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Spring 1999 Newsletter




April 25
Earth Day Celebration at Bridgeport
May 1
Wildflower Show at Pleasant Valley School
May 2, 16 & 29
Hell's Half Acre Wildflower Walks
May 8
Plant Sale and Wildflower Show
May 22
Party at BLM's Dead Man's Flat
May 25
Chapter Meeting at Condon Park
April and May
Docent-led Walks at Spenceville
June 13
American River Festival, Auburn
June 23
Chapter Meeting on Alpine Plants


Saturday, May 8, Sierra College Rocklin
The Day Before Mother's Day

Our semiannual plant sale is just around the corner. Again, we will be offering a broad and appealing selection of native plants and drought tolerant perennials. These plants belong in any garden of distinction, and they are often very difficult to find. Included will be plants that attract butterflies and songbirds. Carolyn Chainey-Davis previews some of the plants that will be available in her Gardening with Natives article on pages 4 &5. So don't miss this opportunity. See the enclosed flyer for other offerings at the sale.

Of course, there will also be a fabulous display of native plants in the Wildflower Show. Chet Blackburn has been working very hard--as usual--to serve up a feast for our eyes. The plants and flowers, which will include specimens specifically grown for this show and a broad selection of plants currently blooming in the Valley and surrounding foothills, will be clearly identified. So if you would like to acquaint yourself with new flowers or merely refresh your memory regarding the familiar, this is a great opportunity. Experts will be on hand to answer any question on native plant culture and design. There were also be a free Wildflower Walk around the Rocklin campus led by Sierra College botanist Shawna Martinez.

Coinciding with out plant sale this year will be a campus-wide open house at Sierra College Rocklin. This will include campus tours, children's activities, the horticulture club, a youth job fair, an exhibit hall and live entertainment. Plenty to do for the whole family!

Wonder woman Kate McBride has again been doing a magnificent job of lining up nurseries and doing the great amount of planning that is required for one of these events. But she needs help!! Help is needed especially on the May 8th Sale Day. So please--can't you spare a couple of hours?

Our plant sales have been very popular the last few years, and this year we are trying to have more help on hand to make everything run smoothly. Among the many planned improvements is that for the first time we will even be accepting credit cards! The following help is urgently needed on May 8:


Set-up Crew
7:30--9 a.m.
Plant Tagging
8--10 a.m.
10 a.m.--2 p.m.
Tallying Purchases for Customers In Line
10 a.m.--12 p.m.
12 p.m.--2 p.m.
Poster & Book Sales
10 a.m.--2 p.m.
Clean-up Crew
2 p.m.--3 p.m.
7 a.m.--10 a.m.
10 a.m.--2 p.m.
If you can help, call Kate McBride at (530)477-0662

Kate also needs help in distributing flyers prior to the sale in Rocklin, Auburn, Colfax, Roseville and Grass Valley/Nevada City.

We will try to have cardboard boxes for people to transport plants with, but if you could bring your own, it would really help. Also if you have a garden cart that could be used for the day to transport purchases to cars, please contact Kate. Finally, it would be greatly appreciated if your could spread the word about the plant sale, for instance by posting the flyer in a public place.

Even if you can't volunteer to help, please make an effort to participate in the sale. Proceeds will be used to continue the education, outreach, and conservation projects of our Chapter.


Sunday, April 25, 11 a.m.--4 p.m.
Bridgeport, South Yuba River State Park,
Penn Valley

Come celebrate Earth Day at Bridgeport with guided wildflower walks provided by knowledgeable volunteer docents from the South Yuba River Park Association and our Redbud Chapter, as well as guided bird walks conducted by the Sierra Foothills Audubon Society. There will be special children's activities, music and poetry plus a wealth of information and displays from other community and environmental organizations. Water and soft drinks will be available.

Your CNPS Chapter will be there with a photographic display of native trees, shrubs and wildflowers from the Bridgeport area. Also available will be great new books and old classics on California's remarkably diverse flora, native plant propagation and wildflower hiking trails. Those classic CNPS wildflower posters--Sierran wildflowers, desert wildflowers and more-- will be there too, plus a complete calendar of events of field trips and special events of several local conservation groups. This really is a BIG celebration and a beautiful setting on the Yuba River. Show your local community how much its citizens care about the environment.

Also, be aware that this is not the only day on which to enjoy guided wildflower walks at Bridgeport. Throughout the spring wildflower season, docents of the South Yuba River Park Association will be leading wildflower walks every Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m. The open hillsides of Bridgeport afford visitors one of the earliest, most accessible and most colorful wildflower displays to be found in Nevada County. The Buttermilk Bend Trail provides an easy, relatively flat hike of 1.25 miles (2.5 miles round trip.) Larger groups desiring a docent-led hike should call the Park Office at 432-2546 to make a reservation.


