Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 21, 2018

Yosemite: Horsetail Falls & Firefall Appear

The San Francisco Chronicle reports

Amid a year marked by low rainfall, there was some concern that Yosemite’s famous “firefall” would be running dry in February.

When Horsetail Fall is flowing and the weather conditions are just right, the setting sun illuminates the ribbon of water and granite face with a fiery glow.

A week ago, the falls was as dry as a bone. But with the light snow flurries over the weekend, a trickle is now dripping down the face of Horsetail, treating onlookers to one of California’s favorite natural splendors.

See photos and read full article at With only a trickle of water, Yosemite’s ‘firefall’ still puts on show – SFGate

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 21, 2018

Famous Quote On Wild Places

The wild places are where we began. When they end, so do we.

David Brower
Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 20, 2018

Antelope Valley Wildflowers 2/18/18

Poppy Reserve/ Mojave Desert Interpretive Association field report for 2/18/18

There are plants of filaree, fiddleneck, blue dick, cheat grass and some bunch grasses are getting new blades. Also spot-ted four o’clocks starting to get new leaves along with lupine. Found some common parsley and it was the only plant that had flowers. There are poppies but not like last year. I checked the weather and by February 19, 2017 the reserve had received 10.10 –inches of rain. As of February 13, 2018 only 1.87 –inches. The photo on the left shows a poppy plant photographed on February 20, 2017. It was 5-inches across and the first poppy bud was emerging from the center of the rosette.

See photos and more information at  poppies, Poppy Reserve/ Mojave Desert Interpretive Association Field Observations

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 20, 2018

Pt. Reyes Wildflowers: Chimney Rock 2/19/18

Marin CNPS reports on an early season walk at Chimney Rock, Pt. Reyes

We saw 49 species in flower, but because of the lack of rain this year, the display was not as good as in 2015.

See 15 photos from the walk at Marin Native Plants Public Group | Facebook

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 20, 2018

France To Let Wolf Population Grow

BBC reports

France is to allow the wolf population to grow from about 360 now to 500 by 2023, despite protests from farmers worried about their livestock.

A new plan announced by the government represents a rise of nearly 40% in the wolf population.

After being eradicated by hunters in the 1930s, the wolf made its way back into France from Italy in the 1990s.

Wolves are listed as a protected species by the Bern Convention that France has signed up to.

Read full story at France to let wolf population grow despite farmers’ fears – BBC News

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 19, 2018

Desert Wildflower Outlook Remains Bleak

One more news story about the lack of rain in the desert. Not only is a superbloom unlikely. It is my guess that even an average bloom is highly unlikely given the lack of rain. Read story in the LA Times Lack of rain makes desert wildflower super blooms unlikely this year

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 19, 2018

East Bay Native Plant Garden Tour 5/6/18

2018 Bring Back The Native Garden Tour May 6

Registration for the Sunday, May 6, 2018  Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour is now open! This year’s tour will fill; register now to reserve your place.

The Garden Tour – Forty bird- and butterfly-friendly, pesticide-free, water conserving, low maintenance gardens that contain 60% or more native plants will be open on Sunday, May 6, 2018, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at various locations throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties. More than forty garden talks will be offered throughout the week-end of the Tour.

Art and Music in the Gardens – Join us for a day of art and music in the gardens on the day of the Tour!  Whether you are interested in enjoying sculptures in situ, browsing art for sale, or sketching a garden yourself, this is the Tour for you!  In addition, you are invited to settle down in one of a number of beautiful gardens to hear bluegrass, Baroque, jazz, or Renaissance music, as well as flutes, woodwinds, guitar, and even sitar.

