RARE PLANTS NEED YOUR HELP
First annual monitoring field day, 6-1-02
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.
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.]