Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 21, 2018

Ferguson Fire Continues Grow Near Yosemite 7/21/18

The S. F. Chronicle has an update on the Ferguson Fire. Evacuations continue. Highway 140 remains closed west of Yosemite. Two more firefighters injured.

Ferguson Fire swelled to 27,129 acres by early Saturday — growing by more than 4,000 acres since Friday — and was still only 7 percent contained, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Read full story at 2 more firefighters injured as Ferguson Fire continues to grow – SFGate

Earlier today the SF Chronicle reported the road to Glacier Pt. was closed due to fire operations. 

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 21, 2018

Henry Coe Wildflower Update 7/21/18

Henry Coe State Park has a new wildflower bloom report  for July 21, 2018 at the Pine Ridge Association website with photos and a list of flowers now in bloom at: Henry W. Coe – Wildflower Guide.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 21, 2018

Carson Pass Wildflowers 7/18/18

submitted by Kathi Dowdakin

We spent a couple of days around the Carson Pass area, on July 17 and 18.  While it is definitely drier than recent years, there are still many flowers to be found at every seep and meadow.  Drier means fewer mosquitoes, which is always a plus.
   Along the roadway into Woods Lake there’s a large Willow-covered meadow, with 2 ft. high Paintbrush everywhere.  If you wander out into the meadow, there’s a 6 ft. tall Delphinium, in the darkest of purples.  The Monkshood, however, is the lightest blue I’ve ever seen.  There are tall stalks of the Sierra Lily, most of the flowers are still quite fresh, and some stalks still have unopened buds.
   Further in toward the picnic grounds, the Lewis’s pink monkeyflower is fat, and the Spiraea is flamboyant.  Woods Lake is quite full, and the waterfall flowing into it is still running.  A gorgeous spot for a shady picnic or a splash in the water, with traces of last winter’s snow high above you.
 The trail from the Carson Pass Information Station to Lake Winnemucca is about 2.5 miles long, with 600 ft. of elevation gain.  The trail is quite popular, especially this time of year when the large seep 2 miles in is in rampant bloom.  Along the way, the trail passes through a Lodgepole Pine forest, currently with a daisy understory.  An Erigeron of some sort, I think.  The Corn Lilies are still very fresh here, and the Monument Plants/Frasera are just starting to open their unusual flowers.  Butterflies of many varieties can be seen, and huge Bumblebees pull some of the smaller flowers to the ground in their efforts to find nectar.
   Our flower list for the hike stands at 74, not including any of the trees, sedges, and grasses (which are throwing copious amounts of pollen around on a warm afternoon).  The Phlox is the only plant that is completely past peak.  The Blue Flag Iris by Frog Lake (one mile in) is done, but there are more Iris in the large seep.  The same is true of the Lupines.  The many members of the Carrot Family make for some great photo compositions.
   A couple of new-to-us plants:  Artemisia norvegica with a strange flower shape; and a green Bog Orchid, Platanthera sparsiflora. It’s always a treat to discover something new.   One of our favorites to find is the Elephant’s Head, and there are two species of them out there to see.  We love showing these to people who have never seen them before, and can’t believe there’s a flower that looks so much like an elephant!  Big smiles, laughter – this is definitely a terrific hike.  Go soon to catch the show.  Midweek is not as crowded as the weekends can be.
Photos by Kathi Dowdakin

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Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 21, 2018

Drilling In Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Will Get Fast Review

The Washington Post reports on the Interior Department’s plan to rush through approval for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge raising concerns about the protection of this environmentally fragile are.

The Interior Department has commissioned an expedited environmental review of the impact of leasing part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil and gas drilling, according to a document released under the Freedom of Information Act.

Some former Interior officials, along with several environmentalists, questioned whether the federal government could conduct an adequate environmental-impact statement under such tight time constraints.

Read full article Drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to get fast review – The Washington Post

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 20, 2018

How You Can Help Birds

Bird Studies Canada writes about four types of activities we can do to help birds this summer

  1. Watch the birds
  2. Garden for birds
  3. Keep birds healthy
  4. Keep birds safe

Learn what you can do to help birds at Four Ways you can Help Birds This Summer


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 19, 2018

Highway 1 Has Reopened

California Highway One also known as the Pacific Coast Highway reopened yesterday.  You can now drive straight through the Big Sur area. Read more about the reopening at the Mercury News Highway 1 to open Wednesday morning, after Big Sur’s biggest landslide

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 19, 2018

Prickles, Thorns and Spines

In a recent article, Rosa macrophylla | Botany Photo of the Day, Botany Photo of the day explains

the difference between prickles, thorns, and spines. Thorns are modified stems, while spines are often modified leaves or stipules. Both of these tend to be quite long and sharp. Prickles however, are outgrowths from the epidermis of the stem tissue; all roses have prickles.


