First annual monitoring field day, 6-1-02
(also 6-8)

by Dave Imper

For those of you interested in knowing more about some of our plants on the North Coast, and at the same time helping to insure that they stick around for future generations to come, there are many ways you can volunteer.

Annual Monitoring

Several species that are considered rare and endangered throughout their range (CNPS List 1B) occur locally in Humboldt County or on CalTrans roads rights-of-way. Examples include the western lily (Lilium occidentale), coast and Siskiyou checkerblooms (Sidalcia spp.), and Wolf's evening primrose (Oenothera wolfii). The chapter, in cooperation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, would like to implement annual or biennial monitoring on these sites and periodically report the findings to the respective agency. In most cases, monitoring would take no more than an hour or two per site. No botanical expertise is needed to conduct the monitoring - just a willingness to collect a little data and take pictures, and (preferably) commit to continuing the monitoring from year to year.

Adopt A Species

Legal protection notwithstanding, the best protection a rare species can have is provided when individuals take the responsibility for keeping an eye on ("adopt") a particular plant throughout most or all of its range. Adoption can be challenging as well as rewarding, in that one has the opportunity to become intimate with the species and its habitat, the known occurrences, threats, and its habitat requirements. In effect, the adopter becomes the "expert" simply by watching the species over time. For example, a good candidate for adoption is the seaside gilia, known from only 12 dune sites in California and Oregon. Little is known about this species, event though it is undoubtedly threatened by OHV use and/or invasive exotics. Although not necessary, the task of adopting a species is best taken on by individuals with some botanical background.

Rare Plant Historic Occurrence Field Searches

We know very little about many of our rarest species on the North Coast. For example, the pygmy manzanita (Arctostaphylos mendocinoensis) is known from only a few sites in pygmy forest near Mendocino. The marsh milkvetch (Astragalus pycnostachyus var. pycnostachyus) hasn't been seen in Humboldt County since 1930. Some of the most enjoyable rare plant searches involve a little sleauthing and trying to relocate old collection sites that may have changed drastically over the past decades. It also helps to have some botany background for this task.

If any of these projects tickle your fancy, let one of the Rare Plant Daves know (Dave Imper 707-825-5112 or David Loya 707-269-1382), or show up at our first annual monitoring field day on Saturday, June 1st, 9 am, at the south end of the Bayshore Mall parking lot. Bring a sharp eye, camera (digital if you have one), pad and pencil. Sense of humor recommended ... not required.

[ed. note: Groups are expected to return by early afternoon. There will be a second monitoring day on 6-8.]

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