CDFW Expands Land Pass Program in 2017-18

Places such as North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve will require a CDFW Lands Pass

By Julie Horenstein and Peter Tira, California Department of Fish and Wildlife

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is expanding its Lands Pass Program to 42 wildlife areas and ecological reserves this fall and winter and will soon require a CDFW lands pass of all visitors 16 or older. Those carrying a current hunting or fishing license are exempt from this new requirement.

CDFW’s Land Pass Program began in 1988 as a way to broaden the funding base beyond hunters and anglers to pay for the management and operation of some of the state’s most popular and frequently visited wildlife areas and ecological reserves. In 2012, the California Legislature directed CDFW to expand the program to more properties as a way for all visitors to contribute to the management of the places they enjoy and appreciate.  A list of the lands pass properties, where the lands passes will be required, plus additional details is available at

A daily lands pass costs $4.32 and an annual lands pass costs $24.33 ($25.10 in 2018). Lands passes can be purchased online at, by phone at (800) 565-1458, and in-person wherever hunting and fishing license are sold (locations at The passes, which are good at any lands pass property, are not sold on site and should be purchased in advance. Though lands passes can be purchased from a smartphone and used immediately, many of CDFW’s wildlife areas and ecological reserves are in remote locations with limited or no cell service or Wi-Fi availability. Signs will be posted notifying visitors of the need for a lands pass and explaining how to obtain them.

Other exemptions from the lands pass requirement include school and organized youth group field trips (including accompanying adults), volunteers while they are working on a lands pass property, and researchers who are carrying a valid letter of permission to conduct research on the property.  Note that CDFW considers school groups to include preschool through graduate school classes, as well as school clubs that provide science or environmental education.

All lands pass revenue will go to managing California’s native species and habitats on CDFW lands. Providing the name of the property you plan to visit is not required during the purchase process, but it is requested.  Providing it assists CDFW with directing funds to that property.  For additional information about the Lands Pass Program, please contact Julie Horenstein at

Manzanita Cider

We’re appreciating native plant recipes this holiday season! The fall issue of the new CNPS magazine, Flora, features a collection of seasonal native plant recipes from Alicia Funk, founder of the Living Wild Project and co-author of Living Wild — Gardening, Cooking and Healing with Native Plants of California. This week, we’re sharing her recipe for manzanita cider, both non-alcoholic and alcoholic!

Manzanita cider is a traditional drink of California, enjoyed by indigenous inhabitants in many parts of the state. Although all species have edible berries, Alicia uses Arctostaphylos viscida, since it is abundant in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada where she lives. The cider is easy to make, high in antioxidants and naturally sweet. Fill a blender with the dry berries and grind on low-medium for about a minute. This is a modern technique to crush the berries and expose the sweet powder, without crushing up the large seeds. Cover the crushed berries with cold water and soak for several hours to overnight. Strain and enjoy cold or hot.


Collect berries in summer.
Makes 1 gallon. Ready to drink in 2 months.


4 quarts manzanita cider (see above for method)
2 pounds raw cane sugar
8-quart pot
1-gallon jug
 for jug
1 packet dry wine yeast
Flip-top bottles
Iodine (for sterilizing)


Pour cider into pot, add the 2 pounds of sugar, and allow to simmer over heat until sugar dissolves.

Let cider cool and use a small amount of iodine to sterilize the jug.

Pour cider into sterilized gallon jug and add yeast.

Seal jug with the airlock and store in a cool location, 65-75 degrees F.

Let the cider bubble for approximately a month. After 
the bubbling subsides, allow it to sit for another week.

Siphon the cider into sanitized bottles, avoiding the 
yeast that has settled on the bottom of the jug.  Seal bottles and allow cider to sit for another 2 weeks or more for added flavor.

Avoid problems with wild plant collection

CNPS generally advises against collecting wild native plants, since toxic species can be misidentified as edible plants and wild collection runs the risk of harming sensitive species and habitats. Growing your own native habitat is a great solution that gives you easy access to an abundance of useful plants.

CNPS Holiday Gift Guide

What to give the plant lover in your life? We’re so glad you asked!

*A CNPS membership…Mt Lassen Chapter at Sutter Buttes - Woody Elliott

is one-size-fits-all, never goes out of style, and lasts all year long. When you give a gift of membership to CNPS, your recipient becomes a member of a wide network of nature and native plant enthusiasts – and best yet, you help contribute to the success of CNPS to protect and promote the native species and landscapes that help make California so special.

The recipient of your gift will receive the full suite of benefits available to all CNPS members, including subscriptions to Fremontia and Flora, discounts on workshops and plant sales, membership to their local CNPS chapter, and a letter that informs them of your generosity. Click here to give the gift of CNPS by December 14 to ensure delivery of your acknowledgement by December 23.

*A lush, photo-rich volume of California’s beautiful landscapes!

