Volume 23 No. 5 September/October 2003
THE CALIFORNIA NATIVE PLANT SOCIETY
NEXT CHAPTER MEETING
At our September 24th meeting, Dr. Pamela Muick, Executive Director of the California Native Plant Society, will present a slide talk titled "Quirky California Oaks." She will give an overview of California's oaks, including those on the Sierra eastside, discuss history of human use, restoration and management, and the future of our oak woodlands and forests. Based on her years of experience in oak habitats Pam originated the idea for the book "Oaks of California" which she co-authored. Her book will be available for purchase and signing. The meeting will be held at the Green Church on Hwy #395 at Benton Crossing Road at 7:00 PM.
Everyone is invited to a potluck dinner before the meeting at 5:45 PM at the Green Church. Please bring your own table setting and a dish to share. This will be an opportunity for Pam to hear from Bristlecone members what our chapter would like from the various CNPS programs and the state office and ideas about how to strengthen CNPS. Please plan to attend.
NEXT CHAPTER BOARD MEETING
The next chapter board meeting will be at 7:00 PM on Tuesday, Sept. 16, at Stephen and Karen's residence in Swall Meadows. All are welcome to attend.
As the nights grow longer and the mornings become colder, many of our local plants are losing their green chlorophyll or dropping their leaves. Other pigments, usually masked by the green, are lending their red and yellow hues to the slopes, meadows and willow-lined creeks. We live among some of the most spectacular fall displays in California, so make sure you find the time to get out and enjoy this season.
The Bristlecone Chapter lost one of its founders and most faithful supporters on August 8, when our friend, Doris Fredendall, passed away. As my wife, Karen, said at her memorial service, Doris's garden extended from her backyard up to the top of Westgard Pass where she regularly pulled weeds and admired our native plants.
In Memory of Doris Fredendall June 6, 1909 - August 8, 2003
Doris Fredendall's life was celebrated with a beautifully' presented memorial service by the Rev. Dr. Karen Moore on August 15, 2003 at the Big pine Community United Methodist Church. Doris touched a place in our hearts with her love for flowers and her service to people and
That love of flowers is one of the things that shined through her life to all who knew her. CNPS members and friends can't help but remember the quiet enthusiasm for flowers Doris showed whether making her lists out in the field with wild flowers or in her own carefully tended garden. As a CNPS member, Doris added so much to our organization. From serving a term as president, leading field trips, helping newer members, or carefully documenting where and what flowers she found, to being inducted a fellow in the California Plant Society. For 20 years Doris made weekly drives up Westguard Pass to clean the litter and non-native plants from the roadsides. Doris will be remembered as Hospitality chairman for our meetings and an incomparable hostess for our board meetings. Her wild flower displays will be sorely missed at the Sierra Spring Sojourn and other places.
But most especially Doris will be remembered for how much she gave us. Her warmth of heart, love of flowers, her out of the ordinary way to make people around her feel special, her hospitality, her beautiful organization, and her modesty at all she has done will live on in our hearts.
PREVIEW AND PLANT SALE 2003
The Preview for the native plant sale is scheduled for Tuesday, September 9 at 7:00 PM at White Mountain Research Station on East Line Street in Bishop. We will discuss seed propagation of native plants of the Eastern Sierra and the plants and seeds that will be offered at the plant sale.
The plant sale will be held on Saturday, September 13 at 9:00AM at White Mountain Research Station in Bishop. Please note the change from the usual location. Please contact Karen at 387-2913 or at email@example.com for info.
Summer/Fall 2003 Bristlecone Chapter Field Trips
September 6, Saturday, Trees of the Eastern Sierra, Mammoth to Rock Creek. Leader: Cathy Rose. In a time of year when flowers are on the wane, we'll look up at the conifers and broad-leaved trees of the Mammoth, Convict Lake, and Rock Creek area. We will take short walks in each place; expect some uphill but at a botanist's pace. Meet at the Inyo National Forest's Visitor's Center on HWY 203 before entering Mammoth Lakes. Bring lunch and water. Handout provided. Call Cathy at 935-4329 for details.
September 9, Tuesday, 7:00 PM. Plant and Seed Sale Preview. Karen Ferrell-Ingram will discuss methods of growing native plants from seed and also the plants that will be offered at this year's native plant sale. Local wildflower seed mixes for use in the Owens Valley and higher elevations will also be offered at the plant sale. The Preview will be held at White Mountain Research Station, 3000 East Line St. in Bishop.
