Volume 23 No. 3 May/June 2003

Bristlecone Chapter
Dedicated to the Preservation of the California Native Flora




Bristlecone Chapter to Co-sponsor SNARL Lecture

On Thursday, June 19, Dr. Michael Loik, Assistant Professor in Environmental Studies at UC Santa Cruz, will present "Climate Change Effects on the Sagebrush Ecoystem near Mammoth Lakes, California." The program, fifth in a series of Thursday night lectures sponsored by Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory, will be held at 7:00 PM at the Green Church, Hwy 395 and Benton Crossing Road. Admission is free and the public is invited. The program will last one hour.


The next Chapter Board meeting will be at 7:00 PM on Tuesday, May 27 at Sally Manning's residence. All are welcome to attend.


There is more info inside this newsletter regarding our two major May events-the Mary DeDecker Native Plant Garden dedication on May 10 and our seventh Sierra Spring Sojourn on May 16-18. And there are lots of good field trips to choose from.

Last time I wrote the president's message, it was warm and a few desert annuals were just begining to flower. Now they're in full bloom around Bishop and the Volcanic Tablelands and alluvial fans above the Owens Valley. With more cold, wet weather expected, this could really be a great year - but I guess it already is! So I hope you're getting out as often as possible and enjoying this wonderful season. As Edward Abbey said, "It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can.

. . . . . . .. Stephen Ingram


Celebration For The Mary DeDecker Native Plant Garden

This May 10, the Bristlecone Chapter will formally dedicate and celebrate The Mary DeDecker Native Plant Garden at the Eastern California Museum in Independence. CNPSers statewide are warmly invited to attend.

The Mary DeDecker garden features a variety of native plants from the eastern Sierra, including species from alluvial fan, lower montane and riparian zones. The garden was established by the Bristlecone Chapter as a tribute to Mary DeDecker, a self-taught botanist who discovered several new plant species, including a new genus, and who worked tirelessly to preserve unique Eastern Sierra habitats.

The celebration takes place Saturday, May 10, from 2 - 4 p.m., followed by a barbeque to benefit the Eastern California Museum. The garden dedication features music, tours of the garden, and talks by regional plant experts. The post-event barbeque is sponsored by the Friends of the Eastern California Museum.

Mark you calendars now and watch for further details in future issues of the Bulletin and on the Bristlecone Chapter's website: www.bristleconecnps.org. For further information, contact Heidi Hopkins, heidimono@aol.com, 760-647-6271.

2003 Sierra Spring Sojourn

Our chapter will hold the sixth Sierra Spring Sojourn at Camp Inyo, Bernasconi Center, in Big Pine on May 16-18, 2003. This is a weekend of field trips, programs, and conversation among folks who share an interest in native plants. It's an opportunity for us to show off "the eastside" to CNPS members from all over the state. If you would like to receive information about the Sojourn, including a registration form, please email me at sherrylt76@aol.com. If you think you will attend only part of the weekend activities, please ask for the "locals" registration form. If you do not have email, please drop me a note at P.O. Box 1638, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546. Hope to see you at the Sojourn!

A highlight of our Sierra Spring Sojourn will be the Saturday banquet on May 17, 5:00 PM and Bristlecone members and their guests are especially invited to attend. The event begins with a social hour, followed by dinner and a slide program by Jim Andre. Jim is director of University of California Sweeney Granite Mountain Desert Research Center. He is currently working on a flora of the East Mojave and an illustrated flora of the shrubs of the Mojave Desert. He continues to work in the Eastern Sierra, having recently conducted an inventory of the springs and seeps of the Owens Valley and compiled a checklist of the plants for the Owens Valley. His topic is "Floristic Relationships of the Eastern Mojave Desert and the Inyo Region.

To make a banquet reservation, please send a check for $18.00 payable to Bristlecone Chapter, CNPS, to Sherryl Taylor, P.O Box 1638, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546. Please indicate if you would like a vegetarian entree. Banquet reservation deadline: May 9th.

If you would like to sign up for field trips and meals at the Sojourn, please contact Sherryl Taylor at sherrylt76@aol.com or 760-924-8742.

. . . . Sherryl Taylor

Owens Valley Water Fair

The goal of the Owens Valley Water Fair, scheduled for May 9-10, is to encourage participation of Owens Valley residents to learn about water topics and water conservation practices. This two-day event will include activities for elementary students from the Big Pine School and members of the four Indian Tribes of the Owens Valley, as well as an invited general public.

