Even amid a pandemic, many large land development proposals surfaced in 2020 and Conservation Committee members showed up to online public meetings to speak for our native flora. We also worked for passage of Antioch’s Measure T so voters can decide about development at Sand Creek (it passed overwhelmingly), joined a lawsuit to challenge a woefully inadequate environmental impact report for Point Molate, advised agencies on the beneficial role of keeping lower fuel-load native flora during local vegetation treatment work, participated in a new East Bay Regional Park District advisory group on the uses of narrow trails, and worked with the University of California on the care of the Richmond Field Station coastal prairie. We expect another full year ahead. Thank you for your support of this work as a member and by writing or calling elected officials on important issues.
— Jim Hanson, Conservation Committee Chair, CNPS East Bay Chapter
Rare Plants Committee, Interrupted
The beginning of the year was promising. We re-formed as a committee and worked with the Unusual Plants Committee to inform our volunteers about how to use the chapter’s Database of Rare, Unusual, and Significant Plants and how to enter data into Calflora. The Rare Plants Committee sponsored two hikes: in February, a “ramble” off the Skyline Trail below the Tilden Steam Trains parking lot through western leatherwood (Dirca occidentalis) country to see them in all their gorgeous flowers; and a hike in March in Diablo Foothills Regional Park to observe fragrant fritillaries (Fritillaria liliacea).
Alas, with social distancing requirements due to COVID-19, committee activities ground to a halt. In November, Camille Nowell came on board as the new Rare Plants Committee Chair. Here’s hoping 2021 brings us more opportunities to survey our rare plants.
— Cynthia Adkisson, outgoing Rare Plants Committee Chair, CNPS East Bay Chapter
Re-assessing the Rarity of Unusual Plants
Dianne Lake, our Unusual Plants Committee Chair and an honored CNPS Fellow, moved our chapter’s understanding of unusual (locally rare) plants forward by leaps and bounds this year. Starting with her presentation about the Unusual Plants Program at our January members meeting, Dianne reinvigorated the Unusual Plants Committee with new volunteers and organized two half-day field training sessions to acquaint them with data collection (all before the pandemic began). The data the new volunteers gathered this year, along with data from experienced volunteers and information gleaned in Dianne’s exhaustive search of online plant observation records, became part of her effort to re-assess the rarity of unusual plants in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Ultimately Dianne’s analysis will be published in the Bay Leaf newsletter as well as distributed to local planning and land management agencies and consulting firms, who can always benefit from reminders about protecting our unusual plants. Watch for Dianne’s report in the Bay Leaf in 2021.
— December 2020