Volume 2, No. 2 April 1983
THE CALIFORNIA NATIVE PLANT SOCIETY
The next meeting will be May 25 at 7:30 p.m. in the Superintendent of Schools building in Independence. The program will be slides of the DeDecker's recent trip to Costa Rica.
A highlight in our area since the last newsletter was the Congressional Field Hearing March 29 in Lee Vining for Congressman Lehman's bill, H.R. 1341. This would establish a Mono Lake National Monument. As reported in the local media the event was well attended and provided the opportunity for the public to participate in a federal legislative process which few of us otherwise enjoy. This was a formal Congressional Hearing conducted under the usual house rules. Testimony differed widely, from proposing no action to advocating wider protection than called for in the bill. Your CNPS Chapter was well represented. Four members spoke in favor of the bill, none opposed. Your president was the only one speaking for the Chapter and CNPS. It was a fulfilling experience. I was glad to be there to represent CNPS and, I hope, each one of you in urging the establishment of the Mono Lake National Monument.
The main objective of the May 28-30 field trip will be the Eureka Dunes. The group will camp there Saturday night. Photography should be at its best that evening. The Sunday night campsite will depend on the wishes of the group since there are several interesting alternatives. These will be dry camps, so bring plenty of water. Tents or camp cots are recommended for those who do not sleep in vehicles. Bring sun-screen lotion and insect repellent. Be prepared for cold nights. Part of the route will be on graded gravel roads. Four-wheel drive vehicles will not be necessary, but if there are enough of them to transport the group to Dedeckera canyon that would provide a special treat in a rare plant habitat.
The group will meet at 9:00 a.m. at the intersection north of Big Pine, by the little campground. Late comers may procede to the dunes as follows: hive east from the intersection and take the first right fork beyond the river, follow the Waucoba Road to the top of the grade where it becomes
the Loretto Road (do not take the right fork), continue on the main road through Little Cowhorn Valley and Joshua Flats, turning up over Lime Hill and then descending Loretto Wash to Eureka Valley, continuing across the valley. Just before reaching the Last Chance Mountains, the Eureka 'Dunes Road turns right, running southward about 10 miles to the dunes. It is about 50 miles from Big Pine. Be sure to start out with plenty of gas for the entire trip.
THREATS IN REMOTE PLACES
Two serious threats to remote plant habitats in Inyo County have come to light, both within the California Desert District. They are:
(1) California's only population of Astragalus lentiginosus var. sesquimetralis, the Sodaville milk-vetch, ig undoubtedly be wiped out 17 a proposed millsite is permitted at Sand Springs. This is in the upper Death Valley drainage, outside the monument. The plant is thought to be a relic of the Pleistocene Epoch, along with the pupfish, which has developed in isolation. Two more populations are known in neighboring Nevada. (Variety piscinensis, very close to ~sesquimetralis, was discovered in a similar habitat at Fish Slough in 1974.) The proposed millsite would be located right on the heart of the rare plant population. It would finish the destruction by drawing water from the pond for its operation. Sand Springs has been designated by BLM as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). This has been supported by the Inyo County Planning Department. Under the present administration, however, mining seems to have priority over all else. (Those of us who live in Inyo County have observed that only a small percentage of such mining ventures ever produce.)
(2) We who opposed plans by the Keynot Mine to build a road traversing a very steep slope of bristlecone pine forest were much relieved when the road project was dropped. The operation is to be done by helicopter. But now a more serious threat has appeared. The mining company plans to take the water flowing from Cove Springs and transport it over the ridge in a 6-inch pipeline to the Keynot Mine. Cove Spring is in the Beveridge Canyon drainage. Its water joins the flow in that canyon at a place enclosed by cliffs,making the finest aquatic unit in all of the Inyo Mountains. The loss of that water would mean an environmental disaster, one which cannot be justified in a true weighing of values. Each spring in a desert range is a center of life, and this one supports an outstanding habitat. The Inyo County Planning Department has not required an amended application for the taking of this water, even-tTough it means taking the flow from another canyon. (The original plan stated that the water needs would be met by using water at the mine site.) The attitude is that the effect of the diversion is unknown to Planning Department personnel who have not visited that remote place; therefore they feel no obligation to be concerned. This entire area on the east side of the range is under consideration for wilderness. This may be the real motivation for development.
PLANTS OF THE EUREKA 'DUNES AND THEIR BORDERS
1. Abronia turbinata. Sand verbena.
36. Malacothrix sonchoides. Yellow saucers.
NOTE: Remember to take this list on the May 28-30 Field Trip.
AN AUSTRALIAN BOTANIST SPEAKS OUT
The following quotation by L. A. S. Johnson, Director and Chief Botanist, Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney, Australia, is from a preface to a flora. "On the local front, resist by all legal means the unnecessary fouling of gullies by residential or other development at their heads, leading to mineral enrichment and choking by weeds. Resist 'reclaiming' (a profoundly dishonest word) of swamps. Prevent building on headlands and unnecessary artificial revegetation of sand-dunes. Oppose clearing, mowing, planting of roadsides; let the native vegetation or even harmless 'weeds' grow--they will support a rich life of invertebrate animals and some birds and other vertebrates." "On the broad front--the message has already been preached--respect man but do not worship him or the gods he has made in his image to favour his expansion at the worlds expense. Above all, remember and convince others that more people does not mean better people or a better world. If those who see these truths and care about them succeed, your grandchildren may yet survive and so may our distant relatives, the plants you admire in this book." We regret that space does not permit quoting the entire preface. Dr. Johnson's admonitions reflect grave concerns which have worldwide significance.
CNPS: BRISTLECONE CHAPTER ROSTER as of 3/26/83
Albert, Carroll Star Route 97-K (619)873-5841
Garrett, Stuart 361 NE Franklin
New members on the roster are Ann N. Howald, Matthew Leddy, Richard and Norma Swingler, and Lawrence Wylie. We extend a warm welcome.