California’s Botanical Landscapes: A Pictorial View of the State’s Vegetation provides a vivid exploration of the Golden State’s Native Vegetation. It is a must-have book for anyone interested in the botanical diversity of California: botanists, ecologists, environmental scientists, natural historians, and plant lovers of all kinds. With over 600 inspiring photographs as well as in-depth, naturalist prose written for the public, the work explores California through 14 ecoregions with a look at the important plant communities found within each.

*For the proud gardener:

Let them tell everyone, “Native plants live here!” Encourage other gardeners to go native and inform them where they can find helpful information to do so! Available in both English and Spanish, and in two sizes (6.75″ x 9″ or 9”x 12”), this full-color aluminum sign can be posted on a wall or a post and is a must for any Californian native garden.

*For the botanical professional, academic, or student:

Register your favorite conservation professional or native plant nerd for the CNPS 2018 Conservation Conference, a pre-conference workshop, or field trip! The conference is Feb. 1-3 in Los Angeles, with the pre-conference workshops taking place Jan. 30-31. With over 20 technical conference sessions, 21 workshops in interests ranging from photography, gardening, legislation and GIS, quickly-filling field trips in the L.A. basin, and a lively banquet –plus art, music, auctions, student events, and contests– there is something offered for everyone, no matter what their botanical level or interest.

*For the adventurous cook or someone who wants to learn how to heal with California’s native plants…

Living Wild: Gardening, Cooking, and Healing with Native Plants of California, 2nd Edition by Alicia Funk & Karin Kaufman is an essential guide to the uses of over 100 native plant species. The expanded 2ND edition offers a deep awareness of the landscape with advice on cultivating, harvesting, and preparing wild food cuisine and herbal medicine recipes. We heard recently that the Madrone “Beyond Cranberry” Sauce recipe in particular was a big hit at holiday dinners, and we’re sure the Elderflower Champagne would help usher in anyone’s new year in style.

*For the budding botanist or nature lover:

The CNPS Nature Journaling Kit is perfect for children of all ages! Featuring a blank nature journal, recycled ruler, hand lens, and easy carry sling pack, and designed to be the perfect companion to the CNPS Children’s Curriculum, this gift can inspire children young and old to start observing and recording the world around them.

*Because you can never have too many hats:

The CNPS Logo Hat: look smart, and protect your face from the sun, all while representing the preeminent native plant conservation organization in California! Neutral khaki color with full colored embroidery and adjustable buckle closure.


Northern California Botanist Certification Exam

Caulanthus californicus photographed by Greg Suba, CNPS Conservation Director

The first-ever Botanist Certification Exam at a Northern California venue is scheduled for October 30th, 2017, at the Blue Oak Ranch Reserve (BORR) near San Jose, CA. While CNPS has already put on two exams in Southern California, one in Ojai and one at the Cal State Fullerton Arboretum, an exam had yet to happen up north! We are very excited to hold the event at BORR, one of the UC Berkeley-managed lands in the wonderful UC Reserve system.

Amidst such treasured habitats as blue oak woodland, valley oak woodland, and native perennial grasslands, botanists from all over Northern California will come together to showcase their abilities during the certification exam. The test consists of written, keying, and sight identification portions in order to set a high standard of excellence in the profession. The Board of Certification, which is currently administering the certification, recommends that botanists have at least five years experience in the botanical consulting field, in the case of the Field Botanist certification level, and eight years of experience, in the case of the Consulting Botanist certification level, before considering taking the exam.

Wondering why the Botanist Certification is so important? Check out this wonderful article on the CNPS Blog.

If you are interested to register for the exam, please visit the Botanist Certification website or contact Catherine Curley, Assistant Botanist for the Rare Plant Program, at, with questions.

CNPS Garden Ambassadors

Are you passionate about California native gardening?  Ready to inspire others?  Become a CNPS Garden Ambassador!

CNPS Garden Ambassadors are a community of individuals who are willing to share their enthusiasm, experience, and knowledge to demonstrate the beauty and possibilities of California native plant gardens.  As an ambassador, you will help kick-start a movement in California native landscaping, and inspire others to “restore nature one garden at a time.”  You will make a difference in your community, and receive lots of ambassador rewards and recognition too!

There are many ambassador activities for you to choose from depending on your interests and experience.  Here are a few ways you can be involved:

  • Share photographs of your California native garden.
  • Host garden talks/visitor events in your garden.
  • Contribute to CNPS Garden Ambassador social media.
  • Participate in CNPS Garden Tours and events.
  • Volunteer at retail nurseries to educate customers about California native plants.
  • Teach workshops on California native gardening.

To acknowledge and honor all of your enthusiasm and dedication, here are a few fun rewards you will receive!