September 13, Saturday, Native Plant Sale. The plant sale will be scaled down this year due to three years of minimal seed production in the wild. We will be offering a nice variety of perennials and shrubs in gallons and smaller containers along with local wildflower seed mixes. The plant sale will be held at White Mountain Research Station at 3000 East Line Street in Bishop at 9:00 AM. Contact Karen at 3872913 or at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
October 4, Saturday, Hilton Creek fall colors and mosses. Leader: Sue Weis. This is a strenuous 4.5 mile (9 mile round trip) hike with about a 2000 foot elevation gain to the large meadow below Davis Lake. There is a beautiful view of Long Valley and some Penstemon papillatus to help you up the switchbacks. This is one of three locations in the state of the rare moss Helodium blandlowii and Eve Laeger has been invited to come along and discuss the mosses. Meet at the old hostel/packstation building in Long Valley at 8:30 am, bring lunch. Feet may get wet in some areas of the meadow. Call Sue at 387-2349 for more information.
FIELD TRIP POLICIES: For all field trips, be sure to bring plenty of water, lunch, good walking shoes or boots, and appropriate clothing for hot sun and/or inclement weather. Also useful would be a hand lens, binoculars, camera, floras, and plant lists. Trips will leave at the time announced, so please arrive at the meeting sites a few minutes early. Unless indicated, the average car should do fine. Car pooling is encouraged. Everyone is welcome, but not pets. For general question on field trips or if you would like to lead a trip,
Mary DeDecker Botanical Grant Program
The Bristlecone Chapter is requesting applications for its small grants program in memory of renowned local botanist, Mary DeDecker. This program is a fitting way to remember Mary's many contributions to the people and plants of the Eastern Sierra. The program will award up to two grants of not more than $500 each.
The purpose of these grants is to facilitate research and projects that increase the understanding and appreciation of our region's native flora and ecosystems. There are a wide range of appropriate possible subjects for funding, from basic taxonomic or ecological research to a school garden featuring native plants and their pollinators. The only requirement is that the project be relevant to the native plants of the northern Mojave Desert, Sierra Nevada, and Great Basin portions of eastern California.
The deadline for submission of grant proposals is December 2, 2003. To receive guidelines for the grant application or for more information, contact Karen Ferrell-Ingram at (760) 387-2913 or at email@example.com.
Research report from Hester Bell-2002 recipient of the Mary DeDecker Botanical Grant
There are times when a GPS receiver is worth its weight in gold. On a moonless November evening in 2001, my husband and I stumbled across the Eureka Valley as the light slipped away and our footprints from the morning grew fainter and fainter. In May I had collected Swallenia alexandrae from the three populations that are easily accessible from the valley, but I was reluctant to tackle the most remote population in the Saline Mountains all on my own. By the time that we found a weekend to make the trip it was already late in the year and the days were short.
We had located the Saline Mountains dune on the East of Waucoba Spring quadrangle map and planned to enter from the east. Even with the map and the GPS we missed a hanging canyon on our way up and ended up backtracking quite a distance. It was mid afternoon by the time we reached the edge of the dune. I needed to collect leaf material from 30 individuals from all over the extensive dune. We wanted to complete the collection in an hour and start the hike back. So we split up and each took a side of the dune to collect on. We carried zip lock bags, an indispensable tool for plant collectors. Stems with about 8 leaves each went into the bags and into a small ice chest to keep cold. The collection took about an hour and a half, so we knew that part of our hike out would be in the dark.
By the time we crossed the mouth of Marble Canyon, it was almost pitch dark. Our flashlights kept us from stepping in holes and tripping on rocks, but it was the GPS that got us back to the van. On the long drive back, I wrapped bundles of leaves in aluminum foil and popped them into liquid nitrogen to minimize damage to the precious DNA.
With the fieldwork completed, the Swallenia alexandrae story is unfolding in the molecular lab of Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. I began by extracting and purifying DNA from each sample. Each tube of stock DNA and working dilutions must be carefully labeled. I used two polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based techniques for the work with S. alexandrae. PCR allows researchers to replicate many copies of portions of DNA necessary for analysis. PCR requires primers, short sections of artificially produced, single-stranded DNA that "prime" or provide a starting place for DNA replication to begin. Some primers target very specific regions of DNA such as genes; other primers are used to target random sections of DNA. I used PCR to obtain sequences of DNA from the nucleus and chloroplasts of S. alexandrae. I compared the S. alexandrae sequences with those of Distichlis spicata and Monanthochloe littoralis and other related warm season grasses. I also used a technique called randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPDs) to investigate the amount of genetic diversity within and between populations of S. alexandrae.
