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Newsletter - Web Edition

Bristlecone Chapter

The California Native Plant Society

“Dedicated to the Preservation of the California Native Flora”

Volume 33 No. 2

March-April 2012

View Print Edition (pdf) Newsletter plus field trip schedule (pdf)


Bristlecone Chapter Meetings

March General Meeting: Restoration Efforts at Benton Hot Springs

Wednesday, March 28, 2012, 7:00 pm at White Mountain Research Station, 3000 East Line St. in Bishop.

Mike Davis, California Department of Fish and Game, will be discussion his work with the Eastern Sierra Land Trust on a recent restoration project at Benton Hot Springs. This will be a preliminary report as the work is still underway, but this represents an important partnership with a private landowner.

March Bristlecone Chapter Board Meeting

Wednesday, March 21, 2012, 7:00 pm at the ESICE office, 512 N. 2nd St., Bishop. Members are welcome.

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From the Editor

Next Newsletter Deadline: April 25, 2012

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If you still receive this newsletter via US Mail, please send your email address to the editor (email address above) so you can receive the electronic version. Please help the Bristlecone chapter save money, energy, and trees

Newsletter editor sought – if interested, please contact the email address above.

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Upcoming Events

2012 Field Trips!

The 2012 Field Trips are now online on our events page. You may also download a PDF of the events we currently have planned. Check the Events page for updates, additions and revisions, however! CNPS field trips for March and April are also listed below:

CNPS Event March 17, Saturday, 8am: Wildflowers, Cyptobiotic Soil Crust, Microbial Mats, and Tufa Encrusted Limb Casts in Poison Canyon, led by Jane McEwen & Judy Breitenstein. This is a Creosote Ring Sub-Chapter event.

This tour of Poison Canyon, which connects Indian Wells Valley and Searles Valley, will focus on the chain of Pleistocene Owens, China, and Searles Lakes. The intermittent stream in the canyon supports an ecosystem similar to Mono Lake. Besides looking for wildflowers, which include species prevalent in Death Valley such as Gravel Ghost and Desert Five Spot and the more rare Twining Snapdragon in the Canyon bottoms, we'll drive across the wash up onto the "Badlands" type hills to look at tufa limb casts of shrubs or possible trees which were submerged during the Pleistocene and coated with calcium carbonate deposits.

Meet at the Maturango Museum (100 E. Las Flores, Ridgecrest) at 8:00 am to carpool. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are necessary for those who want to cross the wash to visit the tufa limb casts. Poison Canyon is 11 miles east along Highway 178. Bring lunch or snacks, water, jacket, good walking shoes, hat, sunscreen, camera. Contact persons: Judy Breitenstein; 760-375-2158 and Jane McEwan, 760-264-6206

CNPS EventMarch 25, Sunday, 9am: CNPS Event: Highway Clean-up. Leader: Scott Hetzler.

Meet at the intersection of Highway 395 and Pine Creek Rd., west of 395, at 9:00 AM. We will try to be done by 1:00 PM. For more information contact Scott at (760) 873-8392.

CNPS EventMarch 31, Saturday, 9am: CNPS Event: Mary Dedecker Native Plant Garden Spring Cleaning. Leaders: Sue Weis, Jerry Zatorski, Katie Quinlan.

This is an annual spring cleaning for the garden. March is a great time to jump on any exotic weeds and get them out before they drop their seed as well as trim up anything that might need it. We’ll meet at the garden at the Eastern California Museum in Independence at 9:00 AM, bring garden gloves, trowels, hand pruners, rakes, water, lunch, hats and sunscreen and wear sturdy work clothes. If you are traveling from Bishop, meet at 8:15am at the end of S. Fowler (next to DWP ) if you want to carpool down to Independence. For more information contact Sue Weis at 760-873-3485 or email at

CNPS EventApril 13-15, Fri & Sat, 10 am – 7 pm & Sun 10 am – 5 pm: Wildflower Show at the Maturango Museum, 100 E. Las Flores, Ridgecrest, 760-375-6900. This is a Creosote Ring Sub-Chapter event.

