California Native Plant Society

 

California Native Plant Society
Orange County Chapter
May/June 2008

Contents
President's Corner
Introducing--Nature Writings
Conservation
Job Opportunity
CNPS Conservation Symposium
RSABG Summer Classes
Horticulture: Suggestions for Summer Watering

OCCNPS Comment Letter

CALENDAR

 May 3--Upper Newport Bay FT
May 3--Garden Tour
May 8-- Board Meeting
May 12–18--Santiago Creek Week
May 15--Chapter Meeting
June 5-- Board Meeting
June 19--Chapter Celebration
Weed and Seed:
Thursdays 10-1--UCI Arboretum
Any day, 8:30-noon--Fullerton Arb
2nd Saturday--Irvine Open Space
3rd Saturday--Bolsa Chica
4th Saturday--Upper Newport newsletters Bay

Chapter meetings are held at The Duck Club in Irvine. Doors open at 7 PM and the meeting
begins at 7:30. A wide variety of books and posters are available.

Directions to the Duck Club:

Driving south on the 405, exit on Jamboree and turn right. Turn left on Michelson, the first signal. Stay on Michelson. At the 3rd signal turn right onto Riparian View. Pass the IRWD water treatment plant. Follow signs to Audubon House and the Duck Club.

Driving north on the 405, exit on Culver and turn left. At the second signal, which is Michelson, turn right. Continue on Michelson to the third signal, Riparian View, turn left toward the IRWD treatment plant and follow signs to The Duck Club. [Thomas Guide to Orange County, page 859 J-7]

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CHAPTER MEETINGS

Thursday, May 15The Flora of San Diego County and the Plant Atlas Project

Speaker: Jon P. Rebman, Ph.D.

Our southern neighbor, San Diego County, contains more than 2,314 native and naturalized plants and, like Orange County, is an internationally recognized hotspot of biological diversity that is being threatened by urbanization. Yet the floristic diversity has not been fully documented, leaving agencies and land managers scratching their heads with a limited amount of scientific data available while responsibilities for conservation and informed decision-making continue to increase. This is where the remarkable San Diego Plant Atlas Project steps in.

Come learn about the flora of San Diego County and the fascinating Plant Atlas Project spearheaded by San Diego Natural History Museum Curator of Botany, Jon Rebman. This ambitious multi-year project is designed to greatly improve scientific knowledge of regional plants through better documentation of the flora of San Diego County. This is being done in a new way by training volunteers from the community (parabotanists) how to properly survey, collect herbarium-quality voucher specimens, and record field data about plants in natural areas throughout the county. What a concept!

Since its inception in August 2003, the project has developed a website (www.sdplantatlas.org) to assist parabotanists and provide an outlet to the public. It has added approximately 31,000 new voucher specimens for the County, including more than 200 discoveries of new county records and one new taxon, with exact geographic coordinates. It has also created online floristic search processes and resources for mapping plant distributions. The Plant Atlas Project has conducted 35 training classes, and has recruited almost 600 volunteers to facilitate the project.

Dr. Jon Rebman is the Curator of Botany at the San Diego Museum of Natural History. He is also Adjunct Faculty, Department of Biology, San Diego State University. Too numerous to mention are Dr. Rebman’s many honors, research interests, scientific papers, field work, and floristic surveys.

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Thursday, June 19—Discover our Native Cacti, Agaves, and Yuccas!

Speaker: Steven Ingram

Join us at our special Chapter Celebration as botanist, writer, and photographer Stephen Ingram thrills us with beautiful images and relates fascinating information

about California and Nevada’s cacti, agaves, and yuccas. Steven has traveled more than 30,000 miles—much of it on remote back roads—to search out, study, and photograph these intriguing plants. He has also delved into the scientific literature, visited numerous herbaria, and interviewed our region’s leading experts. His presentation will be both a work of art and a scientific encounter with this diverse and intriguing component of the West’s native flora.

