Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 12, 2016

President Obama Designates Five New National Monuments 

The Wilderness Society applauds President Obama for the his designation of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in northern New Mexico, plus four other cultural and natural landmarks across the United States on Monday.

Our newest national monuments include:

  • Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, New Mexico
  • San Juan Islands National Monument, Washington State
  • Harriet Tubman National Monument, Maryland
  • Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument, Ohio
  • Delaware Historic Sites, Delaware

Source: Win for wildlands! President Obama designates five new national monuments |

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 12, 2016

Antelope Valley Wildflower Report 2/5/16

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve SNR reports on February 5, 2016

Many of the poppy plants that germinated earlier in the season were lost to recent freezes, but we are still expecting El Nino rains so it is still to early to determine the extent of the bloom this spring.

Filaree is starting to bloom, some poppy plants are starting to push up their first buds, and other wildflower plants are just starting to germinate.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 12, 2016

 Carrizo Plain: No Flowers Yet 2/11/16

 Carrizo Plain National Monument reports on 2/11/16

There are no wildflowers on Carrizo Plain National Monument at this time.  For the most current update contact the Education Center at 805-475-2131.  The Education Center is open Thursday – Sunday from 9am – 4pm.

Mid March to mid April is the usual time frame for wildflower season on Carrizo, but it is dependent on many factors, including temperature, rainfall and the timing of the two that determine which flowers bloom and their distribution in any given season.  Every year is not spectacular and only a few flowers may prevail in some years.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 12, 2016

Should Pt. Reyes National Seashore Extend Cattle Grazing Leases?

Center for Biological Diversity News Release

Conservation Groups Sue Over Missing Point Reyes Management Plan

National Seashore Needs Plan for How Ranching Fits into Park, Not How Park Fits into Ranching

SAN FRANCISCO— The Resource Renewal Institute, Center for Biological Diversity and Western Watersheds Project filed a lawsuit in federal court today seeking to require the National Park Service to update its General Management Plan and prepare an Environmental Impact Statement, prior to adopting a proposed plan to extend cattle grazing leases in the Point Reyes National Seashore, in Marin County, California.

“The Point Reyes National Seashore is a national treasure,” said Huey D. Johnson, president of Resource Renewal Institute and former California Secretary of Resources. “The Park Service has delayed comprehensive planning and environmental analysis for decades, depriving the public of the right to weigh in on appropriate uses and activities within the park. This lawsuit is a last resort to try to get the Park Service to do its job.”

Under federal laws the National Park Service is obligated to ensure that wildlife and natural resources receive “maximum protection” and are left “unimpaired” for the enjoyment of future generations. The lawsuit asserts that the Park Service is violating these requirements by relying on a badly outdated management plan, adopted in 1980, which fails to address current conditions such as climate change, increasing visitation and recreational use, and threats to wildlife.

The lawsuit cites persistent drought and conflicts between cattle and native wildlife, particularly tule elk, among significant threats to park resources. Tule elk, once believed to be extinct, were successfully reestablished at the Seashore and exist in no other national park.

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 11, 2016

Mt. Tam Calypso Orchids Beginning To Boom 2/11/16

The Marin County CNPS Facebook page reports that on Mt. Tamalpais on 2/11/16

Found a few Calypso Orchids blooming on a Laurel Dell FR, just above Potrero picnic area. One on Kent trail too. Eastwood Manzanitas getting going, along with a few Tamalpais Manzanitas.

See photos and other reports at : Marin Native Plants

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 11, 2016

Henry Coe Wildflower Report 2/11/2016

Henry Coe State Park has a new wildflower bloom update for 2/11/2016 at the Pine Ridge Association website.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 11, 2016

Death Valley Wildflower Video

See the video “Death Valley Exposed: Wildflowers – February 2016” on YouTube at

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 11, 2016

Anza-Borrego Desert Wildflowers 2/10/16

Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association reports

February 10, 2016 Fish Creek Wash

several Orcutt’s Woody Aster are blooming in Fish Creek Wash near the Anticline.  The photo below shows a plant that reportedly has been growing in the rock face there since the 1990’s.  Isolated Salton Milkvetch (Astragalus )were also found in bloom and with seedpods in other places in Fish Creek wash.

February 9, 2016 Ocotillo Wells

“Just outside the park, Ocotillo wells, from Borrego, just before the sign Main street (right). A small patch of land got a lot of rain, we’ve been following it for a while and found a lot of interesting plants there.”