The Water Fair will be held at the Big Pine Paiute Tribe Community Center from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM on Saturday May 10. Call 938-2003 for more information.

Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Lab (SNARL) Lecture Series

May 22 Aliens and UFO's: Is There Life in Outer Space? - Dr. Anthony Beasley, Astronomer, Caltech's Owens Valley Radio Observatory

May 29 The New Zealand Mud Snail: Invasive Exotic or the Next Naturalized Species? - Debra Hawk, Biologist, California Department of Fish and Game

June 5 A bug's eye view of Sierra meadows: Interactions among people, plants and invertebrates - Dr. Jeff Holmquist, Biologist, SNARL and WMRS

June 12 Why is Crowley Lake so green? Nutrients in the Upper Owens River Watershed Dr. Robert Jellison, Limnologist, SNARL, UCSB

June 19 Climate Change Effects on the Sagebrush Ecosystem near Mammoth Lakes, CA - Dr. Michael Loik, Assistant Professor, Environmental Studies, UCSC

7 PM Thursday evenings at the Green Church (Hwy. 395 and Benton Crosssing Rd.)
Admission is free and the public is invited. Lectures last approximately one hour. For more information call Leslie Dawson at 935-4356 or email ldawson@msi.ucsb.edu.


It's Springtime, it's CARMA Time!

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the ill-conceived proposal to build a radio observatory at an undisturbed basin in the Inyo Mountains (i.e. the CARMA project) has finally been released. Written comments will be accepted by the Inyo National Forest until May 27; verbal comments will be accepted at a public meeting May 5, 2003 in Bishop.

The good news is that there is still a real chance to at least protect Juniper Flat. Although project proponents treat construction at Juniper Flat as the "proposed action," the Inyo National Forest (INF) has chosen Cedar Flat (near Westgard Pass) as the "environmentally supcrior" alternative and INF will make the final decision.

The DEIS fails to address several of the issues the Bristlecone Chapter raised in the scoping period last year including the most important one: the loss of Juniper Flat as an undisturbed ecosystem. As expected, the DEIS claims those impacts it does acknowledge will be mitigated to the level of non-significance. The DEIS overstates the importance of the astronomy project and understates ecological value of and impacts to Juniper Flat. If the proposed project has the national significance proponents claim, it is premature to consider the sacrifice of either Juniper Flat or Cedar Flat because an adequate search for alternatives has not been conducted.

The danger is that people will become complacent upon learning that Juniper Flat is not INF's preferred alternative and will therefore not undertake the daunting task of trying to make enough sense of the DEIS to write informed comments. Project proponents will be doing their best to induce their supporters to object to the proposed siting at Cedar Flat in hopes INF can be pressured to reverse itself and select Juniper Flat. This is a very real possibility. It would be tragic to come this close to protecting Juniper Flat only to lose in the numbers game in the comment period.

If you care about the Inyo Mountains please consider making a comment at the public meeting in Bishop on May 5 and/or sending in a written comment on the DEIS. I am working on a list of suggested comments which I will make available ASAP. Please contact me at s ilots(Lelis.org and/or monitor the conservation page of the Bristlecone Chapter website at www.bristleconecnps.org/conservation. The DEIS is available from the Inyo National Forest and can also be downloaded from its website at http://www.fS.fed.us/r5/ino/

........ Daniel Pritchett

2003 Annual Pumping Plan Released

The 2003 proposed annual pumping plan was released by LADWP on April 20. The total volume of proposed pumping is 89,800 acre feet (af). This would be enough water to cover an area of about 140 square miles one foot deep in water. This would be almost 1.5 times larger than the bed of Owens Lake. The most recent estimate by the US Geological Survey of a maximum long term sustainable volume of pumping is 75,000 af.

Although runoff is only about 75% of average, the 89,000 of is an increase in pumping by about 4%. Just as it did last year, LADWP states that pumping will lead to "temporary decline in parts of most well fields." And, just as last year, LADWP does not define how long the "temporary decline" will last.

Under provisions of the Inyo-LA Long Term Water Agreement, Inyo County has 10 days to comment on LADWP's proposal, after which LADWP has 10 days to address Inyo County's comments. Under provisions of the Drought Recovery Policy, the Standing Committee must agree on the pumping plan. If the Standing Committee cannot reach agreement Inyo County's only recourse is to initiate dispute resolution proceedings.