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 18, 2018

Fire Near Yosemite Now 17,319 Acres 7/18/18

The Ferguson fire west of Yosemite is now over 17,000 acres with only 5 percent containment. Highway 140 remains closed. Read details at  Fire near Yosemite burns to 17,319 acres, two firefighters injured – SFGate

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 18, 2018

Astronomers Discover 12 New Moons Around Jupiter

NPR reports

More than 400 years after Galileo Galilei discovered the first of Jupiter’s moons, astronomers have found a dozen more — including one they’ve dubbed “oddball” — orbiting the planet. That brings the total number of Jovian moons to 79.

Read full story at Astronomers Discover 12 New Moons Around Jupiter : NPR

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 17, 2018

Fire Near Yosemite Grows to 12,525 Acres

The LA Times reports on the growing Ferguson Fire including evacuations, risks of expansion due to poor weather for fire fighting and consequences to forest

Amid high temperatures, low humidity and light winds, the Ferguson fire has scorched 12,525 acres south of Highway 140 west of the park and was 5% contained, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

Read full story New evacuations ordered as fire raging near Yosemite National Park grows to 12,525 acres

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 17, 2018

Sonora Pass Wildflowers 7/16/18

We drove home over Sonora Pass. Smoke was starting to come in but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the wildflowers at the top of the pass. The area above 9300 feet and right near the pass had very good wildflowers. Some nice displays and lots of species. In bloom around the pass were Leichtlin’s Mariposa Tulip, Sulphur Buckwheat, Paintbrush, Mule’s Ear, Scarlet Gilia, three species of lupine, Coyote-Mint, Arnica, Western Blue Flax, Western Columbine, Western Wallflower,  and Pincushion Plant. Just west of the pass are Corn Lily,  Western Bistort, Stickweed, Cinquefoil, and a small lupine.

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Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 17, 2018

Eastern Sierra Wildflower Photos

Photos from my recent trip to the Eastern Sierra. All taken with an iPhone. At a later date I will post photos from other cameras after processing them, but wanted to get some recent ones up.

See posts from trip at and

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Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 17, 2018

California Wildflower Reports Recent Updates 7/15/18

California Wildflower Report  has recent posts with photos from

  • Carson Pass
  • Markleville
  • Heart lake trail near Mammoth lakes
  • Twenty Lakes Basin trail and in the Saddlebag Lake area in Mono County
Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 17, 2018

How Does a Crow Win Against a Raven?

CornellLab of Ornithology reports

How Does a Crow Win Against a Raven? With a Little Help From Its Friends

Crows may be smaller than Common Ravens, but when they join forces, they can stand up to their larger cousin. Over the years, eBirders have noted crows mobbing ravens more than 2,000 times, and researchers used that data to explore the birds’ rivalry. They discovered that crow mobs can be effective at driving away ravens. The crows’ social nature may work in their favor against the more solitary raven.

Read full story at Crows Have A Mob Mentality Towards Ravens


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 17, 2018

Are Birders Becoming Younger, More Diverse & Urban?

BirdWatching Magazine reports there are many new younger birders who are urban and more diverse.

Audubon’s market research has identified 9 million people between the ages of 18 and 35 “who share that blend of an interest in birds and environmental activism. Twenty-five percent are Hispanic, 18 percent are African-American and 10 percent are Asian-American.

Read article at The new faces of birding: Young, urban, more diverse – BirdWatching

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 16, 2018

Eastern Sierra Wildflowers

Highlights of what I have seen in the Eastern Sierra Nevada this past week.

7/10 Rock Creek Trail – Trail was very flowery but meadows were dryish. Shooting stars were mostly done and Red Heather was all past. Many species in bloom We saw a number of Mourning Cloaks in one of the meadows around willows.  Also seen were swallowtails, blues and a painted lady? White-crowned sparrows were often seen along the trail. Clark’s Nutcrackers were seen and heard. Parking lot can fill on weekends. Get there early.

7/12 McGee Creek Trail. Area was dry. Some flowers are past. We hiked the trail that was closer to the creek for the first time. It was somewhat more flowery than the parallel trails further from the creek. This was the first time we overcast clouds created good photo light. Right nest to the creek in a number of places was an abundant Arnica species.

Went to Smokey the Bear Flat  where there were about eight species in bloom. Lots of Mono Lake Lupine/Lupinus duranii . Evening Primrose was in bud or past. 