What have I learned so far? Many botanists have placed S. alexandrae in the grass subtribe, Monanthochloinae, along with Distichlis, Monanthochloe, Allolepis, Jouvea, Reederochloa, and the Old World genus, Aeluropus. Preliminary results from the Columbus lab show that Swallenia is more closely related to Blepharidachne, Scleropogon, Munroa, Dasyochloa, and Erioneuron. Aeluropus is not closely related to other members of the Monanthochloinae. Allolepis and Jouvea are related to Bouteloua, Pleurahis, and Hilaria. Distichlis, Monanthochloe, and Reederochloa are closely related to each other and form the core of the Monanthochloinae. These results are consistent with the morphological study of M. Gomez-Sanchez, P. Davila-Aranda, and J. ValdesReyna (Madrono, 48 152-161, 2001) that found the leaf blade anatomy of Swallenia to be quite different from that of Distichlis, Monanthochloe, and Reederochloa.
Genetic diversity is very low in S. alexandrae. This suggests that the effective (or interbreeding) population size of S. alexandrae may be much smaller than the apparent population. Species with low genetic diversity are generally considered to have fewer adaptive resources to draw upon in the event of drastic climatic or habitat changes.
I am grateful for the support of the Bristlecone Chapter of the CNPS. It is a great honor to receive the Mary DeDecker Botanical Grant. My dissertation and publications that result from this research will acknowledge the support of the Mary DeDecker Botanical Grant.
Requiem for Laws: "A good, but not perfect, solution"
In summer 2002, Inyo County Supervisors threatened to initiate a strong Dispute Resolution case over LAD WP's failure to fully irrigate Laws as required under the InyoLA Long Term Water Agreement (LTWA). Unable to "pull the trigger," however, supervisors instead initiated almost a year of closed-session meetings among themselves and secret negotiations between Inyo County and LADWP.
In May 2003 the product of the secret negotiation -- the Irrigation Project at Laws -- was released in the form of a Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND), an environmental review document under California Environmental Quality Act. The MND whitewashed the project by concealing important information about conditions at Laws, by providing a grossly inadequate analysis of project impacts, and by giving the misleading impression that the LTWA would provide mitigation for impacts from pumping newly-exempt wells. During the 30 day review period I submitted detailed comments (available on our website) to this effect for the Bristlecone Chapter.
In June, responses to comments were released. Disappointingly, some comments were ignored entirely and responses to others were evasive.
Having invested almost a year negotiating the proposed project, it was no surprise that Inyo County Supervisors ignored public comments and proceeded to approve the proposed project in July 2003. According to the Inyo Register, supervisors paraphrased Inyo County Water Commissioners who had described the project as "a good, but not perfect, solution." Because the project is neither good, nor a solution, this is surely the most inspired contribution to the Newspeak vocabulary to date.
The LTWA obligates LADWP to fully irrigate Laws and also manage pumping to avoid significant impacts. The Irrigation Project at Laws, however, removes the obligation to avoid significant impacts by granting two unnecessary well exemptions. Groundwater-dependent plants and animals at Laws formerly protected under the LTWA's goal of impact avoidance now face death. According to the MND their deaths will be mitigated under the LTWA. The LTWA, however, contains no explicit references to mitigation of impacts from pumping exempt wells. This is one of many important facts the MND fails to disclose.
The Irrigation Project at Laws is a case study in why Inyo County's dealings with LADWP must be opened to public scrutiny. On their own, our supervisors lack the patience and fortitude necessary to deal with both LADWP's delaying tactics and their constituents' pressure to "do something now." Proposals (like the Laws project) which mortgage the future for the present are irresistible.
Equally important, their closed decision-making process makes supervisors vulnerable to basing decisions upon erroneous and/or incomplete information. The MND itself, the document upon which they based their decision to approve the project, is a perfect example. The indefensible assertion that potential impacts are unknown without implementing the project (attributed by the Inyo Register to Water Department director Greg James, who presumably advised the supervisors in their year of negotiation) is another example.
The image of "death by a thousand cuts" has been used to describe LAD WP's attempts to undermine the goals of the LTWA. Cuts inflicted by Inyo County Supervisors do the greatest harm.
A Tale of Two Creeks
For over a decade, local conservationists alerted the
On Furnace Creek, ATVs and motorcycles have punched through over a mile of desert wetlands leaving huge mud bogs, deep ruts and smashed riparian vegetation. The scene on Birch is even worse: sometime in 2001, extreme off-roaders used chainsaws to cut through mature willow, cottonwood, and birch forests along every riparian section of the overgrown 4'/2 mile route.