Not surprisingly, these succulents hold a particular fascination for plant lovers. They beguile us with lush blossoms that are exuberant but ephemeral and wonderful growth forms that stir our imaginations. Fiercely armed, they can easily pierce an unsuspecting hiker or careless gardener with sharp spines, toothed leaves, or stealthy glochids. And their hardiness is an ecological marvel; many of these species are residents of the hottest, driest, and least fertile habitats in the Western Hemisphere.

Steven’s work has resulted in a detailed, highly readable, and beautifully illustrated natural history and field guide. Cacti, Agaves, and Yuccas of California and Nevada is an engaging and substantive reference book that can be enjoyed by novice and expert alike. Featuring more than 60 species with a detailed text that is accompanied by 262 color photographs, 16 botanical watercolors, and 52 range maps, this book is much more than a field guide. It examines the natural history of California’s and Nevada’s cacti, agaves, and yuccas, including their origins, ecology, and conservation. It also provides practical horticultural advice for their cultivation and describes some of the best places to see these remarkable succulents in the wild.

Stephen Ingram is a native Californian with an enduring interest in plants and plant ecology. He received a B.S. in biology from Lewis and Clark College and a M.A. in botany from the University of California, Santa Barbara. In the early 1990s, Stephen was employed at the Research Department of Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida, where he managed the herbarium and worked on epiphyte flora of Monteverde, Costa Rica. More recently, he served as a botanical consultant doing rare plant surveys in the Eastern Sierra and the Mojave Desert. Stephen now focuses on photography and writing full time. His photos appear in numerous books, magazines, and calendars, and he has written many articles for scientific journals and magazines. Stephen is past president of the Bristlecone Chapter of the California Native Plant Society and a founding board member of the Eastern Sierra Land Trust. He lives with his wife, Karen Ferrell-Ingram, on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada, in porcupine prickly-pear habitat. To see more of Stephen’s images visit his website at www.ingramphoto.com.

We will have copies of this brand new book on hand and our speaker will be happy to sign copies for those attending!

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President’s Corner

Meet your new president…

I grew up in Pittsburgh, graduated from Pennsylvania State University, and transplanted to California in my early 20's with my husband Bob. We have 2 grown-up kids, Hanna and Noah, who were born Californians and grew up in San Juan Capistrano. I've been a birder for 20 years and a plant enthusiast since college, but I majored in accounting and have worked in business as a CPA for my whole career. Luckily I started working with Tree of Life Nursery in about 1995 and have had the pleasure of merging my business knowledge and native plant interests in a very unique way since then. CNPS Orange County has an amazing leadership team which I'm privileged to join, and I look forward to continuing to bring the native plant message to our friends and neighbors in the county. Whether they know it or not, they really need to hear more about native plants and the environment!

Laura Camp, Chapter President

Please welcome Laura to the helm. She has some wonderful ideas for vitalizing our chapter. For some time, I have been spread too thin, not giving enough attention to the leadership role. When Laura suggested that she would be willing to assume the position, I said yes immediately! Most of the goals I set myself as president are in motion, if not completed. I am still newsletter editor, webmaster, and secretary of the chapter board and the Chapter Council. Idleness will not overtake me.

We are working on by-laws for the chapter and will get back on a regular election cycle by the end of the year. If you would like to participate in this process, we always welcome input from our members.

Thank you for your support over the past three years.

Sarah Jayne, Retired Chapter President

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Introducing…

NATURE WRITINGS

Be part of the development of a new species of haiku hybrid: Poemsis trilineate. Send your three-line poems (haiku in spirit, if not exact syllable count) about our native flora to Thea Gavin at for possible printing in an upcoming CNPS newsletter. Here is one of Thea's three-line poems to begin this series:

Garden Notes #5

Dew and sun and dirt and air—

what wilderness and we are here—

light crowns the monarch and the wild flowers bow.

Thea Gavin, a chapter member, teaches writing at Concordia University. A long time trail runner, she feels that “…we live in a beautiful area that needs to be celebrated and recorded in writing for this and future generations to appreciate.