7/13 HIghway 120 East of Yosemite between Highway 395 and the eastern park entrance. A number of roadside stops that included Evening Primrose, Blazing Star and Prickly Poppy as well as wet seeps that included Monkeyflowers, White-rein Orchids, Great Polemonium, Paintbrush, Coyote Mint and more.  

Walking cross the dam at Ellery Lake we found many Columbines – mainly Sierra and Hybrids. We did find a few White Heather flowers though most were finished and only one group of four Red Heather flowers. 

The short Nunatuk nature trail. Most notable were the Dana Lupine/Lupinus danaus. At both Ellery and Nunatak there was spiraea in bloom. Labrador Tea at both places was mostly gone over.

On the way back we spotted a field with Corn Lilies in bloom next to the western part of Ellery Lake below the road. There were also Monkshood and a lot of Swamp Onions and Iris as well.

7/14/18 Bodie Hills, Two rabbits and lots of little chipmunks running across the road on Aurora Canyon Road. Most flowers were on Geiger Grade Road (Bodie Masonic Road on Google maps). Top flowers were White Lupine, Paintbrush, Rabbitbrush and Sulphur Buckwheat. Also one section had a lot of roses and there were several road side strips of purple lupine. Iris were all past. There were thousands of irises; it must be spectacular earlier in the spring. Lots of butterflies, especially Boisduval’s Blues and Great Basin Nymphs. The rabbitbrush was the main attraction for the butterflies, and other insects. Saw four Sooty Grouse, not far off, on a flowery hillside.

7/15/18 Mono Lake County Park Birding field trip with National Forest Ranger.  Best birds were a Lazuli Bunting, 5 Kestrels, and a Peregrine. Many California Gulls; at least 200.  No Phalaropes.  A total of 21 species were seen. Next to the board walk we saw Stream orchids and Green Rein Orchids.

Driving on 120 East of 395. After the Jefferey Pine forest we found the usual fields with many small pink monkey flowers. Also Mono Lake lupines, tiny buckwheats and a scattering of a yellow composite. Other good displays at the pass were very poor this year.

In mid afternoon smoke started coming in from the Ferguson Fire that is in the west side of Yosemite near Hite Cove in Mariposa County

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 16, 2018

Many Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions Preventable

ScienceDaily reports

A new study has found that Ontario could save millions by implementing simple measures to help prevent vehicle accidents involving wildlife.

Read story at Many wildlife-vehicle collisions preventable — ScienceDaily to learn how a few, cost-effective strategies could decrease the number oca accidents and actually save millions of dollars in damage and injury both to humans and animals.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 15, 2018

Wildflowers Around California 7/13/18

Two Facebook pages with recent wildflower photos and reports:

Marin CNPS has a new posts and photos

  • Bull Point at Pt. Reyes
  • Tomales and back along Hwy 1.

California Wildflower Report

  • Wildflowers on Twenty Lakes Basin trail and in the Saddlebag Lake area in Mono County are showing off big time right now! Photo from July 11
Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 15, 2018

Fire West Of Yosemite Updates 7/15/18

Wildfire in the Hite Cove Area outside of Yosemite has quadrupled in size, highway 140 is closed going into Yosemite and evacuations have been ordered.  Smoke has started to spread as far as the Eastern Sierra around Lee Vining.

Read more in the San Francisco Chronicle Deadly Yosemite fire grows to 4,310 acres, evacuations ordered – SFGate and Fresno Bee Evacuations remain in place for 4,000 acre Ferguson Fire, roads closed west of Yosemite

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 15, 2018

Bumblebees Thrive In the City But Struggle On The Farm

The New York Times reports

In the past 80 years, expanding urban areas in England have been found to host more species and lose fewer pollinators than agricultural areas. City parks and gardens provide a variety of flowers and foraging opportunities for bees throughout the season. Most agricultural fields offer bees only one type of flower, for a limited time. Some biologists have suggested that cities may provide refuge for bees.

Read full story at Bumblebees Thrive in the City but Struggle on the Farm – The New York Times

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 14, 2018

Peregrine Falcon I.D. Tips

The Golden Gate Parks Conservancy has an article on Peregrine Falcons discussing their recovery from near extinction and how to identify them.