February 7, 2016 Pinyon Wash-Harper Flats   View hike details here

On this hike a couple of first bloomers for us this season. Desert apricot, Prunus fremontii Fish-hook cactus, Mammillaria dioica Coulter’s lyrepod, Lyrocarpa coulteri Desert lotus, Acmispon rigidus.   We seem to have missed the abundant bloom of the Spiny Senna, Senna Armata. We hiked clockwise…. Some germination on our way in, wow what is this wash green, so many big happy plants. But on Harper Flat almost no germination, probably been too cold. On our way back Pinyon Wash, no happy plants here (yet).

February 7, 2016 Font’s Bowl

The hike starts in the wide San Felipe wash, Carla had 2 plants on her list, so she was worried. Soon we added Brassica, not what we wanted and we got frustrated as hundreds, thousands showed up, most still tiny. As we entered the wash we wanted to hike up, more and more plants showed up and a lone Xylorhiza orcuttii, not the best, but it had some kind of bloom.

A winding wash, easy to hike, the last stretch some rocks and a good cluster of Orcutt’s woody-aster, Xylorhiza orcuttii, followed by probably Rush milkweed, Asclepias subulata (about 10). Up to the bowl, wow a place to visit again, plenty of germination and no Brassica. Going down turned out pretty easy in the soft sand, once in the wash, still narrow but easy to hike. Eventually turning in wide “road” wash, back to the car. On the way back in the soft sand again interesting germination. We decided to get adventurous and drive further into the Borrego Sink Wash back to town. Here we found a couple of not so common, Common desert thorn, Lycium brevipes var. brevipes, happy green.

See photos and older reports at  Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 11, 2016

Fresno Blossom Trail Update 2/9/16

Fresno Blossom Trail  reports

February 9, 2016 – Buds have been spotted on the trees, should see blooms on the trail in a couple weeks (weather permitting).

February 5, 2016 – Thanks to the Reedley Airport for hosting a wonderful kick-off to the 28th Annual Blossom Trail! Blooms are coming soon – stay tuned!


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 11, 2016

Big Bend Wildflower Update 2/10/16

DesertUSA has a report from Big Bend National Park‬:

As temperatures begin to warm into Spring, cactus blooms can be seen throughout the Park. These multi-stemmed Warnock cactus buds should bloom soon, a great hint of the spring to come!

Source: Desert Wildflower Reports for Texas – DesertUSA

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 11, 2016

Death Valley National Park 2/10/16

Death Valley National Park has the following new wildflower update:

The bloom is still basically localized, fantastic in the southeastern part of the park but just beginning in other locations. Badwater Road is still the place to go to, with the fields getting bigger the farther south that you travel. If you do not have the time to travel to the southern end of the Badwater Road, there is a wonderful diversity of flower species on the alluvial fans north of Badwater, from about Mile Marker 12 on the Badwater Road to Badwater. The first mile or two of Artist’s Drive is also quite nice.

More flowers are popping up every week on Highway 190. We’re getting some nice patches of color between Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells. The Golden Evening Primrose (Camissonia brevipes) and Notchleaf Phacelia (Phacelia crenulata) are looking pretty between Furnace Creek and Zabriskie Point. If you have the proper vehicle to access some of our backcountry roads, Warm Springs Canyon is the hands down winner. There is also some nice Sand Verbena (Abronia villosa) at the Ibex Dunes. For hikers, I would recommend the canyons in the southern Black Mountains or the Owlsheads for the best selection of blooms.

What is most exciting to me this spring is not necessarily the number of flowers we have blooming early, or the vast number of tiny plants filling in behind them. It is the way some of the plants, that have not yet bloomed or are just beginning to bloom, are super sized. Jack-in-the-Beanstalk stems of Desert Gold (Geraea canescens). Basal rosettes of Gravel Ghost (Atrichoserus platyphylla) that are more than a foot in diameter. Notchleaf Phacelia standing nearly three feet high. Desert Five-Spot (Eremalche rotundifolia) plants with three dozen buds on just one plant. It’s mind-boggling.

See photos and more wildflower posts on Death Valley at Death Valley National Park

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 11, 2016

How Climate Change Alters New England’s Forests

ScienceDaily reports on how climate change is changing the composition of New England Forests

Forest soils across New England will store fewer nutrients and metals — some beneficial, some harmful — as climate change prompts maples and other deciduous trees to replace the region’s iconic evergreen conifers, a new study finds.