According to a 1999 Forest Service letter to the California State OHV Stakeholders group, the routes up Birch and Furnace Creeks washed out over two decades ago and to rebuild these resource damaging routes would not be "a cost effective use of federal or state funds." Unfortunately, off-road vehicle advocates are pushing the agencies to use precious (and limited)
Earlier this year, the overdue process of protecting these canyons began. Stating that the riparian damage placed Furnace Creek out of compliance with the Inyo's Forest Plan and the Sierra Nevada Framework, the Forest Service issued an emergency closure order, while the BLM, who manages the access route into the mouth of the canyon determined that "motorized vehicle use is causing significant adverse impacts to riparian habitat and water quality. Consequently, the need for immediate agency action is of critical importance" (Furnace EA, March 2003). The BLM has installed a locked gate at the mouth of Furnace Creek, while the Inyo is currently working on their own Environmental Assessment for permanent closure.
Acknowledging that there is no legal route up Birch Creek, the Inyo placed barricades at both the top and bottom portions of the canyon to halt illegal and damaging off-road use.
While off-road vehicle advocates sling half-truths and attempt to bully the agencies into reopening these canyons to destructive motorized recreation, the cottonwoods, rushes, deer and toads quietly reclaim and rebuild their desert home.
To learn more about what you can do to help protect these unique canyons, visit www.friendsoftheinyo.org.
SUMMER FIELD TRIP REPORTS
Shepard Pass Saddle
On June 21st, Kathleen Nelson, Inyo National Forest botanist, led a challenging hike of three miles and a 3000 foot elevation gain from a trailhead southwest of Independence to the saddle between Symmes Creek and Shepherd Creek.
Even in the ride to the trailhead, the fourteen participants knew they were in for a day of unusual flora when black oak (Quercus kelloggii) and chaparral whitethorn (Ceanothus leucodermis), both ordinarily West Side plants, turned up on the sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) flats. Two buckwheats were in fine bloom there as well: creamy Eriogonum fasciculatum var. polifolium and yellow E. microthecum var. ambiguum.
The hike, accurately described as "robust", begins innocuously enough with a walk of a mile or so along Symmes Creek, at this time of year booming through its narrow granite channel. Most of the floral richness of the day was found in this part of the walk. Western Tiger Swallow-tails and Lorquin's Admiral butterflies followed the stream course, which was thick with black
Kathleen identified many plants, including three Brickellias, three Galiums, and an aromatic parsely (Tauschia parishii). There were some bright blooms: scarlet Penstemon rostriflorus, orange red wavy-leaved paintbrush (Castilleja applegatei), burgundy bee plant (Scropularia desertorum), bright yellow wallflower (Erysimum capitatum), pink bog wintergreen (Pyrola asarifolia), blue pennyroyal (Monardella odoratissima ssp. pallida), dark brown chocolate drops (Caulanthus pilosus), and white wishbone bush (Mirabailis bigelovii var. bigelovii).
There were four slosh-through stream crossings. Between the third and fourth across the stream from the John Muir Wilderness boundary, Kathleen drew our attention to granite cliffs down which flowed patches of rock spiraea (Petrophyton caespitosum ssp. acuminatum), a plant most frequently found on limestone ranges east of here but in this location clinging in dense cushions to granite.
After the fourth stream crossing the trail climbs for fifty switchbacks to the saddle. It was a relief to burst from the Pinyon-Sagebrush grays and harsh sunlight into the intense green of greenleaf manzanita (Arctostaphylos patula), shrubby Penstemon (Keckiella rothrockii) and the shade of white fir (Abies concolor) and limber pine (Pinus flexilis). Beautiful Jamesia americana var. rosea tumbled over rocks; tall cream bush (Holodiscus microphyllus) was massed with bloom. The unusual onion buckwheat (Eriogonum latens), a low-growing perennial with red leaves and round clusters of white flowers, became common as the trail ascended.
The saddle itself lies below Mt. Williamson (14,375 ft.), a stark hulking peak with a notch at the summit, on which tiny patches and streaks of snow lingered. It was good to lie in the shade of a mountain mahogany under the immense canopy of the bluest sky as Violet-Green Swallows twittered overhead and reflect that for all of us the mountain would remain unclimbed, and we would plunge down the switchbacks, through the icy creek, and back to the trailhead before sunset.
With record-breaking heat in the Owens Valley, the weekend of July 13th was a perfect time to escape to the 9,000 ft. Coyote Plateau to explore the wonders of this fairly-isolated area so close to Bishop. Dedicated fourwheelers were rewarded by the miles of meadows and spectacular views of the Sierra and White Mountains that Coyote offers, and by a CNPS field trip led by Sherryl Taylor and Kathy Duvall that was enjoyed by 14 campers of all ages.