With so little rain thus far (mid-Feb.), can we really hope for nature to blanket the ground with color? We are not to despair. At the time of this writing there are nine weeks to go before our annual Spring Wildflower Exhibit. That is a lot of time for the weather to cooperate and for seeds to be seriously germinating. Actually, as often has happened in the past, with warm spells there already are some wildflowers coming on. Our longtime desert denizens know that the Maturango Museum's Gallery will be filled with beautiful wildflowers this April 13 - 15, as it is every year. In this, the second year of the Ridgecrest Desert Wildflower Festival, newcomers also can assuredly anticipate a wonderful exhibit. This is a claim confidently made because of the experienced teams knowing where to best collect in their assigned mountain and valley areas. What a grand opportunity to view wildflowers up close in all their varieties and intricacies! "Inquiring minds" can find further satisfaction in the identification of each flower by both common and scientific names. Of special interest to all will be a presentation of beautiful photographs of our local region's wildflowers on Sunday, April 15 at 2:30 p.m.

To accommodate out of town visitors to the Festival the wildflowers will continue to be displayed on Monday morning, April 16, 2012, 10:00 to 12:00 noon.

CNPS EventApril 21, Saturday: Surprise Canyon, Panamint Mountains led by Shelley Ellis, Ridgecrest BLM Biologist. This is a Creosote Ring Sub-Chapter event.

We will be joining the local Kerncrest Chapter of the Audubon Society for a trip to Surprise Canyon on April 22. Surprise Canyon is about 2 miles north of Ballarat in the Panamint Range. The lower end of Surprise Canyon is on BLM administered land, and the upper part is in Death Valley National Park. A perennial stream runs through Surprise Canyon with riparian vegetation contrasting sharply with the surrounding badlands. Panamint daisies and Panamint dudleya are a couple of the interesting plants that grow here, as well as Ferocactus cylindraceus. People have often seen bighorn sheep clamoring up the cliffs of the canyon walls. The hike follows the stream which has a series of waterfalls flowing over dolomite bedrock. Be sure to wear shoes that have good traction, but can also go in the water. In places, the stream (the hike) goes through dense willows. Bring the usual: water, food, sunhat, long sleeve shirt, sun lotion. A walking stick is highly recommended. Bring binoculars since late April encompasses the spring migration season. We will meet at the Park and Ride on the corner of Ridgecrest Blvd and Richmond Rd near the south end of China Lake NAWS. Those who would like to arrive early in the canyon to see more birds will meet at 7:00, while others will meet at 8:00. The hike can be any distance. Some people may just want to go to the base of the falls, while others may continue up to Limekiln Springs. Underneath the grape leaves on a lush green slope, water seeps out of a mossy wall covered with ferns. Contact person: Shelley Ellis

CNPS EventApril 28, Saturday – Southern Owens burned areas. Leader: Martin Oliver.

Details TBA (check back on the main Events page for updates)

Check the Events page for more!

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News From the Greenhouse

I know spring is coming when the bottom shelf of my refrigerator has been given up to seeds stratifying for the plant sale. I put the first seeds into their damp cold bags at the end of December and the number of bags keeps growing daily until the middle of March when I open the greenhouse and they all get planted in soil.

This year I tried something new and put some seeds into pots in cold frames in my garden, now I have some little lupine and Balsamorhiza sagittata starts showing their leaves. This is exciting because I didn’t scarify the lupine seeds first, and if I can get lupine seeds to sprout this way, I don’t have to sit and scratch each seed before I plant it. Lupine is a tricky plant because it has a tendency to damp off.

greenhouse plants

Overwintered Bitterbrush at the Greenhouse

At the greenhouse, the maintenance has been taken care of and the tables are ready for plants. The garbage cans are full of soil ready for planting day. I re-plumbed the drip system and moved the tables around so I can get the wagon and ladder between the tables. This should help my aching back. With this dry winter I have been going out every other week to water the overwintering plants. Besides watering, I check the goings on of the critters around the growing area. A mole has decided to push up a burrow in one of my planted beds; fortunately he came up between my plants and hasn’t taken out any of the plants. I will have to see how extensive his excavation plans are.

