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F R E M O N T I A 1 9
V O L U M E 3 1 : 2 , A P R I L 2 0 0 3
by Elizabeth McGee
ou may already know that
the north coast of California
is home to giant redwoods,
large stands of Douglas-fir, dune
plant communities, serpentine
mountains, and numerous endemic
species, but did you also know it
was home to the "Arcata Mafia?"
During the early months of 1970,
James P. Smith, John Sawyer, and
Virginia Rumble met on the
Humboldt State University (HSU)
campus (in Arcata) to discuss orga-
nizing a chapter of the California
Native Plant Society on the north
coast. With enthusiastic support of
then statewide president Ledyard
Stebbins, the chapter was estab-
lished in March of 1970. The first
North Coast Chapter president was
John Sawyer.
All three of the founders worked
at the state level in various capaci-
ties and implemented changes that
were not always well received.
While making changes to meeting
times and places, formulating state-
wide field trips, and creating a rare
plant botanist position, Jim, John,
and Virginia were sometimes not so
affectionately called the "Arcata Ma-
fia." However, their extraordinary
vision is what makes our chapter
what it is today: a group of people
excited about native flora and dedi-
cated to conserving and educating
others about native plant species
and their habitats.
One of the best ways to share an
enthusiasm for plants is to explore
with other enthusiasts on field trips
and share information through pre-
sentations by knowledgeable speak-
ers. These educational activities have
been the foundation of our chapter.
At the very first meeting of the
North Coast Chapter, new mem-
bers were treated to a slide presen-
North Coast Chapter members replanting the rare western lily (Lilium occidentale) in January, 2001. Photograph by D. Imper.

Home California Native Plant Society - North Coast Chapter, P.O. Box 1067 Arcata, CA 95518-1067