Vol. 3, No. 5 October 1984

Bristlecone Chapter
Dedicated to the Preservation of the California Native Flora




The next meeting will be Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.. November 28. The place will be the County Schools building in Independence, 135 South Jackson Street, one block east of Highway 395. Turn at Austins' Store.

President's message:

My message for this issue will be an update on the water matter.

The Third District Court of Appeals recently issued a decision rejecting the "joint proposal" submitted by the County of Inyo and the City of Los Angeles. It ordered them to try again. It was made clear to both parties that the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) could not be evaded. The Court said of their plan, "It proposes what might be aptly described as a CEQA turkey shoot."

In discussing the joint proposal, the Court calls for a new stipulation dealing only with the matter of groundwater pumping. The order allows then to "pursue the meat of their proposal shorn of dubious byproducts." The Court is not interested in the by-products. If the parties do not agree on a stipulation as ordered and submit it by December 1, 1984, the City of Los Angeles must commence the CEQA process at once and be given only a year to complete it. Otherwise they may have more time. (It has been required for 11 years now.)

While the Court's opinion upheld the major concerns of the people of Owens Valley who opposed the agreement, it may have the effect of lulling then into a sense of false security. The battle is far from won; there is danger that it will be given away.

The result is that Inyo and Los Angeles are now working on two stipulations. One, concerned with groundwater, will go back to the Third District Court of Appeals. The other will address the remaining issues being negotiated and will not be submitted to that court. The latter allows for political hanky-panky which could allow excessive pumping, and yet be outside the scrutiny of that court.

The Court has put Inyo in the strongest position ever, but did not close the loopholes outside its jurisdiction. Inyo County officials are not expected to take advantage of this golden opportunity because they are being held hostage by the dollars involved. This was a danger pointed out by the people in the beginning. These items of the agreement will be addressed in the second stipulation. Issues continue to be clouded, also, by faulty analysis.

The dollars provide, among other things, money to operate the Inyo County Water Dept. It was created to implement the Groundwater Ordinance which it is now bypassing. It is political reality that the Water Department and its Water Commissioners, who are part of the negotiating team, give high priority to their own security. This is only a part of the hostage situation. Another large sum of money goes toward the in-depth environmental studies initiated by Inyo County. But now the county finds itself in a corner whereby they believe that continuation of the studies depends on the good will of Los Angeles. Proposed mitigation measures, which may be of questionable value for true mitigation, contain plums which would be hard to give up. As for the Board of Supervisors, they give the highest priority to dollars needed now as opposed to the future well being of Owens Valley. It seems, too, that they are being duped into assuming responsibilities that are rightfully the obligation of Los Angeles.

Public hearing have been promised, but that requirement was only a gesture last time. The 14 page opinion handed down by the Third Appellate Court is a most supportive document, but those who follow the issues are not optimistic. There is only a dim hope that Inyo officials will make use of the power handed to them.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . Mary DeDecker


President . . . . . . . . . . . Doris Fredendall
Vice-president . . . . . . . . Ann Yoder
Secretary . . . . . . . . . . . Frances Cholewa
Treasurer . . . . . . . . . . . Nancy Prather

Election of officers will be at the November 28 meeting. Additional nominations may be made at that time.


Since a significant percentage of our chapter members reside outside of Inyo-Mono, it cannot be expected that they will attend meetings on a regular basis. Therefore there may be occasions when we would lack a quorum to transact business. It is proposed that the following change be made in the by-laws to prevent that problem. It will be voted upon at the November 28 meeting.

ARTICLE III. Section 5.

Present paragraph: Ten percent of the chapter membership shall constitute a quorum when business is transacted or elections held. Signed proxies may be included in determining a quorum.

Proposed change: Ten percent of the chapter membership residing in Inyo and Mono counties shall constitute a quorum when business is transacted or elections held. This in no way deprives other members from voting. Signed proxies may be included in determining a quorum.

CORRECTION: Announcement of an October 31 meeting in the last issue was an error. Meetings are held on alternate months.