  • CNPS Membership Discount
  • Annual Nursery and CNPS Store Discount
  • CNPS Garden Ambassador of the Month recognition
  • Garden Ambassador Appreciation Events
  • Profile featured on the Garden Ambassador webpage
  • Free CNPS Natives Live Here sign
  • Brochure about your garden
  • Photography of your landscape
  • Garden Ambassador name tag, and more!


Apply for the Garden Ambassador program today!  Click here to complete the online questionnaire:


Legislation update: #ReformOHV and SB249

California state vehicle recreation area

Uncontrolled riding yields a scarred landscape at a California State vehicle recreation area. Photo/Friends of Tesla Park

SB 249 is a bill introduced by Senator Ben Allen (Santa Monica) to repair, reduce and prevent Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) damage to California’s natural and cultural resources. (See the most recent July –September 2017 CNPS Bulletin for a complete report on SB 249.)

Following much debate and many amendments, SB 249 is nearing the end of the legislative process. It has passed out of Senate committees and the Senate floor and the Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee. It is now pending in the Assembly Appropriations Committee prior to consideration of the full Assembly.

SB 249 focuses on three key areas for improvement:

Greater Environmental Protection – SB 249 improves transparency and clarifies commonsense steps to protect sensitive cultural and natural resources. The science of conservation continuously changes and managing OHV recreation needs to change with it.

Better Value for Our Dollars – The State Parks OHV Program enjoys a substantial 100% surplus ($117.5M in 2017/18) and yet illegal riding and resource damage continues to be a serious problem.  The State needs to do a better job enforcing laws and protecting resources on state, federal and private lands with the funding they have available.

Accountable Management – SB 249 clarifies State Parks organization and management to improve efficiency and transparency.

How You Can Help

SB 249 continues to face considerable resistance from opposition user groups and from the Department of Parks and Recreation. Additional amendments that weaken the legislation are a real possibility. Please make a phone call to your local Assembly member and ask him or her to support SB 249. Tell them you are a resident in their District and that the bill is needed to reform OHV recreation – protecting natural resources and recreational opportunities of all kinds – it is not a bill to destroy or stop legal riding. It is a win-win for California.

Important Plant Areas Mapping

Screenshot of San Joaquin Valley IPA GIS Ma

By Greg Suba, CNPS Conservation Director

For more than 50 years, CNPS has specialized in assembling the most up-to-date information on botanical resources in California and making this information publicly available. The CNPS online Inventory of Rare, Threatened, and Endangered Plants of California (RPI) and the Manual of California Vegetation online database (MCV) are the most recent examples of the ways in which CNPS provides verifiable botanical data for California. This information is used every day in local, regional, and statewide planning for conservation and development around the state.

A Sense of Urgency

Over the last 10 years, the pace and scale of conservation planning in California has increased rapidly, due in part to an urgency to address climate change. It is also a result of California’s ability to couple advances in online mapping technology with opportunities to spend advanced mitigation funding. This combination allows broad stakeholder participation in a process to plan and establish an ecologically sound conservation lands network across California in real time. While the fundamental requirement of sound data as the basis for good planning hasn’t changed, today’s increased pace and scale of conservation planning requires an immediate need for more of it.

Earlier this year, CNPS began an initiative to gather unpublished information from botanical experts to supplement native plant data from the RPI, MCV, and other publicly available sources.

The goal of this work, the CNPS Important Plant Areas (IPA) initiative, is to preserve as much of California’s rich native botanical diversity as possible by assembling as complete a picture of botanical information as possible, and incorporating it into conservation decision-making processes across the state.

To generate an IPA Map, we have established a two-day workshop format. Each workshop brings together regional botanical experts to share and map their on-the-ground botanical knowledge. We then add their data to existing, publicly available sources, in order to generate as current and complete a snapshot of important plant information as possible, region by region, for use in planning.

For each study area, an IPA Map will identify, describe, and map plant areas of highest concern – rare species, locations of usual plant diversity, and rare habitat – and produce publicly available GIS maps, narrative, and data sets to help inform land and resource management decisions. The end product of our IPA Initiative will produce a GIS-based plant conservation decision-making tool for all of California that will aid in responsible planning while helping educate the public as to what is at stake.

Making Progress

Today we are in the data gathering stage. The CNPS Conservation, Rare Plant, and Vegetation Programs have begun planning and hosting a series of IPA Mapping Workshops. We held our first workshop in late February 2017, focusing on the southern San Joaquin Valley, and earlier this summer, we completed data gathering for part of the Modoc Plateau. Current funding will allow us to conduct workshops for northern San Joaquin Valley, the North Coast, and interior Northern California by the end of the year.

The resulting maps and botanical data of each region will be made available to local, state, and federal land use and management agencies and decision-makers. CNPS staff and volunteers can actively pursue the incorporation of IPAs into local, state, and federal land-use and resource management plans.

The CNPS IPA Initiative is proactive conservation. We will identify and protect the most important plant habitats as far in advance of the bulldozers, rather than fighting plans and projects after certification and approvals have been completed.