It looks like the cottontails were having a hoot-n-nanny out in the grass because there is a lot of scat scattered about. Two years ago when I set out seedlings in the flower beds I discovered another great use for pots with the bottom cut out, they make great shade structures and rabbit fences. I had a great basin wild rye in one that was 2 years old, I figured that it was established well enough that it didn’t need a shade protector any more, the day after I took it off the rabbits cropped the grass down to half its size!

Great basin wild rye is an important wildlife plant and I now know why my plant at home doesn’t self-seed, between the birds, rabbits and mice, it is a wonder that grass grows at all. On the shade house tables the mice have cropped the little grass seedlings down. With the warmer weather and longer days I am seeing new sprouts come up so in the end I think their grazing won’t matter much. But seeing the mice activity has reminded me to get the mousetraps out and super glue the nuts to them so they don’t dig up all my seeds in the greenhouse. I have a love hate relationship with the mice as they dig up the seeds like the lupine, but they plant Datura wrightii for me. I haven’t been able to get Datura wrightii seeds to grow myself, but the mice plant it in the overwintered plants, which allows me to transplant it, saving me the trouble of starting it. This week I noticed that the mice have been very busy planting seeds as there were lots of little holes dug in the various pots.

On May 3rd, from 3:30 to 5:30, the Eastern Sierra Land Trust will be holding their 2nd annual “Garden Fest” and I will have plants that have overwintered for sale. So if you missed the sale last fall, or realized that you have a spot for one more native, there will be plants available at the Garden Fest. To see what plants there might be go to the plant sale page for a current list of plants available. I won’t be bringing all the plants to the sale but you can contact me if there are certain ones you would like.

— Katie Quinlan

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Native Americans and Native Plants

The January 2012 CNPS conservation conference in San Diego offered some excellent speaker sessions, poster and presentations by our own members and others working in the Eastern Sierra (unlike me, some attendees put in some effort!), and fun gatherings where we could catch up with the state's other botanists.

It was great to see a session on Tribal Conservation and Traditional Use of Native Plants at a CNPS event. CNPS was founded in 1965, but has generally done little to reach out to California’s Native Americans. The session was chaired by Dean Tonenna, a BLM botanist with training in ethnobotany, who is also affiliated with the Mono Lake Kootzatukadu.

Speakers included:

  • Rick Flores, who works at the UC Santa Cruz arboretum and has become involved in a project to restore an area with deer grass and white sedge used for basket-making, located in Pinnacles National Monument, territory of the Amah Mutsun;
  • Richard Bugbee who teaches at Kumeyaay Community College about the interdependence between land and people;
  • Stan Rodriguez of the Santa Ysabel/San Diego Kumeyaay who spoke about how important the regional flora was and still is to traditional lifeways and said, “when we get along with each other, we get along with the earth”;
  • Abe Sanchez, an artist who makes traditional style baskets thus has an eye for quality natural material;
  • Shana Gross, a USFS ecologist who is leading a planting/restoration project near Lake Tahoe (Tallac) to grow traditional plants for the Washoe, which they will be able to harvest and use as needed;
  • Dean Tonenna, who gave two presentations, one about restoring the Truckee River to its natural channel and another about the importance of peage, the pandora moth larvae that feed on Jeffrey pines, and the setting aside of “Peage Park” in the Inyo National Forest; and
  • Lucy Parker, Yosemite Miwok and Mono Lake Paiute, daughter of renowned basket weaver Julia Parker, who showed a video documentary about her mother and the respect for the land and the attention to detail that goes into basketry.

Excellent examples of baskets were displayed, and Dr. Kat Anderson, author of Tending the Wild (and co lead on the Big Pine Tribe’s nahavita project) was in the audience and her work was acknowledged appreciatively.

The session was a good reminder of human interdependence with native plants. Even as botanists, we might walk right by species that perhaps aren't so showy or rare. It's important to appreciate California's plants that for ages nourished, healed, or otherwise helped humans live their lives.