Three of us kindly offered to go up on Friday to secure the lovely campspot among the lodgepole Pines for the group, which arrived Saturday morning. After everyone was settled, we bounced five or six miles southward to the trailhead of our 2 1/2 mile hike to High Meadows, a spot above Big Pine Creek that offers unlimited views of the Palisades Glaciers and all the mountains of the Big Pine Drainage. As a person who regrettably will probably never learn most botanical names, I can only say that our walk through fields of lupine, buckwheat, paintbrush and penstemon, to name but a few, was a delight. The botanists among us were happy to find the rare white Lupinus padre-crowleyi on the last rise before the trail dropped down to Big Pine Creek. Fortunately, when we got back to camp a knowledge of botany was not needed to thoroughly enjoy a delicious dinner of burritos organized by Kathy and Sherryl.
The next morning we traveled over to Cow Creek, where Phill Kiddoo, a mountain yellow-legged frog expert with the Department of Fish and Game, described his work and the many reasons for the protection and restoration of frog habitat in some of the high Sierra lakes. Some of
The group then split up to explore different areas of Coyote, with several of us deciding to climb to the eastern edge of the plateau. From there we could look down on Big Pine and across to the White and Inyo Mountains, and enjoy another array of native flora on the hillside and among the rocks. Looking south, Sugarloaf Mountain at an elevation of about 11,000' beckoned, but with a long, bumpy road ahead of us to get back to Bishop, everyone agreed that another Coyote trip should be scheduled in a year or two when we would definitely make Sugarloaf our goal.
Telescope Peak, Death Valley
On the trip to Telescope Peak in Death Valley the third week in July, worries about heat proved unfounded, although concerns about rain were not! The trip was led by Jerry Zatorski and attended by five interns: two Seeds Of Success interns from the Bishop area, plus our counterpart from Las Vegas, a fisheries intern and a Geological Society of America intern.
The group camped at Mahogany Flats campground the night before the hike. At 8,200 feet, Mahogany Flats is a great place to camp; quiet and isolated, and cool even in the middle of summer. We enjoyed the sunset, and then a couple of hours later a thunderstorm passed through and we got to sleep to the sound of raindrops falling on our tents.
The next morning, Jerry gave us an introduction to the flora of the Panamint Mountains, and we started up the trail. We botanized at a leisurely pace for the first couple of miles. The purple sage (Salvia dorrii) was blooming and smelled wonderful. We saw two varieties of sulfur buckwheat growing next to each other: sulfur and pale sulfur (Eriogonum umbellatum, var, subaridum and Eriogonum umbellatum var. devestivum). We also saw fern bush (Chamaebatiaria millefolium) in bloom, and Jerry impressed us all by spelling out the Latin name.
Then the group decided to make a push for the top of Telescope Peak. The trail had climbed for the first three miles, but then it leveled off on a long open ridge that led to the base of the mountain. The ridge was dominated by sagebrush and a variety of wildflowers. The Lewis flax (Linum lewisii) was just finishing. We saw Panamint mariposa lily (Calochortus panamintensis), which is found only in the Panamints. Near the top, the purples and yellows gave way to bright red: Bridge's penstemon (Penstemon rostriflorus) and scarlet gilia (Ipomopsis aggregata).
It was a cloudy day (not what we expected for Death Valley) and hazy from the top, but we were looking down 12,000 feet of space to the valley floor and that was impressive. The Panamints are a beautiful and dramatic range, especially when seen from the top. And at the end, the geologist in the group remarked, "I hate to admit it, but I'd like to go on another of these plant trips."
Thank you to all our many renewals and a warm
Shannon Bliss - Ridgecrest
Deborah Bendinelli - Porterville
Connie Spenger - Big Pine
David Winkler - Ithaca, NY
Mark Schlenz and Jane Freeman - Bishop
Eileen Yardi - Santa Barbara
Cindy Ostrowski - Bishop
Michele Slaton - Big Pine
Next Newsletter Deadline: October 29th.
THE CALIFORNIA NATIVE PLANT SOCIETY (www.bristleconecnps.org) Bristlecone Chapter Newsletter comes out bimonthly. It is mailed free to members of the Bristlecone Chapter, CNPS. The subscription is $5.00 per year for non-members and can be obtained by sending newsletter subscriptions to CNPS. P.O. Box 364, Bishop, CA 93515-0364. Send newsletter articles not memberships to Newsletter Editor Anne Halford at 312 Shepard Lane, Bishop, CA 93514 - or email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The California Native Plant Society Bristlecone Chapter