By the time you read this article the pumping program will probably be a done deal. As of April 23, 2003 I make the following predictions based upon the past behavior of LADWP and the Inyo County:

1) Inyo County will neither ask for nor receive an explanation of how long the "temporary" declines to be caused by proposed pumping will last;

2) Inyo County will insist at a Water Commission meeting that the Drought Recovery Policy (DRP) still applies to certain parcels and that the County has not given up on enforcement of this policy;

3) Inyo County will make no public reference to recent hydrologic models (available on the Water Department's website) which show that, for many areas, even with "minimal" pumping the probability of water tables recovering in the next three years to the levels required to fulfill the goals of the DRP and the Water Agreement is nil;
4) Inyo County will not distribute, as it has in the past, information describing the current status of vegetation and water tables with regard to the DRP in the parcels it monitors;
5) Inyo County will acquiesce to the proposed pumping program and will not enforce the DRP. As a result, groundwater dependent vegetation in many areas will become even more impacted, and the already remote likelihood of ever realizing the
vegetation protection goals of the Water Agreement will become even more remote.
I will be the happiest person in the county if any of these statements prove to be untrue. Be sure to read the next issue of the Bristlecone Chapter newsletter for a report on the outcome!

What you can do: Ask your county supervisor why Inyo County has de facto abandoned the DRP when the county's own data show the DRP's goals have yet to be met.

........ Daniel Pritchett

Who's In A Name?

DeDecker's Lupine, Lupinus padre-crowleyi, Part II

C. P. Smith's Account of a Visit to Inyo County in 1932, and, in 1945, his Expression of Admiration for Father Crowley.

[Renowned lupine specialist Charles Piper Smith (1877-1955) wrote the following for his selfpublished journal, "Species Lupinorum". This treatment of the lupines of Inyo County appeared in the issue for August of 1945. It starts out with a reminiscence of his visit over a decade earlier. In this paper he described Lupinus padrecrowleyi, and noted his admiration for Father Crowley. The following text is exact, with typos and grammatical lapses uncorrected.]

Our attention was first called to the lupines of Inyo county by the published record of Amos Arthur Heller's botanical trip of 1906 (Muhlenbergia 2:209-214). In this report six species are mentioned as taken in this county, i. e. superbus, pratensis, inyoensis, hesperius, excubitus and odoratus, the first four being proposed as new. Our interest at that time stimulated a talk with Prof. William R. Dudley about the Inyo region and thus the desire to visit that county had its origin. For twenty-six years, however, that desire remained encysted in a mental capsule.

Finally, in June 1932, we entered Inyo County via State Hiway 178, Walker Pass, and turned northward on U. S. Hiway 6 [now SR 14]. We knew that we were much too late for the desert annuals and hence were not surprised at the lack of "roadside lupines", after leaving Hiway 178. Hence we pressed northward to Bishop, out of which we radiated for some two days. A sidetrip to Laws yielded no results, but up in McGee Meadows we secured pratensis and what we labeled inyoensis. No trace of hesperius or superbus resulted from our search, tho we examined carefully the wholly dried marshlands at the edges Bishop. All conversations with the natives we contacted referred to the former beauty of the mountain valley and the then present devastation apparent everywhere, thanks to the thirst of the city of Los Angeles.

Leaving Bishop, we returned to Lone Pine, where we turned up Lone Pine canyon to find excubitus still available; but evidently did rot go far enough to locate the magnificus var. glaricola of Jones, although we were too late in the season for that species also. Owens Lake was driedup waste and the whole valley an unhappy prospect for collecting of lupines.
We now again refer to the "Saturday evening P O S T", this time to the issue of 20 May 1944, page 9, article, "Desert Padre". The story there presented opens with the "fall of 1934", the place, Lone Pine, two years and about four months after our introduction to that place. We may sum up, for our purposes, much of this excellent story by quotation from a prominent insert on said page 9, which will justify our reference to this article.

Father John Crowley came back to Owens Valley to die, than survived long enough to restore life to a doomed California desert, and hope to its disillusioned settlers.

And one other quotation, the caption for the illustration on page 10:

This is the country that held the padre back from the edge of death. Ringed by the lofty Sierra Nevadas, the desert no longer threatens to revert to sage and sand, now blooms in the springtime.

We hope that this proves to be the case.

The following catalog is based mainly upon our notebooks prepared from specimens we have seen.

[There follows a detailed list of all the species Smith recognized for Inyo County in this 1945 publication, including some newly named by him. It's in this publication that he names and describes Lupinus padre-crowleyi. Following the Latin description, he wrote:]

We are glad to use for this lupine the name of the "Father John Crowley" whose last years were so completely dedicated to the service of Inyo County.