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2008 CHAPTER FIELD TRIPS

We have had a grand season of field trips, put together by our outstanding field trip team, Richard Schilk and Joan Hampton. There are pictures from several of these trips on our website—www.occnps.org, Spectacular Spring. A huge THANK YOU to Richard and Joan for all their work in contacting leaders, setting up the trips, divining directions, taking reservations, and generally making the trips happen.

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CONSERVATION REPORT

ALISO CREEK: The Aliso Creek Inn and Golf Course will be open (i.e. golfer-less) for a walk-around site tour on May 10, 2008, 2-5 PM. Entrance to the property is at 31106 Coast Highway, Laguna Beach. Park onsite, in nearby Aliso Beach County Park parking lots, or along Coast Highway. Carpooling is advised.

The tour is in relation to the Notice of Preparation recently issued by the City of Laguna Beach for the "Aliso Creek Area" project, which will impact a nearly one square mile area in South Laguna and includes a major proposed expansion of the Inn.

The property straddles Hobo-Aliso Ridge, which is vegetated with rare Southern Maritime Chaparral and home to 12 special-status native plant species and several rare animal species. The coastward side of the ridge may be seen in the Coastal Records Project’s Image 8598 (californiacoastline.org). The property’s northerly boundaries are contiguous with Aliso/Wood Canyons Wilderness Park and the Laguna Greenbelt.

For more information: lagunabeachcity.net/; http://64.58.157.203/government/departments/alisocreekplan.htm for the Initial Study. A scoping session is scheduled for Monday, May 19 at 6:30 PM in Laguna Beach City Council Chambers, 505 Forest Ave, Laguna Beach. Comments may be sent to: .

CHINO-PUENTE HILLS: On May 13th the City of Brea Planning Commission will consider the approval of the Final EIR for the Canyon Crest Project in eastern Brea. The 169-unit development will remove 1,900 oak and walnut trees, bulldoze ridgelines, and cut off public trail access to Chino Hills State Park.

ACTION NOW: Attend: 1) a rally on May 8, 4:30-6:00 PM at Carbon Canyon Road and Santa Fe in Brea, 2) the Planning Commission hearing, May 13th, 7 PM, City Council Chambers, Brea). Contact: Eric Johnson, 714-524-7763.

SAN MATEO CREEK: On February 6, the California Coastal Commission listened to reason and the law and, 8-2, denied the Transportation Corridor Agency’s (TCA) SR 241 (Foothill South Toll Road) Preferred Route through San Onofre State Beach. The decision to deny was reached after the Commission’s Staff Report’s detailed findings that the route could not be more environmentally damaging, reiterated in thousands of pages of written public comments and a 12-hour hearing attended by a record-breaking 3000+.

The TCA is not willing to accept the Commission’s decision and has appealed to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to overrule the denial. The appeal is possible because the route runs through federal land, the portion of USMC Camp Pendleton that is leased to the State Beach.

ACTION NOW: Send a comment letter to Carlos Gutierrez, Secretary of Commerce, before May 28! This project, if allowed, would set a dangerous precedent on taking parkland for non-park use. If the denial is overridden at the federal level, all parks and preserved open spaces everywhere are at risk. Feel free to use/crib from:

—Surfrider Foundation’s online letter, http://actionnetwork.org/campaign/tollroadappeal0408

—Sierra Club’s online letter, http://ga1.org/campaign/Secretary_Commerce

OCCNPS’ comment letter.

Celia Kutcher, Conservation Chair

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ANNOUNCEMENTS

CNPS Seeking Conservation Program Director

The state office of the California Native Plant Society is seeking a full-time Conservation Program Director. This position requires a highly organized and visionary conservation advocate to lead, develop and implement the Conservation Program of the society.

The Conservation Director, who reports directly to the Executive Director, works with CNPS volunteers and staff to develop and promote policies relevant to plant conservation in California. The Conservation Director also participates in public outreach.

This is a full time, non-exempt “at will” position. The main work location is in Sacramento with required occasional travel and overnight stays for coordination meetings. Please go to www.cnps.org and click on Job Announcement, Conservation Program Director for complete information on this important position.