Join California’s Native Plant Movement! – Special Offer for Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour Registrants
Become a California Native Plant Society (CNPS) member for just $15 (normally $45) when you register for the Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour. That’s 66% off the regular membership price. Members receive the beautiful Flora magazine, filled with native gardening tips, inspiring interviews, and photo essays. You’ll also be put in touch with your local chapter for field trip, volunteer, and other event information. Simply complete your online registration for the Tour, and in your registration confirmation email you’ll find a discount code for a one-year Individual membership. Don’t miss this rare discounted opportunity to join CNPS in its mission to restore nature one garden at a time and save California’s native plants and places. Offer good through midnight, May 6 and does not apply to current CNPS members.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 18, 2018

DesertUSA Wildflower Updates 2/19/18

DesertUSA reports

February 19, 2018 – A few wildflowers are starting to bloom in Death Valley, Mojave National Preserve and Anza Borrego area. Not much rain at the point and we will need more rain soon for a good bloom this year.

Carrizo Plain National Monument reports: More than midway through the “rainy” season, and there’s been a hiccup. San Luis Obispo County, California, home to the Carrizo Plain, typically gets more than a foot of rain from October through mid-February. But this season, slightly more than one inch of precipitation has fallen in that timeframe, nowhere near enough for wildflowers.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument Reports: Rain came, with the recent rainy weather keep on the look out for possible heavy equipment grading our public roads.

Death Valley a few photos between Furnace Creek and artists loop at

Whitewate Preserve Yucca Valley area pictures taken on 2/16/17.


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 18, 2018

Marin Wildflowers 2/18/18 – updated

Marin CNPS Facebook page just posted the following

Lucas Valley Road this past Tuesday 2/13/18 the following were seen in bloom: Sanicula tuberosa – turkey-pea, Micranthes californica – California saxifrage, Aristolochia californica – California pipe-vine, Blennosperma nanum var. nanum – little blennosperma, and Scoliopus bigelovii – fetid adder’s tongue. See photos at Marin CNPS 

Mt, Tam Not many flowers on Bernstein, High Marsh, and Cataract loop.
Quite dry for this time of year. Flowers in bloom included Baby Blue Eyes, Hound’s Tongue, Indian Warrior , Manzanita sp. and Calypso Orchid.

Nicasio Dam Wed. 2/14/18 Dirca below Nicasio Dam. Many were in flower. Very poor conditions for photography. They grow in deep shade and this was at the end of the day with the light fading, and with strong gusts of wind to make them sway around.

See photos for all the above at Marin CNPS 

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 18, 2018

Anza-Borrego Desert Wildflowers 2/18/18

Anza-Borrego Desert Wildflowers most recent postings

2/12/2018 The germination from the rain is mostly gone because of the high temperatures and the lack of additional rain.
2/18/2018 No rain, things don’t look very bright.

Only if a miracle happens, like a good rain in March we might get a bloom in April.
When is the question, peak bloom normally occurs between mid March – mid April. But this isn’t going to happen now.
WARNING this is still a BIG IF.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 18, 2018

A Destructive Invasive Rodent Invades California

The San Francisco Chronicle reports

A giant invasive rodent with the ability to destroy roads, levees and wetlands has been discovered in Stanislaus County.

Weighing in at 20 pounds and measuring 2 feet, 6 inches long, plus a 12-inch tail, the nutria live in or near water. They’re also incredibly destructive.

“They burrow in dikes, and levees, and road beds, so they weaken infrastructure, (which is) problematic for flood control systems,”

Read full article at Invasive 20-pound rodents increasingly burrowing into California – SFGate

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 17, 2018

My Great Backyard Bird Count Results

Today we watched our yard birds for about 90 minutes as part of the Great backyard Bird Count. We live in the North Berkeley, CA flatlands. We have mostly native plants in our garden and a fair number of trees in our yard and the neighborhood. We came up with 18 species identified and possibly three more .  Listed below are the 18 we clearly identified by sight and sound. The three possibles which were basically quick partly blocked looks  may have been Cedar Waxwing, Bushtit and Hermit Thrush. Surprising missing was we had no Anna’s Hummingbirds today. They are usually a regular visitor to our garden.

Yesterday our garden lost two spruce trees that were dying and were taken out. Unfortunately, our yard birds liked to perch on them.  Today we planted a native Western Redbud/Cercis occidentalis, which is supposed to be a good bird tree, is drought tolerant after being established,  and also tolerates our clay soil.