Read full report at Climate change prompts makeover of New England’s forests, study finds — ScienceDaily

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 10, 2016

Wolf Killing Continues in Idaho at Clearwater Nat. Forest

New Release Defenders of Wildlife | Protecting Native Animals and Their Habitats

Officials persist in killing wolves in Idaho’s Clearwater National Forest

WASHINGTON – Defenders is demanding an immediate and indefinite stop to Wildlife Services’ killing of wolves and other top predators in national forests in Idaho to inflate game populations.

In response to confirmation that Idaho officials are working with Wildlife Services on an aerial gunning operation to kill wolves in the Clearwater National Forest, Defenders is submitting a petition to U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Secretary Vilsack. Defenders is requesting Vilsack issue a Secretarial Order prohibiting Wildlife Services from controlling native predators to increase game populations and demanding that the Forest Service, responsible for safeguarding America’s national forests, exercise its jurisdiction to prevent wolf killing.

Suzanne Stone, Defenders of Wildlife Northwest Representative, issued the following statement:

“Killing wolves in the Lolo District of the Clearwater National Forest is a decision based almost entirely on Idaho’s extreme anti-wolf politics and not sound science. Aerial gunning of wolves is an expensive waste of precious taxpayer dollars.

“Killing wolves isn’t going to bring back the elk, and it doesn’t address the real issues causing the decline. Scientists point to a significant change in habitat conditions in the Clearwater National Forest – due to invasive species and fire suppression — causing elk populations to drop naturally. Killing wolves is simply a scapegoat for these much bigger issues.” info, including free-use photos.

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.orgOfficials persist in killing wolves in Idaho’s Clearwater National Forest

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 9, 2016

Best Death Valley Wildflower Locations

The The Times has an article on the best places to see Wildflowers right now in Death Valley. The include

  • Badwater Road
  • Artists Drive
  • Hells Gate
  • Salt Creek

Read article and see photos at Best places to see wildflowers — right now! — in Death Valley National Park – LA Times

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 9, 2016

Big Basin Wildflower Report 2/4/16

DesertUSA posted on Feb. 9 for Big Basin

Feb 4 2016 Texas Parks and Wildlife‬ Reports: Spotted last week – first bluebonnets of the year! These were spotted near the Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park and are Big Bend bluebonnets. These bluebonnets are typically found in alluvial areas (near creek and river areas). A beautiful part of the landscape!

See photo and older reports:

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 9, 2016

Death Valley Wildflower Update 2/6/16

DesertUSA has just posted a wildflower report from a flying visit to Death Valley on 2/6/15

One thing most people seem to neglect in reporting wildflowers is mention of places where they DIDN’T see anything. This is also useful information. We didn’t see any blooms of note crossing Panamint Valley. There was a little desert gold getting going as you head up the east side around 2k elevation, but not extensive yet – maybe in another week. We took a brief look half a mile down the road to Trona – nothing yet. Basically nothing in Darwin Canyon. Nothing much coming down into DV from Towne Pass either, except an isolated patch by Emigrant Campground.

Badwater area and south is still very much the place – starting around Natural Bridge turnoff, things get good. The desert gold photographed the best, but some of the fans around Badwater were covered in in primroses, with purple phacelia making a showing as well. We went as far as the Copper Canyon fan, which was awesome.

If one didn’t want to head down to Badwater for some reason, there’s also a lot of desert gold between Furnace Creek and Salt Creek, and along the Beatty cutoff.

See photos at Death Valley Wildflower Report – DesertUSA



Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 9, 2016

Best Southern California Plant Checklists

The Kern Chapter of the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) has  a great list with links to plant checklists for many Southern California at Checklists – Kern CNPS.

This link along with many other links to plant lists can be found at on Natural History Wanderings in the Wildflower section at Best California Plant Lists.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 8, 2016

64 Year Old Albatross Has A New Chick

Wisdom the oldest known Laysan Albatross has just hatched another chick. This one is Number 35. Read more at Oldest Tagged Albatross Wisdom To Be A Mom Again | Audubon

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 8, 2016

Slaughter Of Cyprus Song Birds

Nature reports on the continued killing of songbirds on Cyprus. They report

Songbirds are a culinary delicacy in Cyprus — but catching and eating them is illegal. Even so, the practice is on the rise and could be threatening rare species.

