Saturday, May 15th. Click here for a list of plants that will be available.

Directions for the Online Plant Sale: 

  1. Click on the PLANT you want, select the SIZE option (if there is one), making sure to select an option that also says "BRI"for the Bristlecone Chapter is after the option you choose.
  2. Choose Store Pickup and make sure it is "White Mountain Research Center" 
  3. Choose the QUANTITY you would like.
  4. Click Add to Cart
  5. When you are done shopping, click CHECKOUT
  6. Fill in your details - providing your email and phone number are necessary in case there is a question about your order.  Click NEXT
  7. Fill in your payment information and “Apply”
  8. Review and submit your order
  9. Print out your order.  At the bottom of the order will be information about who ordered it,  your contact information, and your pickup time and location. 
  10. NOTE THAT PICK-UP TIME IS BETWEEN 9-1 ON SATURDAY MAY 15TH. 
  11. MASKS ARE REQUIRED
  12. If you have the black pots to return don’t forget to bring them and a box to bring your plants home in is appreciated.

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 May 12, Wednesday, 6pm: CNPS Bristlecone Chapter Board Meeting, ONLINE

Location: All members are always welcome to join. To obtain a link for the meeting, contact Kathleen Nelson.

CNPS Event May 14, Monday, 12-1pm: Virtual Pollinator Garden Workshop Series: Cultivating Creativity in Your Garden with Roberta Lagomarsini Eastern Sierra Land Trust Event - ONLINE - NOTE: ESLT has been having occasional issues with their website - if you get an "internal server error" message, refresh your browser and it will likely fix it.

Eastern Sierra Land Trust is hosting Roberta Lagomarsini to help you spark your inner creativity and add personal touches to your own yard. Roberta will share her own experience and ideas of turning her outdoor space into not only a space for plants and pollinators, but a space for art and originality.

For more information and to RSVP, email Gabrielle at gabrielle@eslt.org.

CNPS Event May 19, Wednesday, 5:30 pm: iNaturalist in Bishop City Park: Socially-distanced Introductory Workshop with Marty Purdy, Bristlecone Chapter Presentation

Are you interested in citizen science? Want to turn your nature photos into biodiversity data that can be used by scientists and naturalists from around the world? If so, then iNaturalist is for you! iNaturalist is a worldwide biodiversity database and social network for naturalists and scientists. Join Bristlecone Chapter Education Chair and botany graduate student Marty Purdy for an introduction to the app and mini BioBlitz in Bishop City Park. This socially-distanced outdoor program will include a brief introduction to the functionality of the iNaturalist app vs. the website, how to contribute high-quality biodiversity data to the platform, and a collaborative effort to document as much wild biodiversity within Bishop City Park as possible! iNaturalist beginners and veterans are welcome. Smartphones with the iNaturalist app downloaded and an iNaturalist account are required for full participation.

Meet at Bishop City Park at 5:30 pm, Wed., May 19, under the veranda just west of the Senior Center (682 Spruce St).  Remember to bring your mask – participants will be required to wear one. Need help getting the app on your phone? Show up 15 minutes early and we can help.

May 25, Tuesday, 6:00 pm-7:30 pm: Film Viewing and Panel Discussion of Paya: The Water Story of the Paiute, hosted by Teri Red Owl

Paya: The Water Story of the Paiute tells the untold story of America’s longest lived water war between the Owens Valley Paiute and the city of Los Angeles. Find updates and more information at http://www.oviwc.org/paya-movie/.

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.

July 7-10, Wednesday-Saturday: Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust, Lee Vining, Bishop, Big Pine, and Lone Pine

From the majestic peaks of the snow-capped Sierra to the parched valley of Payahuunadü, “the land of flowing water,” Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust poetically weaves together memories of intergenerational women. Native Americans, Japanese-American WWII incarcerees, and environmentalists form an unexpected alliance to defend their land and water from Los Angeles. A free screening tour of this documentary film includes panel discussions, featuring director and producer Ann Kaneko and local community organizers. Screenings will be held for one evening at each of four locations: Wednesday, July 7, 7:30 pm, Solar Pavilion, Lee Vining; Thursday, July 8, 7:30 pm, Tri-County Fairgrounds, Bishop; Friday, July 9, 6:30 pm, Alan Spoonhunter Memorial Gymnasium (1050 S. Richards St.), Big Pine; and Saturday July 10, 7:00 pm, Tribal Gym, (975 Teya Road), Lone Pine. For additional information, visit: https://sierrawave.net/manzanar-diverted-whenwater- becomes-dust-comes-to-payahuunadu-forscreening- tour/