CNPS Conservation Symposium

January 17 – 19, 2009, Sacramento Converntion Center and Sheraton hotel. Details at www.cnps.org

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RANCHO SANTA ANA BOTANIC GARDEN
Spring 2008 Community Education Classes

Horticulture Classes

Saturday, May 17, 9:00 AM – 12:00 noon: Gardening with Cacti and Succulents

Sunday, May 18, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM and Saturday, May 31, 10:00 AM – 12:00 noon: Garden Walks: Focus on Cacti

Saturday, June 7, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM: Collecting, Processing, and Storing Native Plant Seed

Botany Classes

Saturday, June 14 , 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM: Top 20 Native Plant Families Part II: Identification Workshop

Bob Allen, Research Associate, RSABG and Author

Natural History Classes and Field Trips

May 10, 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM: Wacky World of Pollinators: Native Plants & the Critters that Love Them

Bob Allen, Research Associate, RSABG and Author

May 10, 7:30 AM – 4:30 PM: Post Fire Succession in the Chaparral of the San Bernardino Mountains: Natural History Trip

Steve Boyd, Herbarium Curator, RSABG Saturday,

Sunday, May 18, 7:30 AM – 4:00 PM: Botany Trip to the Santa Monica Mountains

Lorrae Fuentes, Director of Education

Sunday, June 8, 7:30 AM – 4:00 PM: Plant Life of the San Gabriel Mountains

Lorrae Fuentes, Director of Education, RSABG

Please visit rsabg.org for complete information or call the garden at 909-625-8767.

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Join the fun:

Santiago Creek Week, May 12-18

The 6th Annual Santiago Creek Week 2008 is a collaboratively sponsored series of events designed to draw attention to the Santiago Creek Watershed and its many important features and resources. The whole week is packed with fun activities for the entire family.

On May 12 through 18, you can participate in the Steelhead Run Eco-scavenger Hunt, the Santiago Creek BioBlitz, Art in the Park, History Comes Alive, Creekbed Cleanup, and the Watershed Wonderfest.

On Sunday, May 18, the grand finale is the Watershed Wonderfest. The celebration will include an environmental expo, orienteering activity with REI, food, live music, nature tours, guest speakers, an art show, and award ceremony.

For details, please visit: http://www.santiagocreek.org/creekweek.htm

With the community organizations, local government agencies, and other stakeholders involved, this year's Creek Week is sure to be the best yet.

Joel Robinson, Outreach Coordinator, Santiago Creek Watershed Preservation & Restoration Project

P. O. Box 2731, Orange, CA 92859-0731

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HORTICULTURE

Suggestions for Summer Watering

Advice is always a two edged sword, something that should be dispensed and received with caution. No supposed expert is ever the last word on matters, especially when these issues relate to our wondrous native plants.

One question I have been asked many times is when and how much to water natives—especially in the summer months. Rather than write a book on the subject, I direct you to the recently published California Native Plants for the Garden by Carol Bornstein, David Fross, and Bart O’Brien. The plant descriptions often include good maintenance information.

For our local use, the small but very informative Tree of Life Nursery Catalog gives you much detailed information regarding watering requirements and whether a particular plant has the potential to naturalize in our landscape. If you do not have the catalog, purchase it from Tree of Life Nursery—it has a wealth of information!

There are also some websites that help with watering concepts, mechanics, and other plant information. Tree of Life nursery and Las Pilitas nursery have outstanding website and some water districts have websites with information from general to specific.

Still, here are a few hints on summer watering of natives, a tricky concept to discuss since every gardener has different soils, exposures, techniques, and levels of success that seem to transcend logic. This advice will probably be all right as long as you remember that there are no hard and fast rules that apply in all situations. There is no magic formula for treatment of all native plants.

Now that you have been warned and have read this disclaimer, let us consider some seemingly disjointed factors that may directly influence watering practices during the hot months.