Read story at  Slaughter of the song birds : Nature News & Comment

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 7, 2016

How eBird Helps Create Migration Maps

The New York Times reported on how Cornell University Ornithologists use the data collected from the eBird citizen science project to more accurately map bird migration patterns.

With a flood of amateur data, researchers create an animated map showing where birds go once they leave our backyards, and how they travel on the way back.

Read article at  Bird Watchers Help Science Fill Gaps in the Migratory Story – The New York Times

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 6, 2016

Pikas May Be Able Survive Climate Change

Conservation Magazine reports

You heard it here first: American pikas are the most adorable of all the lagomorphs. These rabbit relatives live in relatively cold places and prefer rocky mountainsides, which offer plenty of nooks and crannies to escape from the raptors that would make a quick meal out of them. Because they have a fairly low tolerance for heat, pikas have often been thought of as sentinel species when it comes to climate change. If pikas can’t do well in a certain ecosystem, that ecosystem is probably too warm overall. In some of the warmer parts of their native range, they’re already extirpated. But these hardy creatures just might have a few tricks up their sleeves, according to a new study. In some places they very well may go locally extinct, but 100 years from now we can still expect some pika to cling to existence.

Read full story at  Pikas have some fight in them yet – Conservation

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 5, 2016

Death Valley Wildflower Photos 2/5/16

The DeserttUSA Death Valley has new photos from the wildflower bloom in Death Valley at Death Valley Wildflower Report.

Link and date have been corrected.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 5, 2016

Lawsuit Challenges Wildlife Services’ Authority to Kill Wolves

Center for Biological Diversity New Release

Lawsuit Challenges Wildlife Services’ Authority to Kill Wolves in Oregon

PORTLAND, Ore.— Conservation groups filed a lawsuit today challenging the authority of the federal wildlife-killing program  Wildlife Services to kill any of the approximately 81 remaining gray wolves in Oregon. The legal challenge, filed by the Western Environmental Law Center on behalf of four conservation groups, with Cascadia Wildlands representing itself, comes weeks after a federal court ruled that Wildlife Services’ controversial wolf-killing program in Washington is illegal.

The groups contend that Wildlife Services failed to explain why killing wolves on behalf of livestock interests should replace common-sense, proactive and nonlethal alternatives such as those reflected in the Oregon Gray Wolf Management Plan. The National Environmental Policy Act requires this analysis and public disclosure. In Oregon and Washington, Wildlife Services completed vague plans to target wolves for livestock depredations but did not explain why nonlethal alternatives would be inadequate.

“Federal law requires Wildlife Services to conduct a full and fair evaluation of the ecological impacts of its wolf-killing program in Oregon, and it failed to do so,” said John Mellgren, the Western Environmental Law Center attorney arguing the case. “In addition to protecting gray wolves from being killed, our recent victory in Washington will help to shed light on this secretive federal program, and we hope to continue that process in Oregon.”

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 4, 2016

Marin County Wildflowers: Phoenix Lake 1/31/16

A comment on John Wall's Mt. Tam Blog reported that the area around Phoenix Lake in Marin County is popping. Milkmaids, hound's tongue, shooting stars, fremont's star lily, and fetid adder's tongue. His blog often mentions wildflower bloom along with excellent photos.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 4, 2016

Great Bear Rainforest Protected

The CBC News reported on the protection of the British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest

The protection of B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest is now assured, after a decade of complex negotiations between the province, First Nations and industry.

Under terms of the agreement announced Monday morning by Premier Christy Clark, 85 per cent (3.1 million hectares) of the forested area of the northern wilderness will be completely — and permanently — protected from industrial logging.

Read full story at  Great Bear Rainforest agreement creates ‘a gift to the world’ – British Columbia – CBC News

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 3, 2016

Death Valley Wildflower Update 2/3/16

Death Valley National Park reports

Big news this week is that it rained .32 inches on Sunday. We got that nice soaker that we needed. It’s gonna be a fantastic year, folks!