Saturday, May 1, 9 a.m.--4 p.m.
Pleasant Valley School, Penn Valley

The Redbud Chapter will be participating in a festival at Pleasant Valley Elementary School designed to increase the awareness of students to the wildflowers and ecology that surrounds them. This is designed to be a community celebration of wildflowers, native plant ecology and botanical art. Among the attractions will be a student wildflower art exhibition. Renowned wildflower expert Julie Carville is among several plant experts helping teachers to develop educational activities for students. Should be informative and fun for all ages. For more information about the festival, call Paul Harrar at 478-6400.

Our chapter will have a display area with books, posters, photos, etc., as well as a display of live wildflowers. Karen Callahan is co-ordinating the effort for our Chapter , and can use some help. Make sure the next generation develops the same appreciation of wildflowers as we have. If you would like to help, call Karen Callahan at (530) 272-5532.


April 18, 25 &28; May 2, 4, 19, 23 & 26
Yuba/Nevada Counties

Throughout April and May, the Friends of Spenceville, a coalition of local conservation groups and activists, is sponsoring a series of field trips designed to introduce people to the many natural and historical charms of the 11,000 acre state-owned wildlife and recreation area currently threatened by the Waldo Dam proposal. Some of the hikes will be geared to the botanical treasures and their Native American uses, others focused on the bird-watching opportunities. Trips for the 'generalist' are also planned and all trip leaders will be educated on the fascinating history of the area and the dam proposal that threatens it all. The field trips are by reservation only with limited enrollment to ensure a quality experience. For reservations and field trip information, call Richard Thomas at (530) 265-2666 or e-mail him at


by Carolyn Chainey-Davis

Note that the California Department of Fish & Game (CDFG), landowners of the Spenceville `Area', refer to it not as a `wildlife refuge', and want this distinction to be clearly made by local conservation groups organizing field trips and public awareness campaigns. Unlike other CDFG-owned preserves, Spenceville does not harbor any `listed species'--- at least that they're aware of. CDFG manages the area for `game species', i.e., turkey hunts, from which the sale of hunting licenses pays for the management of the area. We also know that CDFG is under-staffed, and Spenceville may be a low-priority compared to state-owned preserves containing species on the brink of extinction. However, wildlife biologist Brian Williams and others have found occurrences of both listed and special concern species at Spenceville, but no `Element Occurrence (EO)' reports have been filed yet with CDFG by the biologists that made the sightings. This may be due perhaps to their knowledge that CDFG is four years behind updating the Natural Diversity Database (NDDB)-- a database depended-on by environmental consulting firms doing impact assessments such as the assessment ultimately required for the Waldo Dam environmental impact report (EIR). As an example, absolutely nothing comes up on the database for the Spenceville area. We're speculating this may, in part, be why CDFG has been silent on the issue of the Waldo Dam proposal.

Would knowledge of special-status species change the way CDFG views or manages Spenceville? We're not even sure whether there is a management plan for Spenceville. But we do know that this is a perfect opportunity to raise the awareness of CDFG and their concern about the Waldo Dam proposal. Would the knowledge of special-status and listed species, alone, stop a dam proposal? Probably not, but it does add to the list of impacts. Knowledge of significant cultural resources, particularly ancient Native American resources, also helps. Your local CNPS chapter has set a new goal to get those EO reports filled out and submitted by the biologists that made the findings, and to try to get CDFG behind Spenceville.

In the mean time, the Friends of Spenceville has unveiled the draft of a spectacular map-sized brochure about Spenceville. Viewing the unveiling at a `Friends' meeting, my first reaction was `this isn't just a map of Spenceville, it's a natural history of the lower foothills of the Sierra'. Complete with photos, illustrations and well-written vignettes of more than 30 birds and other wildlife, wildflowers and trees you're likely to encounter there, plus a section on the fascinating history of Spenceville. Well -written, well-done graphics, it's sure to be a hit, not just with local conservationists, but with anyone interested in the flora, fauna and history of the region, not to mention with local bookstores.

The map was funded largely through a contribution from South Yuba River Citizens League (thanks SYRCL!) and donations from Sierra Club, Jim Hurley, Audubon, CNPS and the Rural Quality Coalition. Each contributing group will receive 50 or so maps that they can either sell to members or donate. I'm proposing that CNPS should donate their share of maps to the horseback riding clubs or hunting clubs that use Spenceville and appear to carry weight with CDFG and, possibly, with the Yuba County Water Agency that is pushing the Waldo Dam proposal. What do you think?