(Additional information, references, and graphics will be found on my website: www.csupomona.edu/-larryblakely /whoname )

. . . Larry Blakely


An enthusiastic group of more than 40 people met on the windless morning of April 5 to learn about and see some of the wildlife and plant habitats of Round Valley. The main purpose of the field trip, organized by Karen Ferrell-Ingram, was to hear from local biologists and botanists about the biological resources of Round Valley, and to ask questions concerning the ramifications on wildlife and their habitats from the proposed Pacifica housing development in Rovana.

John Wehausen gave a brief history of the population peaks and valleys of the endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep as we gazed up at Wheeler Crest, home of the largest herd today. Wehausen has studied the sheep for more than 25 years, and noted that this population of 75 sheep uses the lower slopes of Wheeler Crest as they move out of Pine Creek, bringing them close to the proposed development of 355 homes. We then drove up Pine Creek to the mine, hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive Sierra bighorn, and were rewarded with great views of a dozen animals as they grazed on cheat grass (go sheep!) on the opposite slope.

Next stop was to see the habitat of the rare Apache silverspot and hear about this beautiful butterfly from Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power Wildlife Biologist, Debbie House. The favored area of this large butterfly is the wet meadow and spring areas near Pine Creek Road, between the Round Valley School and 395. We also heard about Round Valley native fish, such as the Owens speckled dace, from Dept. of Fish and Game (DFG) Biologist Debra Hawk.

From here we drove back uphill and walked out to the edge of the burn at the base of Mt. Tom, along a dirt road lined with woolly sunflowers, phacelias, gilias, and other wildflowers. Bureau of Land Management Botanist Anne Halford told us about the efforts to replant the burn with bitterbrush. Because the 1995 fire here burned so hot, very little of the bitterbrush resprouted. But within rodent- and deer-proof exclosures, the planted shrubs are doing very well. DFG Wildlife Biologist Denyce Racine discussed the Round Valley mule deer herd and the importance of bitterbrush for their winter browse, as well as their heavy use of the proposed development area. We also learned about the intensive research done on this herd from DFG Wildlife Biologist, Alisa Ellsworth. Some of the pregnant does were implanted with GPS-transmission devices this winter that will come out as they give birth this summer in the high Sierra, enabling biologists to know exactly what places the Round Valley herd uses for fawning.

A smaller group of people then drove out towards Well's Meadow and spent another hour wandering through the willows and locust trees looking for long-eared owls and the season's first neotropical migrant birds. Orange-crowned warblers and Audubon's warblers had arrived,
and we watched numerous ruby-crowned kinglet gleaning insects from willow catkins. It was a great way to end a field trip that gave a thorough overview of the amazing wildlife diversity found in Round Valley. The needs of Round Valley wildlife were foremost in people's thoughts as we contemplated the prospect of an ill-conceived 355 home development centered in the heart of the mule deer's winter range.

........ Stephen Ingram

CalFlora Shuts Down

CalPhotos, Jepson Interchange, and SMASCH to the rescue!

Greenery is coming up all over, promising a rare season. Native plant lovers will be getting their identification resources in order, for the challenging and fun tasks ahead. Unfortunately, a major resource of helpful information on native plants is no longer available; CalFlora has had to close shop due to loss of funding. This marvelous all-in-one site, so valuable for California botanists, teachers and students at all levels, probably will not be a part of the plant lover's resource kit this season. Hopefully, funding will be restored, and CalFlora will bloom again one day.

In the meantime, most of the data are still available, though not all in one place. Three principal sites are noted below.

CalPhotos (Plants): http://elib.cs.berkeley.edu/photos/flora/ These are the photos, so helpful for ID purposes, that were used by CalFlora. All are still available here. Search by scientific or common names.

Jepson Interchange: http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/interchangel Enter a scientific name, or select from an alphabetical list, and get descriptions like those in the Jepson
manual, plus distribution maps, and links to other sources of information.

SMASCH: http://www.mip.berkeley-edu/www_apps/smasch / Data (e.g., collection date, location, collector) for over 300,000 plant specimens.

And don't forget CNPS: http://www.cnps.org/ Lots of information on 2,073 of California's rarest plants in the CNPS Inventory On-line, and, of course, much other good info on California's native plants.

So, there is still plenty of internet information on California native plants available at our fingertips! It's just not all under one roof. Give each site a try to see how they can be of help to you during this special year.

. . . . . . .. Larry Blakely