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Welcome to El Dorado Chapter of the California Native Plant Society. Our chapter lies in El Dorado County on the west slope of the Sierra Nevada, stretching from the foothills at the edge of the Sacramento Valley to the mountains at Echo Summit. Our chapter works to protect and teach about all native plants in the county, from rare to common. More.
Check out our Newsletter, bimonthly Meetings, and Spring and Summer Fieldtrips.
Drought: For information about native plant advantages in the garden and other resources, please click here.
FALL NATIVE PLANT SALE!
Saturday, October 3rd, 9am - 1pm
Just in time for fall planting comes our Fall Native Plant Sale Saturday, October 3rd in front of the County buildings across from the Placerville Public Library. We'll have a great selection of native and drought-tolerant trees, shrubs, perennials, grasses from some of Northern California's best native plant nurseries, all chosen knowing that they grow well in our area. In addition, we'll have native wildflower seeds especially chosen for our area, and books for sale and displays on gardening and landscaping with native plants, foothill and Sierra Nevada natural history, insects and bees, plant id posters and books and a whole lot more! And if you are new to gardening with native plants or an old hand, there will be plenty of experienced CNPS members and gardeners on hand to answer your questions.
The link below will provide with a list of plants likely to be availabe at the sale so that you can plan ahead for your shopping trip. We cannot take orders for plants prior to the sale, so make certain you come early (we open at 9am) for the best selection. Cash or checks only and all sales are final.
The sale will be held at the El Dorado County Government Center between buildings A and B at 330 Fair Lane, Placerville, across the street from the Placerville Public Library.
For a preview of likely plants at the sale, check out the Fall 2015 plant sale list.
Note: Volunteers are needed! No experience necessary. Call Shellie at 530-644-6335. Also we need your sturdy cardboard boxes for shoppers to bring their plants home in. If you've got some, we want them!
El Dorado County and Our Native Plants
El Dorado County lies on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe. Along the edge of the Great Valley, some grasslands contain vernal pools with a succession of spring-flowering annuals, while the lower foothills have areas of gabbro and serpentine soils which support special endemic plants, and the rivers and streams have lush riparian woodlands with a number of different species of shrubs and herbs. To the east of Pollock Pines we enjoy the Eldorado National Forest which offers a wide variety of destinations, from drought-tolerant foothill and montane chaparral to subalpine above 9000 ft in the Desolation Wilderness, to the shores of the largest alpine lake in North America, Lake Tahoe. Our Chapter covers lands west of Echo Summit, while the Lake Tahoe Chapter covers the Tahoe basin.
The California Native Plant Society is a state-wide organization dedicated to protecting the native vegetation that is too often seen as "in the way" when it comes time to bulldoze for a development! By joining, you will be getting to know the plants and learning their importance; then you too can contribute to the well-being and happiness of the community.
If you want to start learning about native plants and why theyneed protection, CNPS is for you.
General meetings: 7:00 p.m, the fourth Tuesdayof Jan, Mar, May, July, Sept, and Nov. Chapter meetings are free and the public is always invited to attend. Meetings usually include a show-and-tell about one or more seasonally notable plants, announcements of upcoming chapter events and projects, and a speaker presentation. We hope that you will mingle and meet interesting new friends who share an interest in plants and the natural places of the surrounding foothills.
Directions: Meetings are held at the Planning Commission Room, Building C of the County Government Center, 2850 Fairlane Court, Placerville. If approaching from Highway 50 on Fair Lane, turn left at the top of the hill onto Fairlane Court and drive down the hill to the large parking lot in front of Building C. The Planning Commission Room can be entered from the right side of the building's atrium.