Nuttall’s Woodpecker  1
American Crow  3
Common Raven  1
Chestnut-backed Chickadee  2
Oak Titmouse  2
Red-breasted Nuthatch  1
Bewick’s Wren  1
Townsend’s Warbler  1
Fox Sparrow  1
Dark-eyed Junco  5
White-crowned Sparrow  2
Golden-crowned Sparrow  3
White-throated Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  1
California Towhee  1
House Finch  2
Lesser Goldfinch  4
House Sparrow  3

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 17, 2018

Yosemite Announces Mariposa Grove Reopens June 15

Yosemite National Park News Release

The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias will Open at 9:00 am on Friday, June 15, 2018

Yosemite National Park announces that the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias will reopen to the public at 9:00 am on Friday, June 15, 2018.

The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias has been closed since July 2015 to complete a landmark restoration project. In partnership with Yosemite Conservancy, the National Park Service has been working to improve natural hydrology, construct an ADA-accessible boardwalk, construct an improved welcome plaza, and improve the overall visitor experience.

This landmark project has been possible thanks to a strong public/private partnership between the National Park Service and Yosemite Conservancy. To learn more about the restoration of the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, please visit

To visit the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, visitors will park in a new 300-vehicle parking area at the South Entrance and hop on a free shuttle at the Welcome Plaza, which will transport you to the Lower Grove. More details and tips on how to plan your visit will be forthcoming. The Mariposa Grove remains closed for public safety due to ongoing construction work.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 17, 2018

Mutant Crayfish Clones Itself & Is Taking Over Europe

The New York Times reported on a mutant Crayfish that clones itself, and is taking over europe. It is somewhat similar to the Tribbles on Star Trek.

Before about 25 years ago, the species simply did not exist. A single drastic mutation in a single crayfish produced the marbled crayfish in an instant.

The mutation made it possible for the creature to clone itself, and now it has spread across much of Europe and gained a toehold on other continents. In Madagascar, where it arrived about 2007, it now numbers in the millions and threatens native crayfish.

Read full story at This Mutant Crayfish Clones Itself, and It’s Taking Over Europe – The New York Times

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 16, 2018

Henry Coe Wildflower Update 2/16/18

Henry Coe State Park has a new wildflower bloom report  for February 16, 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 | February 16, 2018

DesertUSA Wildflower Updates 2/16/18

DesertUSA reports

February 16, 2018 – A few wildflowers are starting to bloom in Death Valley, Mojave National Preserve and Anza Borrego area. Not much rain at the point and we will need more rain soon for a good bloom this year.

Anza-Borrego – Still waiting for rain for the wildflowers, the cactus should start to bloom in a few weeks.

Death Valley – photo from  Feb. 12, 2018, Hwy 127 between Shoshone and Tecopa Springs. south of Death Valley at

Mojave NP – Amboy Area Kelbaker Road just past Kelso, there are a lot more of the yellow flowers growing along I-40. Still a ways from the full bloom. See photo at
No wildflowers in the Amboy area yet, but a great sunset yesterday.


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 16, 2018

New Peru National Park Protects Millions Acres Of Rain Forest

The New York Times reports

The remote rain forests in Peru’s northeast corner are vast — so vast that the clouds that form above them can influence rainfall in the western United States. The region contains species, especially unusual fish, that are unlike any found elsewhere on Earth. Scientists studying the area’s fauna and flora may gain insights into evolutionary processes and into the ecological health and geological history of the Amazon.

Now the area has become home to one of the Western Hemisphere’s newest national parks. Yaguas National Park will protect millions of acres of roadless wilderness — and the indigenous people who rely on it — from development and deforestation.

Read full story at  Peru Moves to Protect ‘One of the Last Great Intact Forests’ – The New York Times

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 15, 2018

Lawsuit To Protect Endangered Species From Trump Administration

 Center for Biological Diversity News Release

Lawsuit Launched to Protect Endangered Species From Trump Administration’s Rollback of Clean Water Protections

WASHINGTON— Conservation groups filed a formal notice of intent today to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for failing to consider harm to endangered species when adopting a rule that delays the effective date for the 2015 Clean Water Rule. That rule redefined which waterways are protected under the federal Clean Water Act.