July 17, Saturday, 8am: Bodie Mountain Summit Hike, Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership & Friends of the Inyo

Join Jora Fogg and Wendy Schneider from the Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership for a spectacular hike with panoramic views of Mono Lake and the Bodie Hills. Hikers will learn about the plants and species that call this area home, and the coalition’s efforts to protect the area from industrial open pit gold mining. This high elevation landscape is important habitat for the Bi-state Sage Grouse, pronghorn, and many other species. There is a limited number of participants so please go to https://friendsoftheinyo.org/event/bodiemountain- summit-hike/ to sign up soon and then receive the event’s updates.

CNPS Event July 21, Wednesday: Casual Picnic /Get-Together(6pm) and Presentation (7pm): A Novel Mountain Rockcress of the Eastern Sierra, Speaker: Tamsen Dunn; In-Person and Zoom Options for Attendance! Bishop City Park - details below. Bristlecone Chapter Event .

In 2004, Dr. Alison Colwell, Yosemite Rare Plant Specialist (now curator of the UC Davis Herbarium) collected an inconspicuous, intermediate-looking mustard plant high in the Clark range in southeastern Yosemite. She sent seeds to her colleague Dr. Elizabeth Waters at SDSU to grow and analyze, who discovered that the plant had unusual heat tolerance, surpassing even its desert-dwelling relatives. Genetic analysis showed that this strange plant, labeled “FW1102,” conformed to no known species, but contained sub-genomes of three other Boechera lineages. Intrigued, graduate student Tamsen Dunn decided to investigate further. Tamsen’s presentation will describe potential sites in Inyo and Mono counties where FW1102 may have been found in the past. She will share what we know of this interesting plant and may also bring a live specimen from SDSU to show the group and let chapter members know where they can keep a lookout for these special plants in the mountains!

Tamsen is a third-year graduate student in the joint doctoral program at San Diego State University and the University of California Riverside, where she is studying evolutionary biology, with an emphasis on botany and genomics. After 10 years as a scientist at Illumina, Tamsen felt it was time to combine her interest in DNA with her love of native plants, conservation, and remote mountains. Tamsen's current research interests include molecular evolution, polyploidy, hybridization, and somatic variation. Tamsen enjoys rock climbing and collecting plant samples in the high Sierra with her young daughters.

Meet at Bishop City Park at 6:00 pm, Wednesday, July 21, under the veranda just west of the Senior Center (682 Spruce St). Picnic tables are available, but you may prefer your own chairs and/or picnic blankets. You may bring a dish to share, or if you are more comfortable not sharing food, bring your own food, snacks, and/or drinks.

Alternatively, attend by Zoom for the presentation at 7 pm. Zoom information: Topic: Bristlecone Chapter Dunn presentation Time: Jul 21, 2021 07:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada) Join Zoom Meeting

August 14, Saturday, 11-12:30: EKCRCD Plant Sale Presentation at the Maturango Museum (100 E Las Flores Ave, Ridgecrest), from Eastern Kern County Resource Conservation District

Madena Asbell, Director of Plant Conservation Programs at the Mojave Desert Land Trust, will talk about Native Plants for Sale at the 2021 EKCRCD Plant Sale. Ask questions of an expert and get your 2021 order sheet. The plant sale is scheduled for Saturday, 10/2/2021, at the Desert Empire Fairgrounds. See ekcrcd.org/plant-sale-presentation for more information.

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.

CNPS Event August 16-20: August Native Plant Sale - ONLINE with plant pick-up August 21 (click here for flyer) - Bristlecone Chapter Event

Participate in the Bristlecone Chapter’s Online Plant Sale to purchase your garden’s native plants for the fall season. Invite passing pollinators to your outdoor space and celebrate the new gardening season! Our online store for the plant sale will be live from Monday, August 16th through Friday, August 20th to place your orders. The URL for the plant sale site will be available before August 16th and will be posted here as well as emailed to current members (who allow email communication). Once orders are submitted, buyers will receive instructions to schedule pick up for their orders at White Mountain Research Center (3000 E. Line St., Bishop) on Saturday, August 21st. Click here for a list of plants that will be available (UPDATED). Prices: Small tree pots $5.00; Cactus pots $5; Gallon Pots $8.00; Tall tree pots $10.00; 5 gallon pots $25.00; 10 gallon pots $35.00. 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.

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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