May 2, 16 and 29 led by Carolyn-Chainey Davis

Chapter president Carolyn Chainey-Davis has worked tirelessly for the preservation of Hell's Half Acre. She loves the area passionately and has been its greatest champion. You can enjoy some of her boundless enthusiasm on three upcoming wildflower walks being sponsored through the Nevada County Land Trust's Treks Through Time Program. The Sunday, May 2nd hike will focus on the first wave of color, featuring ephemeral monkeyflowers, fragrant meadow foam, butter & eggs, brodieas, and cowbag clover. The Sunday, May 16th hike is expected to be during the period of riotous color of meadowfoams and madias, white hyacinth, purple butterfly weed, meadow rue, pygmy sedum, lupines and colorful clovers. The final Saturday, May 29th hike is expected to feature Farewell-to-Spring and three other luxuriant species of lavender and magenta clarkias. Also debuting in the late spring are Sidalcea, sandwort, mountain jewelflower, paper onions and lemon-yellow buckwheats. On this last hike Carolyn will be joined by her brother, Mark Chainey, an avid birder, who will identify the towhees, juncos, woodpeckers, hummers, vireos, wrens, and sparrows of Hell's Half Acre.

The May 2 and 16 hikes last from 9 a.m to noon; the May 29 from 8 a.m. to noon. Each hike costs $15 for the general public and $10 for members of the Nevada County Land Trust. For more information and sign up, call the Treks Hotline at (530)265-6609 or check out their Website.


May 14, 7:30 p.m. by John Wehausen
Sewell Hall, Sierra College, Rocklin

If you are unaware of the terrific Sierra College Natural History Museum's Program Series, it is well worth your while to become acquainted. The programs offers an outstanding series of lectures on a wide variety of natural history topics. Their upcoming slide-show lecture on bighorn sheep is particularly topical. The last five herds of Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep has just been declared "endangered" by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Down to an estimated 100 individuals, the bighorns are now rarer than the Florida Panther. John Wehausen has tracked the bighorn since 1974. He is Research Scientist with the White Mountain Research Station and President of the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Foundation. He will discuss the history and current status of this magnificent animal, as well as management dilemmas and frustrations with recovery efforts. Admission is $2. For more information about the lecture and the series, see the Web-site at or call Joe Medeiros at (916)789-2725.


May 22

With a name like 'Dead Man's Flat' and a face of serpentine and gabbro chaparral that only a mother could love, the BLM parcel between Highway 20 and the McCourtney Road landfill in Grass Valley is truly the underdog of local conservation concerns. No sexy rivers or wildlife here, and yet, from a perspective of biological diversity, the chaparral of this vicinity is far more significant than most natural areas in Nevada County. Just ask the 'Queen of the Chaparral' Marsha Braga, botany teacher at Sierra College, or the region ecologist for Fish and Game, Julie Horenstein, or The Nature Conservancy. The gabbro chaparral of the McCourtney Road area is 'rare plant heaven' to local botanists and the California Native Plant Society. But with no rolling hills of velvety green grass and oak woodlands, no majestic conifer forests, even many local conservationists are immune to the charms of rare species and natural communities found here. In fact, the Dead Man's Flat parcels have been used by the local community as a dumping grounds for years, and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) John Scull has organized a team of local celebrities to help clean it up. District Supervisor Izzy Martin and The Union editor John Seelmeyer will join the party on May 22nd at Dead Man's Flat to help us figure out the best use for the site, to pick up garbage, and party, and they're inviting you. For more information, contact Carolyn Chainey-Davis at (530)273-1581,


Condon Park, Grass Valley
Tuesday, May 25th, 6:00 to 8:30 p.m.

Condon Park is a little-known wild place near the heart of Grass Valley. Unlike other urban parks , most of its 78 acres is in a natural state with only walking trails and a disc golf course included in the natural portion of the park. In addition to the walking trails, the park also offers opportunities for observing birds and wildlife in a natural setting.

This quality was ranked highly by the Neighbors of Condon Park, a grassroots group of park neighbors that formed in the summer of 1997 as a result of a timber harvest at the park. After a year of negotiation, the group successfully persuaded the City of Grass Valley to spend most of the revenues generated by the timber harvest to replant with native species to restore wildlife habitat, restore privacy around the perimeter of the park and repair the trails.

The group also persuaded professional wildlife biologist Susan Sanders, Ph.D. and revegetation specialist Carolyn Chainey-Davis to prepare a biological inventory of the park and a revegetation plan to restore privacy around the perimeter of the park and enhance wildlife habitat along the creek. Brian Bisnette spent 60+ hours using GIS equipment to produce a first-class map of the park's trails, biotic resources and other park facilities.