SADDLEBAG LAKE, September 8.

The combined Audubon-CNPS field trip to the Saddlebag Lake area was a delight for the 18 people who could make it. Although relatively few birds and plants were recorded, the area was stimulating and definitely calls for a return visit next year.

We learned that the prime time for flowers there is usually the last two weeks of August. As most plant life seen was in seed and beyond the best blooms this seemed reasonable. However we did see gentians, sedum, owl's clover, grass of Parnassus, columbine, asters, brittlefern, mountain heather, penstemon and paintbrush.

The 20-Lakes Basin is a large, roundish, glaciated valley at 10,000 feet, splattered with lakes, meadows, and streams. The resort at the south end of Saddlebag Lake offers a water taxi trip at reasonable cost to the north shore. There an old mining road leads into the Hoover Wilderness and provides easy access for a day hike.

Mike Prather led the group and helped us all with his able interpretive discussions.

PINYON FALLS, October 13.

October favored us with a beautiful Indian summer day for the trip to Pinyon Falls. The group chose to visit the rugged barrier above the falls first. The way led up Pinyon Mesa into a stand of scattered pinyon. On good years this slope is a veritable flower garden in May. Even in mid-October we found Eriogonum microthecum with fine yellow flowers in bloom, and an occasional perennial showed us a few late flowers. A variety of dormant shrubs were easily recognized by the more experienced, and others learned to know them as we enjoyed the leisurely hike.

The riparian area above the falls was enriched by cliffs and rock crevices which provided minihabitats. An abundance of Heuchera rubescens, alum root, showed up on seepage areas of a north exposure. Potentilla saxosa and Eriogonum saxatile gave evidence that it was indeed a rocky place. White fir trees were in decided contrast to the pinyon on the open slope. A little rock scrambling took us to a lunch spot overlooking the Heuchera garden.

After lunch a descent down a steep slope of decomposed granite took us to the foot of the falls. A ribbon of water made an impressive plunge down from the rocky barrier which was our lunch spot to this secluded basin watered by its spray.

Following deer trails and fishermen's routes through the brush, we returned to our cars at the roadhead. Quercus kelloggii, black oak, and Populus trichocarpa, black poplar, provided golden color along the way. This canyon was scoured by a cloudburst in the 1930's. The sadly barren scene is now filled with a denser than ever riparian growth.

This trip, led by Mary DeDecker, concludes the field schedule for this year. But we hope to see you at the November 28 meeting. A good program is being planned.


Death Valley National Monument is in its second year of burro removal. The first 10-day tour this season netted 181 burros, and another one is just beginning.

The program is to continue, with a break for the holidays, until April, 1985. Last year's program removed 2000 animals. ,This year the focus continues to be on the southern Panamints, to make sure of getting them all. Then it will continue northward. Reports are that those captured this year are in poor condition, many of them very weak. They should thrive on the good hay furnished in the corral at Ridgecrest. The Fund for Animals people are expected to pick them up shortly: Although the program is going well, the animal protection groups seem to be losing their enthusiasm for taking the animals. One wonders when the public saturation point may be reached.


Botanical Montane Islands in the Great Basin by Philip V. Wells. Ecological Monographs, 53(4'), 1983, 341-382.

Mr. Wells describes the gradual movement of evergreen woodlands from southerly desert areas to isolated mountain islands in the Great Basin since glacial times. Preserved remains found in wood rat (Neotoma) middens yield evidence that would otherwise have been difficult if not impossible to duplicate. Some of these nests, long ago abandoned, contain vegetative remains that are even older than 40,000 years. Most are not so old and provide a botanical record from recent times to many thousands of years back.

The record indicates that existing warm (Larrea) deserts are gradual northerly expansions replacing extensive late-Pleistocene (glacial period) evergreen woodlands of juniper and pinyon pine. These woodlands have been isolated by gradual contraction to the slopes of higher mountains that rise like islands from the present Great Basin desert sea.