Basic Concepts

Where do you live? A Mediterranean climate like ours is mainly affected by proximity to the coast. Very close to coast means cooler summer and fall seasons and less evaporation of water. Sometimes that bit of moisture saved is enough to help a plant through the summer. Inland a few miles? The need for cautious irrigation increases. Riverside? Wow! Lots of evaporation and the need for added water. The more extreme the climate (hot days and cold nights) the greater the need for picking plants that can take those conditions and still do well, without lots of additional summer water. Plant selection becomes key and local natives have an edge. In some of those hot areas the soils are sandy or rocky enough to provide such excellent drainage that root rot is not a large issue, but not always.

Soils. It may not be fair, but clay soils have poor drainage. If you have clay, you may be walking the tightrope that first summer with some plants, trying to water as little as possible and still keep the plant alive. Too little water and the cells breakdown; too much water and root rot pathogens have a chance to attack. Now if you have a mound of decomposed granite, sands, and light gravel, you should find that you can water more frequently without trouble. Establishment of plants in such situations becomes far easier! Owners of such mounds have been seen gazing at a healthy Manzanita and chuckling to themselves. Clay does have some advantages, but better draining soils are almost always preferred.

A few words about Root Rot. Almost everyone’s soil has various species of root rot pathogens swarming around in it, even yours. They aid in the decomposition of sick plants and such, but are also arch enemies of a few of our favorite natives such as Manzanita, Woolly Blue Curls, and Fremontodendron. The pathogen itself can’t do much unless given the right conditions—at which point it can infect and devastate your favorite plant seemingly overnight. What conditions do root rot pathogens need? Warm, moist soils—preferably heavy soils. And if you have natives planted in clay-based soils and it’s summertime and you water, what do you have? A prime hunting ground for the various plant-killing fungus pathogens. And since you cannot change the soil you have (well, not really—go back to Soils), you must try to limit summer water for those natives that are sensitive. Or, take the reasonable road and plant only natives that are not susceptible to the root rot pathogens and can therefore tolerate some summer water. (I’m afraid I am not reasonable in this regard; I must have Fremontia and Manzanita.)

Root to shoot ratio. Lush growth in late spring can lead to summer trouble. Even if plants are able to handle more water than they need without root rot pathogens attacking, their young root systems may not be able to provide enough water for all those leaves, especially during hot summer months. Let’s say you provide generous watering for your new Chaparral Currant (Ribes malvaceum) through spring and into early summer. It grows fine, does not rot away—in fact it puts on a proud amount of lush foliage. The proportion of root mass to foliage is called the “root to shoot” ratio. Envision a small root system, only slightly larger than the root ball you planted in November, with just a few adventurous roots probing more than half an inch into the surrounding native soils. Also envision the above ground portion of the plant—a pleasure to the eye, twice or three times its original size when you installed it just a few months ago, due in large part to your generous spring watering. You may have a problem. Why? Most water leaves a plant in one way—evaporation from leaf surfaces. There are other factors to consider, humidity (or lack of), wind, and exposure to sun, but basically, the more foliage there is the more water a plant looses and therefore the more water it must have to stay alive. If that moisture is not provided, cell structure breaks down and leaves and even small stems are abandoned, drying and dying. Sometimes a plant will put out new leaves and if water is made available, may survive. But more often with young plants, that first big shock is too much and the plant never recovers. So, since a rather small root system cannot really support a large amount of foliage easily, you will notice it wilting dramatically on a summer’s afternoon. You water it and the plant may respond well—or not. Either way, a moderate rate of growth is a better way to grow a healthy plant.

Other Considerations

When did you plant? Hopefully in the late fall or early winter, giving your new native the best possible start towards life in your garden by allowing roots to penetrate surrounding soil just a bit before summer hits. Those small silvery-white root hairs moving outward from the original root ball mean a great deal when considering a new plant’s abilities to gather water. Note: Planting in spring is actually OK for a large number of riparian species, some oak understory material, and many of the cultivars whose origins are the central and north coastline (a surprising number!). I have also planted many plants from the Coastal Sage Shrub community in spring with fair results, but generally most of these plants do better with a fall or early winter planting.