Nov. 24, 2015 7 PM Speaker: Dr. Joe DiTomaso, "Problematic and expanding invasive weed problems in the California foothills"
Some of the more problematic invasive plants within the foothills of California will be discussed with emphasis on their impacts on wildland ecosystems and native plant communities. This will include widespread problems such as yellow starthistle and other thistles, tree-of-heaven, perennial pepperweed, brooms, and others. In addition, new expanding weed problems, including stinkwort and oblong spurge, and their potential expansion and impacts will be discussed. Dr. DiTomaso is a UC cooperative extension specialist in non-crop weeds, Director of the Weed Research and Information Center at UC Davis, past president of the Weed Science Society of America, and senior author of the definitive two-volume guide to “Weeds of California and Other Western States”. To find out more about Dr. DiTomaso’s work, see:
Our Love Affair With Lawns
Drive most anywhere in California this year and you’ll see vast acreages of dead lawns. Maybe you buy the spin that our lawns are now “golden”, but there is little that is attractive in a dried up lawn, with bare patches invaded by more drought tolerant plants, like bur clover. Perhaps if California was settled in the usual way by trickles of adventurers instead of by the flood of easterners seeking gold we would see landscapes like those in other dry-summer climate areas instead of transplanted East Coast landscapes that depend on summer rain that does not fall here. Those East Coast lawn-dominated landscapes are themselves a holdover from the English who first colonized our eastern shores – a landscape that relied on drizzling English summers to remain green. Yet our love affair with lawns remains even after a series of droughts have turned them “golden”.
Lawns guzzle more than water; they require regular mowing, fertilizer applications, and a sophisticated understanding of pest management and the proper pesticides to contain weeds, kill insects, suppress diseases, and eradicate the native mammals that are at home there – pocket gophers. As the fertilizers and pesticides move into the surrounding environment though irrigation runoff and the food chain, they cause cascades of impacts; algae blooms, fed by fertilizers and lawn clippings, create dead zones in ponds and lakes; anticoagulant rodenticides, targeting voles and gophers in the lawn, travel up the food chain to kill hawks and owls, coyotes, vultures, and even family pets. Until recently, when stricter EPA regs went into effect, gasoline lawnmowers accounted for 5% of all air pollution in the US, and refilling those tanks results in greater spillage in one year than the Exxon Valdez oil spill – 17 million gallons of gasoline.
While lawns provide good habitat for native gophers, and forage for the odd rabbit or deer, they are mostly an ecological blank. Valuable pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds find no flowers here, and without flowers, fruit and seed-eating birds find no food, either. Even insect and earthworm eating birds, like Robins, may find little food in a pesticide treated lawn. In the context of all the foregoing, lawns should be viewed as an environmental and ecological fiasco.
What are the alternatives? Karin Kaufman, in a talk sponsored by the El Dorado Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, will discuss some great options for replacing lawns including grasses that use less water than conventional turf grass, lawn substitutes, and converting lawn areas into outdoor living areas and beds filled with drought tolerant, colorful plants. She will also cover how to irrigate efficiently and discuss methods to downsize or remove lawn.
Kaufman, a landscape architect from Nevada City, last spoke to a standing-room only audience in Placerville in March 2014 on sustainable landscape design incorporating native plants. With Alicia Funk, she is the co-author of “Living Wild: Gardening, Cooking and Healing with Native Plants of California”. In her upcoming talk titled, "Landscaping after the Lawn" she will illustrate the design principles of her previous talk using “before and after” case studies. Many of the native plants featured in her talk will be available for purchase at a native plant sale in Placerville, across from the library, on October 3rd. Back to top
We offer free field trips during Spring and Summer to many areas, and you are invited to attend. You don't need a science background to participate; most of our members are not formally trained botanists, simply people who enjoy learning about our native plants. Contact the trip leaders by the Wednesday prior to the hike if you wish to request a plant list and to let them know you're coming.
Follow the Example of Willis Jepson..."A scientific interest in at least certain features of our natural environment, as for example the trees, shrubs or herbaceous plants, directs one to useful and agreeable intellectual activity. Accurate and detailed knowledge of even a small area lifts the possessor out of the commonplace and enables him directly or indirectly to contribute to the well-being and happiness of his community."