During the glacial period the higher Great Basin area (5500'6250') appears to have been forested with only one to three species of conifers: Pinus longaeva, Picea engelmannii,.and Juniperus communis. During the late glacial warming of climate, 12,000-8000 years ago, these also shifted upward in elevation.

At lower elevations, 4450'-5000', and more southerly, where _P. longaeva did not occur, limber pine (P. flexilis), Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), and montane red cedar J. scopulorum) formed extensive forests. Existing woodland juniper (J. osteosperma) was absent but J. communis was.also present at these lower elevations. _P. engelmannii was not recorded below 6250'.
In addition to the shift northward and upward of the above species there also has been an east to west infiltration of 11 of the 12 Rocky Mountain species. These are now believed to have been dispersed by Clark's nutcrackers and pinyon jays across the intervening gaps from high elevation dispersal routes through central and northern Utah. The northward movement in the Basin was also chiefly by these two birds, although other birds played a varying minor role. The number of coniferous species in each isolated island irregularly decreases from the east towards the west until none occur in the west-central ranges in Nevada. Pinus flexilis and Juniperus communis are the only subalpine conifers that occur in both the central Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada and are also on the east-west gamut of Basin ranges in between.

It is also interesting to note that Pinus aristata is restricted to the Rocky Mountains cordieliera in Colorado and New Mexico with an additional single isolated outpost in northerly central Arizona (the San Francisco Peaks north of Flagstaff). Otherwise the Great Basin and the White-Inyo ranges are selectively populated with P.longaeva.

The present distribution and relative abundance of each species in the islands is not static but is in dynamic equilibrium between extinction and immigration. The post-glacial migration of montane conifers to the higher peaks of the central and northern Great Basin is believed to be still in progress in spite of major ecological barriers in the lowlands. Seed dispersal by birds is a necessary component of this plant migration that helps to balance small island extinction.

.......... Vincent Yoder

Flora of the Northern Mojave Desert, California, by Mary DeDecker. Special Publication No-7, California Native Plant Society, Berkeley, CA. Paperback, 164 pp. 1984. $8.95.

One of the greatest difficulties in reviewing a flora is trying to communicate to the prospective reader that it is not merely, in the words of Pierre Dansereau, a "more or less comprehensive list of plant species" which inhabit a particular region. It is, rather, a written documentation of the experience, intellect and creative force of the field botanist. The reader who fails to grasp this point will have no more appreciation for a flora as a work of science than he has for the local telephone directory. They both are, after all, lists of names. It brings to mind the old joke which goes something like: "I just read this new book published by Bell Telephone. Not much plot, but what a cast of characters!"

A well documented flora allows us, the readers, to write our own stories. For example, the thousand-odd species of vascular plants in the northern Mojave Desert pale in comparison to the tens of thousands which inhabit a similar-sized area of tropical rain forest. On the other hand, due to its greater topographic, climatic and edaphic diversity, the northern Mojave Desert contains roughly twice as many species as the realtively more monotonous central Mojave Desert and approximately one fifth of all the plant species found in California. Floras allow botanists to make direct inferences about plant diversity and endemism, plant biogeography and ecology, and facilitates the efforts of botanist and layman alike to narrow down the cast of plant characters to a manageable few. Any one who has attempted to key out one of the nearly hundred species of buckwheat (Eriogonum) using Munz's California Flora will appreciate that Mary DeDecker has practically halved the possibilities to 58 for the northern Mojave.

Mrs. DeDecker has put a lifetime of work and field experience into this book. When I was the botanist of the Desert Plan Staff, I well remember packing and mailing to her several large boxes with computer printouts--the results of her inventory of the northern Mojave Desert. I'm extremely happy to see that she has chosen to publish the results of her many hours of hard work.

The book is basically a so-called "concise" or "field" flora, as opposed to a "research" flora. Each species is annotated with distributional and ecological notes and a brief description. There are no keys, however these are readily available in Munz's California Flora or Flora of Southern California. The organization of species, genera and families is alphabetical. There is no subdivision into monocots and dicots, however families of ferns and their allies and conifers are separated and arranged according to their respective divisions.