It’s pretty great right now. The good news is the Badwater Road is looking good throughout its length, but gets better and better the further south you go. The bad news is that the rain we received Sunday has caused a temporary closure of the Badwater Road south of Badwater. Check with the Visitor Center for updates on this road closure. Look for fields of Desert Gold (Geraea canescens), Brown-eyed Evening Primrose (Camissonia claviformis), and Sand Verbena (Abronia villosa). There are lots of Phacelia, both Notchleaf (Phacelia crenulata) and Caltha-leaved (Phacelia calthifolia), Desert Five-spot Eremalche rotundifolia), Cryptantha, and Golden Evening Primrose (Camissonia brevipes), too. New flowers just starting to show up this week are Gravel Ghost (Atrichoseris platyphylla) and Rock Daisies (Perityle emoryi). Soon there will be entire hillsides of rock daisies, a flower that is doing particularly well this year. If you travel into the canyons or up the alluvial fans you will see even more variety. There are a lot of Mohavea (Mohavea breviflora) coming up. Desert Star (Monoptilon spec.) and Purple Mat (Nama demissum) are other belly flowers you are likely to see if you look closely. Shredding (Camissonia boothii) and Narrow-leaved Evening Primroses (Oenothera fruticosa) can be found in the canyons, as well as Sweetbush (Bebbia juncea), Ground Cherry (Physalis hederaefolia) and Coyote Tobacco (Nicotiana obtusifolia).

Highway 190 is starting to fill in, glowing with Desert Gold. A walk up the washes will reveal other surprises, too. East of the Furnace Creek Visitor Center, look for Golden Evening Primrose and Notchleaf Phacelia.Acton Encelia, Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa), and Turtleback (Psathyrotes ramosissima) can be found in the canyons of both the Funeral and Black Mountains. Bigelow Mimulus (Mimulus bigelovii) is blooming in the Funerals. Mud Canyon is looking pretty colorful. Look for Brown-Eyed Evening Primrose and Desert Gold in the lower part of the canyon, and Notchleaf Phacelia and Golden Evening Primrose in the upper reaches.

It’s getting pretty dense out there. Be mindful of where you step. Don’t crush five flowers to take the perfect picture of just one! Happy flower hunting!

See photos at Wildflower Update 2016 – Death Valley National Park (U.S. National Park Service)

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 3, 2016

2016 Desert Wildflower Outlook 

Photographer Ron Niebrugge posted the following 2016 Wildflower Outlook the end of January for Arizona and Southern California especially Anza-Borrego

Thanks to one of the largest El Nino’s maybe ever, I don’t think the anticipation for a big desert wildflower bloom has been bigger. I have been getting numerous emails asking about conditions so I thought I would share my observations and thoughts.

I have been visiting desert areas like Anza-Borrego since I was a child, and for the last 10 years have spent at least a month every winter in the Anza-Borrego desert.  We have already arrived and spent a number of days camping in Borrego after traveling across the Southern half of Arizona.  I might add, this is at least two weeks earlier then most years, so my point of reference is a bit off.

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 3, 2016

Northern California Salmon Run Down Again

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that as a result of the drought last year’s Salmon Run was again very low.

One of California’s last great salmon runs tallied a perilously low number of surviving offspring in 2015, scientists said Monday, marking a second year of drought-driven problems for the Sacramento River chinook, which loom on the verge of extinction. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service reported that just 3 percent of the run’s juvenile salmon survived their historic migration to sea, again dying in large numbers because the river was simply too shallow and too warm to tolerate.

Read full story at Northern California salmon run devastated, again, by drought – SFGate

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 2, 2016

 Point Reyes Birding Festival Releases Preliminary Schedule

 The Point Reyes Birding & Nature Festival has posted the preliminary schedule for this year’s festival which is April 22 to 24.

See schedule at Festival Program — Point Reyes Birding & Nature Festival

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 2, 2016

40,000 Square Miles For Protected For Endangered Whales

Center for Biological Diversity News Release

Feds Protect Nearly 40,000 Square Miles for Endangered Whales Along East Coast

Designation Will Protect Calving, Foraging Areas of Last 500 Right Whales

WASHINGTON— In response to the efforts of conservation and wildlife protection groups, the National Marine Fisheries Service today protected 39,414 square miles of ocean as critical habitat for North Atlantic right whales. Only about 500 of the critically endangered whales exist today, and without additional protections the species faces a serious risk of extinction.

The Fisheries Service’s new rule protects crucial habitat for right whales, including the whale’s northeast feeding areas in the Gulf of Maine/Georges Bank region and its calving grounds from southern North Carolina to northern Florida. However, the rule does not protect the whale’s twice-yearly migratory routes through the mid-Atlantic.

Read More…

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