Where did the plant originally come from? There are many plants that do fine with summer watering. Consider what plant community your plant came from and that can sometimes tell you a lot about its watering requirements. Plants from Riparian, Redwood, Mixed Evergreen Forest, North Oak Woodlands, and even several of the Foothill Woodland species do fine with some summer watering. Even many of the Coastal Sage Scrub plants survive summer watering. Watering a young Sage, Buckwheat, Lemonade Berry, or Bladderpod once or twice a month that first summer is expected (and appreciated). Some Chaparral plants are not bothered by some water during summer (Mountain Mahogany, Toyon, Ceanothus); while others such as Manzanita, Woolly Blue Curls, or Fremontodendron, are extremely sensitive to fungus pathogens and can perish from a single summer watering. With such plants you should strive to limit watering in summer, especially in the heavy clay soils, and after the first year avoid summer water entirely unless they are planted in that heaven of perfect drainability mentioned above in Soils.

How old is the plant? A plant that has been in the ground for a few years is less likely to need much summer water than a new plant. The root system has grown and is more able to obtain enough moisture from the soil to make it through the summer. That does not mean you would deliberately withhold water from natives that appreciate summer watering. Deergrass, Douglas Iris, Yarrow, and many others can make it through summer without irrigation but look more attractive with that added water. Of course, on becoming familiar with the natives you have, you will find out whether a little summer water keeps your plant looking fresh or if such watering creates problems. Ask people who also grow natives!

Sun or Shade? Often just the amount of sun a plant gets dictates the water it needs (if it can tolerate it). A plant with high shade from a nearby tall tree or the afternoon shadow of a structure will loose less water through evaporation than the same plant in full sun. Note: a piece of shade-screen staked on the southwest side of a Woolly Blue Curls (a classic summer water-hater) may not look great but could help get it through that first critical summer by slowing evaporation from sun-heated leaf surfaces and lessening the need to water.

Mulching benefits: As long as it is kept a few inches away from the plant’s main stem or trunk, mulch is highly desired in reducing water evaporation from the soil. There is the added benefit of keeping the soil temperatures somewhat balanced, the mulch acting as an insulating blanket, preventing extremely hot or cold soils. These more moderate soil temperatures mean longer periods of root growth, allowing the plant to gather more of its own water without you needing to get out the hose.

Planted in the ground or in containers? Normally, plants in the ground have less need for watering than plants in containers. The very fast draining soils used in pots and the drain holes in the bottom mean that even with a shallow tray underneath water runs past the roots and out the bottom rather fast. While this helps prevent root rot issues, it does mean a plant can dry out much more quickly. These plants may need daily water in the summer.

If you must water, what time of day is best? Generally the coolest time of the day, early morning or even late evening is the best time to water. If there is a day you “know” (or the weatherman claims) will soar into the 90s then wait, if possible, for a day of lower than normal projected temperatures. To improve the success rate with watering natives, do it infrequently, at the coolest time of day (early morning is best), on days that are expected to be cool, and as a deep soaking accomplished by a slow drip. Note: If you have some new native plants requiring that little extra watering to get through the first summer, don’t turn on the entire irrigation system and don’t program your entire system to come on more frequently! Water those new plants individually with a hose.

Conclusion

Talk to people: If you read this and are more confused than ever, my apologies. In that case ask someone who also grows natives and you will usually find them willing to share experiences and knowledge. This is perhaps the best way to improve your native garden in many ways. Don’t know anyone who grows natives? Go to the state website at www.cnps.org and click on the “Growing Natives” discussion board. Various competent people answer questions thoughtfully there. You can also attend our chapter meetings and talk to people about particular problems you are having. Don’t be shy—chances are someone has encountered and overcome the same problem.

Determine which plants you have that are most sensitive to summer water and remove drip emitters (if you have them) from the area after the first summer. Also be sure that a neighbor’s irrigation runoff cannot collect nearby and that family members coming out to spritz the garden understand that those plants are to stay dry in summer months. The staggering beauty of a fully flowering Flannel Bush is a sight to see—by all means protect it from unwanted summer water!

Fear is the enemy, knowledge your friend: Don’t feel thwarted by the possibility of a plant not doing well if you water too much or too little; learn what you can and give it a try! You won’t be sorry and you will learn as you go with far fewer losses than I may have caused you to envision.