The first phase planting around the perimeter of the park began in mid-February and utilized seedlings of locally native, low-flammable shrubs and vines, most of which were propagated from Nevada County parent stock. Western redbud (Cercis occidentalis), snowdrop bush (Styrax officinalis var. redivivus), hoary honeysuckle (Lonicera hispidula var, vacillans), buckeye (Aesculus californica), coffeeberry (Rhamnus tomentella), coyote brush (Baccharis pilularis), madrone (Arbutus menziesii), California bay (Umbellularia californica) and canyon live oak (Quercus chrysolepsis) are all part of the perimeter planting . A different set of locally native riparian species will be planted this fall along the creek, including native brodiaeas (Dichelostemma spp.), giant chain ferns (Woodwardia fimbriata), spicebush (Calycanthus occidentalis), wild grape (Vitis californica), blue elderberry (Sambucus mexicana) and other locally native species designed to enhance wildlife habitat.

After a casual potluck picnic (please bring a little something), revegetation specialist Carolyn Chainey-Davis will describe the revegetation techniques and take you on a tour of the 'reveg' planting and the wooded trails in Ponderosa Pine forest that are so important to so many people here.

Condon Park will also become home to a rescued population of Humboldt lily (Lilium humboldtii ssp. humboldtii), a CNPS List 4 species of 'limited distribution'. Plants rescued from the Eskaton Senior Housing development off Ridge Road will join an existing small population at Condon Park.


by Carolyn Chainey-Davis

Create a `real' native Sierran meadow, not one of those cheezy `meadow-in-a-can' meadows full of aggressive non-native species. At the upcoming plant sale on May 8th, wholesale native plant grower Cornflower Farms will feature several choice native grasses and meadow wildflowers in low-cost liner sizes. Not all are drought-tolerant, many are native to moist montane meadows and would require regular irrigation, but nowhere near the upkeep and pest & disease problems of a Kentucky bluegrass lawn... and certainly not as boring. Loose and weed-free soil, light fertilizer and supplemental irrigation is required for quick establishment and good vigor. Start small, like 250 square feet, and expand later. And don't be put off by common names like `swamp onion' and `Bigelow's sneezeweed'-- if they weren't ornamental, I wouldn't put them on the list

Montane Meadow

Common yarrow
Achillea millefolium
Swamp onion
Allium validum
Alpine aster
Aster alpigenus
Slender sedge
Carex praegracilis
Berkeley sedge
Carex tumulicola
Idaho fescue
Festuca idahoensis
Bigelow's sneezeweed
Helenium bigelovii
Western blue flag iris
Iris missouriensis
Crocus-flowered lily
Lilium parvum crocatum
Deer grass
Muhlenbergia rigens
Sticky cinquefoil
Potentilla glandulosa
Blue-eyed grass
Sisyrinchium bellum

Does your pond look like a stock pond? Do a planting of native riparian species to enhance wildlife habitat and reduce the algae problem by shading the pond and lowering water temperatures. And don't forget to use some willows-- birds love willows. All species listed below are locally native and tolerant of wet feet and/or seasonal flooding. Not coincidentally, they're also easy to grow. Only the more ornamental species are listed, and only those that will be available at the May 8th sale (while supplies last)

Pond or Riparian Restoration

Bigleaf maple
Acer macrophyllum
White alder
Alnus rhombifolia
Spice bush
Calycanthus occidentalis
Western clematis
Clematis ligusticifolia
Red twig dogwood
Cornus stolonifera
Common rush
Juncus effusus
Deer grass
Muhlenbergia rigens
Western sycamore
Platanus racemosa
Valley oak
Quercus lobata
California wild rose
Rosa californica
Sandbar willow
Salix exigua
Gooding's willow
Salix goodingii
Blue elderberry
Sambucus caerulea
Western spiraea
Spiraea douglasii
California wild grape
Vitis californica

Do you have a small urban garden or planning a rock garden of native plants? All the species listed below are small, non-aggressive, suitable for rock gardens, and available at the May 8th sale (while supplies last)

Shady Rock Garden of Native Species

Western columbine
Aquilegia formosa
Slender sedge
Carex praegracilis
Idaho fescue
Festuca idahoensis
Alum root
Heuchera micrantha
Wild iris
Iris spp.
Crocus-flowered lily
Lilium parvum crocatum
Lonicera involucrata
Sierra gooseberry
Ribes roezlii
Creeping snowberry
Symphoricarpos mollis

Sunny Rock Garden of Native Species

Lemmon's ceanothus
Ceanothus lemmonii
California fuschia
Epilobium canum
California fescue
Festuca californica
Rock spiraea
Holodiscus microphyllus
California melic grass
Melica californica
Bush monkeyflower
Mimulus aurantiacus
Blue-eyed grass
Sisyrinchium bellum

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Last updated
Apr 25 1999