Sally Manning

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“Avoid” is equivalent to “mitigate after the fact”

In the Sept-Oct, 2011 issue I discussed the fact that Inyo County’s challenge to DWP’s 2011 pumping program over pumping at Blackrock had led DWP to initiate its own challenge of Inyo’s right to challenge a pumping program at all. DWP argued that challenging a pumping program in order to “avoid” creation of impacts was equivalent to seeking mitigation after the fact. The process for seeking mitigation after the fact requires a joint analysis by DWP and Inyo at the Technical Group. Hence, by DWP ’s logic, Inyo cannot challenge a pumping program with having first gone through the joint process for determining if mitigation after-the-fact is necessary. Because DWP is a party to this joint process, this reading of the LTWA effectively gives DWP veto power over Inyo’s right to challenge a pumping program at all. In summarizing the situation I wrote,

“The good news is that finally, a decade after DWP put forth this self-serving LTWA interpretation, it may actually be challenged. The bad news is that it is entirely possible DWP will win, not because of the merits of its arguments, but because of its virtually unlimited resources for bombarding the arbitrator/judge with BS, and because of the demonstrated ineffectiveness of Inyo County legal staff regarding the LTWA. It promises to be a thoroughly depressing spectacle.”

The issue was sent to arbitration in December, 2011. Inyo County chose one arbitrator, DWP chose another, and the two arbitrators jointly chose a third.

As I feared, it was a thoroughly depressing spectacle. Inyo’s legal team failed to persuade even its own appointee to the arbitration panel to support its argument. The three arbitrators were unanimous in their inability to see a distinction between “avoid” and “mitigate” and ruled that Inyo cannot challenge a pumping program in the interests of impact avoidance without first following the procedure for determining if mitigation after-the-fact is required.

Given that challenging individual pumping programs is not the most effective way to realize the LTWA’s goals, the decision will not have too much immediate effect. In the big picture, however, it eliminates an important check on DWP ’s power, and means the important language in the LTWA about avoiding impacts is unenforceable by Inyo County. The decision is a striking example of how attorneys can take straightforward language and give it nonsensical meaning.

— Daniel Pritchett

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The California Native Plant Society is an organization of lay persons and professionals united by an interest in the plants of California. It is open to all. The society, working through its local chapters, seeks to increase the understanding of California's native flora and to preserve this rich resource for future generations. Varied interests are represented.

To JOIN or RENEW: please contact Sally Manning or JOIN or RENEW ONLINE

Membership Application

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Bristlecone Chapter Directory

President: Yvonne Wood
Past President / Partnerships: Steve McLaughlin (760) 938-3140
Vice President: Holly Alpert
Treasurer: Rosanne Higley (760) 387-2803
Secretary: Rosemary Jarret 760-387-2782
Membership: Sally Manning (760) 873-3790
Newsletter Editor: Daniel Pritchett (760) 873-8943
Conservation: Daniel Pritchett - (760) 873-8943
Adopt-A-Highway: Scott Hetzler (760) 873-8392
Plant Communities:
Sally Manning - (760) 873-3790
Education: VACANT
Programs: Holly Alpert
Field Trips: Sue Weis (760) 873-3485
DeDecker Native Plant Garden: JoAnn Lijek (760) 873-8503
DeDecker Grant Program: Jan Bowers (760) 938-3140
Publicity: Jenny Richardson 760-872-6589
Historian: Ann Fulton (760) 873-9261
Librarian: EvelynMae Nikolaus - (760) 878-2149
Rare Plant Committee Chair: Kathleen Nelson (760) 873-2400
Plant Sale Committee: Katie Quinlan (760) 873-8023, Sherryl Taylor (924-8742)
Book Sales: Sue Weis (760) 873-3485
Posters: Stephen Ingram (760) 387-2913
Creosote Ring Sub-Chapter Coordinator: Kathy LaShure (760) 377-4541
Webmaster: Maggie Wolfe Riley

THE CALIFORNIA NATIVE PLANT SOCIETY ( Bristlecone Chapter Newsletter comes out bimonthly. It is free to chapter members. To subscribe to this newsletter without joining CNPS, please send $5.00 per year to CNPS, P.O. Box 364, Bishop, CA 93515-0364. ATTN: subscriptions. Send newsletter articles (not memberships) to newsletter editor Daniel Pritchett at

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