The two-year delay is the first of several steps the federal agencies are taking to carry out a 2017 executive order by President Trump that would slash protections for wetlands, creeks and rivers across the nation. The EPA and Army Corps are rushing to comply with the order without considering harm to water quality or  endangered species.

“It is clear EPA and the Corps are determined to reduce or eliminate Clean Water Act protections for the majority of our nation’s waters, and they are attempting to do that without legal authority and without complying with the nation’s most basic environmental laws,” said Kelly Hunter Foster, a Waterkeeper Alliance senior attorney.

Among the waters likely to lose protection against pollution and destruction under the agencies’ Feb. 6 delay rule are wetlands such as vernal pools in California, prairie potholes in the upper Midwest and coastal pocosins that provide vital habitat for imperiled species.

“Every day the Trump administration blocks protections for these wetlands is another day that polluters are allowed to drive birds, fish and other animals closer to extinction,” said Hannah Connor, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We just can’t let that happen.”

At the time the 2015 Clean Water Rule was adopted, the conservation groups involved in today’s legal action challenged it for creating illegal exemptions for industry and failing to protect important waterways and endangered species. But the groups say the two-year delay of the rule compounds those problems by further reducing the number and types of protected waters in violation of the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and other federal laws.

“Instead of resolving the debate, delay grants a giant green light for Big Ag to continue dumping agricultural pollutants on our food and in our environment,” said Adam Keats, a senior attorney at the Center for Food Safety. “We need to strengthen, not gut, the laws that keep industrial agricultural pollution in check, and the time to do that is now, not two years from now.”

The 2015 rule is one of many environmental rules identified by the Trump EPA for elimination. The agency has also slowed its enforcement of federal pollution laws, including the Clean Water Act.

“We will do everything in our power to stop the Trump administration from allowing industrial polluters to turn our waterways into sewers, threatening endangered species and human health,” said Todd Steiner, biologist and executive director of Turtle Island Restoration Network.

Today’s notice of intent was submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Turtle Island Restoration Network, Waterkeeper Alliance, Humboldt Baykeeper (a program of the Northcoast Environmental Center), Russian Riverkeeper, Upper Missouri Waterkeeper, Snake River Waterkeeper and Monterey Coastkeeper (a program of the Otter Project). It demands that the agencies come into compliance with the Endangered Species Act before proposing a rule to delay the 2015 Clean Water Rule.

The groups filing today’s notice of intent are represented by Earthrise Law Center, the environmental legal clinic at Lewis & Clark Law School.


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 14, 2018

9th Annual Point Reyes Birding & Nature Festival April 27th-29th

9th annual Point Reyes Birding and Nature Festival
April 27th-29th

Schedule at a Glance

Early-Bird Member Registration – February 13
Please note only EAC members, not guests. Join our member circle today.

Public Registration & Tickets on Sale – February 20

Grab your brood and flock to our annual spring festival celebrating the
Year of the Bird, the 100th Anniversary of the Migratory Bird Act,
 spring migration, and West Marin’s unique biodiversity. Proceeds help our ongoing work to protect nesting birds in Marin, and mission. Headquartered in Point Reyes Station, our festival features over 50 field events and indoor workshops led by top Bay Area bird guides and naturalists, plus two early evening keynote speaker events and youth programming.

With over 54% of all North American birds sighted and recorded in the area, participants will have the opportunity to view migrating seabirds, waterfowl, resident and migrant land birds.  In addition to the unique birding opportunities, there are stunning wildflower displays, tidepools, butterflies, and dragonflies, migrating whales, elephant seals, sea lions, and tule elk waiting to be discovered.

For more information go to POINT REYES BIRDING & NATURE FESTIVAL

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 14, 2018

Iris Blooming In China Camp State Park

The Marin CNPS reports that Iris are in bloom on the Bayview trail, which is in China Camp State Park and Footsteps of Spring out in the Marin Headlands. See photos at Marin CNPS Facebook Page

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 14, 2018

Predictions Poor For Desert Wildflower Bloom

East County Magazine reports

Other than one strong storm in January, the desert has had a drier than average season, so very few flowers have germinated. Since the first of the year less than a half inch of rain has fallen in Borrego Springs.