-Willis Jepson, Trees of California, 1921
Our logo flower is the Pleasant Valley mariposa lily, Calochortus clavatus var. avius, a member of the Lily family that was once so common in the Pleasant Valley area of Placerville that people would dig them up for home landscaping. Now they are listed as 1B: Rare, threatened, or Endangered and can only be found in a dispersed population on the Eldorado National Forest, at one location in Placer County, and in eight small occurrences in Calaveras County. (Click on the thumbnail photo to open an enlarged photo.)
El Dorado County is updating the Biological Resources Policies and Implementation Measures in the County’s General Plan.
Let the County Supervisors know you care and that oak woodland is valuable
Do you love our county oaks and appreciate their tremendous habitat potential? Do you enjoy living in a rural county? Or do you want to see current protections for those oaks, protections that were approved by voters with the 2004 General Plan, eliminated?
Remind the Supervisors:
- Existing residents matter
- Oak woodlands have tremendous value:
o Oaks are key species for supporting biodiversity
o Oak woodlands provide important ecosystem services
o Oak woodlands support property values
o Oak woodlands contribute to the general well-being of residents
Background and what is being proposed
In the 2004 voter-approved El Dorado County General Plan, developers were limited in how much oak habitat they could destroy.
The county later tried to circumvent those protections, were sued by environmental groups and lost in appellate court.
Today, the county is attempting to amend the General Plan, in order to reduce the oak woodland protection in a way that is “litigation proof.” For this new approach, the “Biological Resources Policies Update” is being proposed to make changes that will “streamline the process” for large development projects. Let them know that Option A– retention- is the only acceptable alternative!
For example, with the General Plan currently, a certain percentage of oak woodlands must be retained on a parcel. The Biological Resources Policies Update would allow for a "two tiered" mitigation approach. Instead of retaining oaks, developers could pay an "in lieu fee" to the county, which would supposedly be used to purchase oak woodland property elsewhere, which property would be part of a conservation area. So they can say they are conserving oak woodlands while, actually, destroying them. Developers could conceivably cut down all the oaks on a property, and "mitigate" that with dollars.
Sadly, these “conservation areas” are often in remote areas that would not be developed anyway. The areas along Highway 50, the areas where we live and love the rural life, the areas that are actually under pressure for oak destruction- all those areas may end up with no oak woodland protection at all.
Again, only one option- Option A- retention- continues actual protection of oak woodlands.
How the process works
The whole amendment process began in March, 2014, when the Board approved a three year contract with the consulting firm Dudek. The Board approved Dudek’s ten decision points and a project timeline on I/13/2015. The Board has so far held three workshops to consider options and recommendations for each of the decision points, and has given direction to staff to prepare proposed policies and implementation measures based on those recommendations. These policies involve the treatment of all “Biological Resources” in the county, including oak woodlands, wetlands, rare plants, and wildlife.
The last public workshop was held on May 18, 2015 and a decision was made at the June 22, 2015 Board meeting to go forward with the Draft EIR. We hope the document will demonstrate an adequate level of protection for the county’s native plants, wildlife, and the habitats they live in. Stay tuned and stay informed!
For further information, and to view the pertinent documents, visit the project website:
You can also contact CNPS member Mary Lou Giles mlgiles18(at)yahoo.com
Chapter board meetings are held to discuss business items concerning the chapter and its activities. Board meetings will be held on the third Tuesdays in January, March, April, May, June, July, September, October and November. Meetings are held at the El Dorado County Office of Education, 6767 Green Valley Road, Placerville. The meeting rooms are in the B complex (opposite the main office behind the flag pole), usually in B-1 or B-3, at 6:30 pm.
Copies of the minutes from board meetings can be requested from the Chapter Secretary or Chapter President.
Finding little information available for forest locations with access for wheelchairs? Here a few suggestions about places worth a visit for those who want to go see wildflowers, birds, or just get a breath of fresh air and enjoy a few hours in a forest. Take a look...