Get to know your garden: Unlike conventional landscapes demanding copious amounts of water at most times of the year, a native landscape asks that you get to know its citizens and its seasonality and not provide what it cannot use. Realize that the summer downtime most natives enjoy is also a respite for you. As seeds mature through the summer into fall, leaves of the Buckeye drop in summer dormancy, and bulbs sleep beneath a cover of native grasses, take a break yourself and enjoy a garden in seasonal transition.

—Dan Songster

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Carlos Gutierrez, Secretary
Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20230

Dear Secretary Gutierrez,

The Orange County Chapter of the California Native Plant Society (OCCNPS) was among the thousands of groups and individuals who urged the California Coastal Commission to make its 8-2 decision that the Transportation Corridor Agency’s (TCA) proposed Route 241 extension (FTC-S) is inconsistent with the enforceable policies of the California Coastal Management Program.

OCCNPS has long opposed the TCA’s Preferred Alternative route. We fully concur with the Commission’s Staff Report, which amply details that this route is one of the most environmentally destructive transportation projects in California history. The route:

- would clearly result in significant environmental damage and irreversible impacts to populations of 7 special-status species and to the many forms of Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area that inhabit the lower San Mateo Creek watershed,

- would “... fragment and transform one of the last remaining intact watersheds and coastal canyon ecosystems in all of southern California.” (staff report, p. 4),

- cannot possibly be done in an environmentally conscious way,

- and will do so much environmental damage that no amount of mitigation can be done to offset it.

OCCNPS has two specific concerns with the TCA’s Preferred Alternative:

1. The San Mateo Creek watershed, by the fact of its still-natural state in urbanized southern California, is of inestimable biological and ecological value. Its healthy native habitats are home to a full range of non-rare native plants and animals in addition to the 7 special-status species described in the Staff Report. It is far more valuable to the long-term public good as natural open space than whatever benefits the TCA’s Preferred Alternative may bring. The San Mateo watershed’s integrity must not be sacrificed--lost for all time--for a traffic solution that the TCA’s “design horizon” expects to be adequate until just 2025 (staff report, p. 3).

2. The Staff Report states (p. 5) that the TCA’s Preferred Alternative “... raises disturbing questions about the integrity and permanence of areas that have been set aside as habitat reserves, state parks, and ... as mitigation for previously approved development.” OCCNPS concurs, and feels that the Preferred Alternative is even more of a threat to the integrity and permanence of all parks and protected areas, everywhere, than it is to the integrity of San Mateo Creek’s watershed.

As noted on p. 21 and detailed in pp. 114-116 of the staff report, San Mateo Campground, located along San Mateo Creek within the Cristianitos subunit of San Onofre State Beach, “... was provided as mitigation for impacts from the San Onofre Generating Station ...” The Donna O’Neill Land Conservancy, nearly contiguous with the northern boundary of the State Beach’s Cristianitos subunit, similarly was created as mitigation for the Talega development in San Clemente. (The 1200-acre Conservancy is located along Cristianitos Creek, a major tributary of San Mateo Creek, about 3.5 miles upstream from the campground.) The Preferred Alternative route would bisect both the Conservancy and the Cristianitos unit lengthwise, destroying them and negating their and the campground’s mitigation roles.

The precedent set by allowing the TCA’s Preferred Alternative route to run through these two mitigation sites would negate the resource-protection purposes of California’s Coastal Act as well as Natural Communities Conservation Programs, Habitat Conservation Plans, and similar programs. It would have serious reverberations for all environmental-protection laws, nationwide. All parks and protected areas everywhere, which belong to all the people, would be at risk of having their integrity and permanence shattered by private projects. Parks and protected areas would become warehouses for future development.

For all these reasons, OCCNPS urges you to DENY the TCA’s appeal to your Department to override the Coastal Commission’s decision to deny consistency certification for its Preferred Alternative for the SR-241 Foothill-South route.

Respectfully,

Celia Kutcher

Conservation Chair

cc:

CNPS Conservation Team

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