An index is provided for both common names and binomials, and makes a very handy checklist.

Flora of the Northern Mojave Desert, California is available at local book stores and information centers, as well as through the California Native Plant Society. The Bristlecone Chapter, CNPS, east of the Sierra is handling it through Vincent Yoder, P. 0. Box 330, Lone Pine, CA 93545. The total cost, including tax, handling and postage, for mail orders is $10.45. Books are now available, even though the official publication date is November 12. Most southern California amateur and professional botanists should consider this an indispensable addition to their reference library, especially those who live or spend a great deal of time in the northern Mojave Desert.

 . . . . . Peter Rowlands


The monetary value of certain desert plants on the black market is seriously depleting their numbers. Those of us who are aware of their ecological and aesthetic values in their native habitats are urged to be alert to such activity and to be aware of the protection provided by state law. (Division 23 of the Food and Agricultural Code.) Public participation is urged.

The following paragraph (70504 of Chapter 1) applies to plants growing in a wild, uncultivated state:

"Persons engaged in the production, storage, sale, delivery, or transportation of nursery stock pursuant to Part 3 of Division 4 shall not receive any harvested native plants, unless each plant has securely and properly attached thereto a valid native plant tag and seal."
Procedures for obtaining plant tags and seals under designated conditions are given in the code. Each term used is clearly defined. The same is true of "Commercial harvesting" which is controlled by the issuance of permits.

Below are listed the Regulated Species which occur in Inyo-Mono, shown in the category in which they fall:

The following native plants, or any parts thereof, may not be harvested except for scientific or educational purposes under a permit issued by the commissioner of the county in which the native plants are growing:

Ferocactus acanthodes (barrel cactus)

Dudleya saxosa (Panamint dudleya) Pinus longaeva (bristlecone pine)

The following native plants, or any part thereof, may not be harvested except under a permit issued by the agricultural commissioner or the sheriff of the county in which the native plants are growing:

All species of the family Agavaceae (century plants, nolinas, yuccas).
All species of the genus Cactaceae (cacti), except as provided under permit.

All species of the genus Prosopis (mesquites).

Atriplex hymenelytra (desert holly).

A complete copy of Code Division 23 may be obtained through this newsletter. Richard Little, Biologist in the Riverside Office of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, assures us of his full cooperation in protecting the listed plants. The address is 6143 Columbus Avenue, Riverside, CA 92504. Phone (714) 78 14190.

We are happy to welcome four more new. members as listed below:

Victoria Hamilton
Richard A.Nichols
Route 2, Box 330 P.O. Box 766
Bishop, CA 93514 Caliente, NV 89008
James D. Morefield
Ian Scott
NAU; Box 6201 P.O. Box 8730
Flagstaff, AZ 86011 Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546


On January 26 and 27, 1985, the Planning and Conservation League, one of California's most effective environmental lobbying organizations, will sponsor the Second California Environmental Legislative Symposium at the Sacramento Inn, which is located near Cal Expo, about ten minutes from downtown Sacramento.

The purpose of the Symposium will be to plan environmental legislation to be introduced early in the upcoming two year legislative session, as well as to plan strategy for opposing legislation that would be dangerous and harmful to the environment in California. Individual workshops will be held on such topics as water development, pesticides, toxic materials, wildlife, renewable resources, new techniques in grass roots environmental lobbying, and several others. The cost to attend the two day Symposium is $50 per person and includes three meals.

PLC recently secured a commitment from Mayor Tom Bradley to be a special guest speaker at the Symposium on Saturday, January 26.

Please contact the Planning and Conservation League if you would like more details. Registrations for the Symposium are due by January 11. Phone (916) 444-8726, or write PCL at 1228 N Street, Suite 33, Sacramento, CA 95814.

NOTE: The dedication and expertise of PCL in looking out for our interests in Sacramento is outstanding. This symposium should be a valuable experience. Put the dates on your calendar NOW.