While peak season for desert wildflowers is in March, seasoned wildflower watchers are predicting any more rain wil likely be too little, too late.

Read full article at  DESERT WILDFLOWER SEASON WILTING WITHOUT RAIN | East County Magazine

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 14, 2018

Animals Can Count

The New York Times reports on animals ability to “count”

Scientists have found that animals across the evolutionary spectrum have a keen sense of quantity, able to distinguish not just bigger from smaller or more from less, but two from four, four from ten, forty from sixty.

Read full story and learn how animals evaluate quanity and it impacts their behaviors at  Many Animals Can Count, Some Better Than You – The New York Times

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 13, 2018

Regional Park Botanic Garden Early Season Photos 2/13/18

Photos of some of the plants in bloom today at the Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Tilden Park in Berkeley, CA

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 13, 2018

Business & Wildlife Groups Working To Save Gopher Tortoise

NPR reports on an unusual business and environmental group alliance working together to save Gopher Tortoise

Georgia businesses are taking an unusual approach. They’re working with wildlife agencies, private foundations, environmental groups – and even the Department of Defense – on a project to save the gopher tortoise. They hope to protect enough animals that federal regulation won’t be necessary.

Read story at Business And Wildlife Groups Skip The Fight, Work Together To Save A Species : NPR

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 12, 2018

Cal. Dept. Fish & Wildlife Lands Pass Program Update

California Department of Fish and Wildlife News Release

CDFW Postpones Lands Pass Implementation on Specific Properties

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has suspended the lands pass requirement at some state locations in response to a request from other state agencies.

The lands pass requirement is suspended indefinitely at the following CDFW properties

  • Batiquitos Lagoon Ecological Reserve
  • Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve
  • Buena Vista Lagoon Ecological Reserve
  • Crescent City Marsh Wildlife Area
  • Eel River Wildlife Area Read More…
Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 12, 2018

2018 Great Smoky Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage

The 2018 Great Smoky Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage is April 24 to 28.

The Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage is a 68-year old annual event in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park featuring professionally-guided walks to explore the region’s rich natural and cultural resources. More than 700 pilgrims from more than 30 states and several countries joined us in 2017. Our programs included fungi, ferns, wildflowers, trees and shrubs, medicinal plants, insects (terrestrial and aquatic), salamanders and snakes, birds, mammals (bats to bears), birds, journaling, art and photography, and park history.

15 January 2018 – Leader/Expert registration opens
6 February 2018 – release of 2018 Program of Events
16 February 2018 – Brochure with complete program is released
1 March 2018 – Pilgrim/attendee registration opens online
24-28 April 2018 – Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage

Learn more at Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage including program, prices and lodging information

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 12, 2018

How Flowering Plants Conquered The World

The BBC reports

Scientists think they have the answer to a puzzle that baffled even Charles Darwin: How flowers evolved and spread to become the dominant plants on Earth.

Read article at How flowering plants conquered the world – BBC News

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 11, 2018

Phoenix Lake, Marin Co. Early Wildflowers 2/10/18

The Marin County CMPS Facebook page reports

Last week at Phoenix Lake in Marin: Scoliopus Biglovii, Pedicularis densiflora, Cynoglossum officinale, Trillium, and beginning Fritilary….
It’s all just starting, except for the sweet Fetids who will be gone soon. Got to keep going back…

See photos at  (2) Marin Native Plants

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 11, 2018

Yosemite’s Horsetail Falls Is Dry 2/11/18

Yosemite National Park reports:

Horsetail Fall remains dry, with no precipitation in the forecast.  See photo at

Beginning Monday, February 12, entering the viewing area on Northside Drive by car requires a permit (no permit is required for pedestrians). Find all the details at


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 11, 2018

Marin County Wildflowers 2/10/18

The Marin CNPS Facebook page has photos from Tomales, and the Dillon Beach area, and back along the coast at  Marin Native Plants.
Flowers in bloom included Star Zigadene, and  Spring Gold Parsley

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