Read article at  Did You Know: Peregrine Identification Tips

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 13, 2018

Henry Coe Wildflower Update 7/13/18

Henry Coe State Park has a new wildflower bloom report  for July 13, 2018 at the Pine Ridge Association website with photos and a list of flowers now in bloom at: Henry W. Coe – Wildflower Guide.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 13, 2018

Modini Mayacamas Wildflowers 7/13/18

Botanical Wanderings – California Public Group | Facebook has 19 new photos for Modini Mayacamas in n.e. Sonoma County

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 13, 2018

Mt. Rainier Wildflowers 7/13/2018

Mt. Rainier National Park reports

Currently Blooming

What’s your favorite: glacier lily or avalanche lily? (Or both!) Currently, white avalanche lilies are blooming on the slopes above the Paradise Valley Road, while yellow glacier lilies are carpeting the valley floor.

Please Note: As snow melts away, it may be tempting to skirt remaining patches of snow that are covering trails. However, by going off trail you are walking on and damaging the wildflowers that you may be coming to see! It is better to stay on trail even if that means crossing snow, particularly in the high-visitation meadows around Paradise and Sunrise.

See new reports for Trail of Shadows, Longmire and Paradise and other wildflower areas and 13 photos at 

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 13, 2018

Non-native Moths Impacting Lake Tahoe Aspen Foliage

YubaNet posted a news article from the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources that reported

Aspen trees have been defoliated due to an influx of invasive white satin moths (Leucoma salicis). The white satin moth is a non-native defoliator of aspen, cottonwoods, willows and other deciduous species. Continued defoliation can threaten aspen stands, which provide important habitat for a variety of native species.

Read full article at  Non-native satin moths impacting aspen foliage in Lake Tahoe | YubaNet

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 12, 2018

Planting Trees Can Combat CO2 and Particulates

The Regional Park Botanic Garden Newsletter has an article on how planting trees can have a positive impact on CO2 and dust

As planetary weather patterns shift, green patterns around the globe are also shifting, but homeowners and gardeners can make meaningful changes to combat local pollution by planting trees. Roughly half the cause of global warming can be attributed to carbon dioxide, or CO2. Deciduous and evergreen trees both have positive attributes in battling CO2 and dust: leaves use CO2 and release water and oxygen during photosynthesis, and many trees trap large amounts of small air pollutants, or particulates, on leaf surfaces. This article will address tree species commonly found in California, link to tree databases, and reference local and international research.

Read full article at Tree to Combat CO2 and Particulates


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 11, 2018

Carson Pass Wildflower Photos

Randall Brynvold has posted 90 photos from the Meiss Trailhead area north of Carson Pass and south of Lake Tahoe, at altitudes of 8,600-9,000 feet. The trail went through a mix of moist and dry meadows, and drier rocky slopes. Protected areas still had patches of melting snow and ice. See his photos at

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 11, 2018

A Guide To The World Of Mosquito Repellents

NPR has an article comparing different insect repellents and their effectiveness against Mosquitoes. DEET , picaridin, IR 3535  and oil of lemon eucalyptus came out as most effective. Read story at  A Guide To The World Of Mosquito Repellents : Goats and Soda : NPR

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 10, 2018

Carson Pass Wildflowers 7/10/18

submitted by Ter Sullivan

 The flowers are so plentiful and varied right now in the Carson Pass area, I want to encourage every plant enthusiast to get going right away to see the display at its peak. Our natural history group, which. by the way, has an entire condominium buidling at Kirkwood to itself, hiked to Round Top Lake yesterday. Here’s a list of some of the plentiful flowers along the trail that you can photograph: thousands of subalpine daisy; wavyleaf, giant red, and dwarf alpine paintbrushes; sulfur and marumleaf buckwheats; Sierra, royal, and firecraker penstemons; Brewer’s, Torrey’s, largeleaf, and spurred lupines; scarlet gilia, roundleaf snowberry, fernleaf biscuitroot, Norwegian mugwort, Shasta knotweed, Gordon’s mousetail, California valerian, antelope brush, stemless goldenweed, roundleaf snowberry, Sierra tiger lily.  Back to the Kirkwood area: Suprisingly to us, we could simply walk the paved road and spend hours botanizing both sides of the two-mile road, and there’s no traffic during weekdays.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 10, 2018

How The EPA Delays Freedom Of Information Requests

Public Employees for Environment Responsibility Press Release


Even When Sued Agencies Deploy Stalling Tactics That Consume Years

To avoid or delay the production of records requested under the Freedom of Information Act, federal agencies employ a myriad of stratagems, even after they are sued for failure to meet FOIA deadlines, reports Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). As a result, FOIA backlogs are ballooning, more lawsuits are filed, and prospects for transparency dim.

As a byproduct of its work on behalf of public employees across the federal government, PEER has a robust and wide-ranging FOIA docket. By tipping off PEER about which documents to seek, employees eliminate the need to leak documents or become whistleblowers.

Read More…

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