Posted by: Sandy Steinman | May 28, 2023

National Audubon Society

Every year the Audubon Photography Awards reveal birds at their most memorable—and their quirkiest, too. In fact, some of the best shots show them looking majestic, weird, or downright hilarious.  

The contest never fails to attract entries capturing rare and unusual moments in the avian world. Enjoy this collection featuring birds just…well, being birds! And learn what behavior lies behind the strange-looking poses they strike.
Check Out The Photos

— Read on

The Guardian reports

Feral horses in the Australian alps pose an imminent threat to the Albanese government’s zero extinctions target, a scientific committee that advises the government on endangered species has told a parliamentary inquiry.

The threatened species scientific committee (TSSC) says feral horses “may be the crucial factor that causes final extinction” of six critically endangered animals and at least two critically endangered plants.

Read more at : Feral horses an ‘imminent threat’ that could cause extinction of several endangered Australian species, inquiry warned | Australia news | The Guardian

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | May 27, 2023

Inyo County Road Openings

Road closure update for May 25, 2023 (please note that Moffat Ranch Rd. is now OPEN). UPDATE: South Lake Road is open to Parchers Resort.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | May 27, 2023

Scientists in the Parks Youth and Young Adult Internships

Apply now to be a Scientists in Parks intern with positions starting between October and April! The deadline is June 11th to apply.
🌟 Every year, the Scientists in Parks work experience program places hundreds of aspiring professionals across the National Park System to work on natural resource management needs.
👀 The program is committed to providing all aspiring professionals—especially those underrepresented in science—with a unique opportunity to work on important real-world projects while building professional experience and a life-long connection to America’s national parks.

Read More…

Center for Biological Diversity News Release

PINEDALE, Wyo.— The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s authorization of the killing of up to 72 grizzly bears on public land just outside of Yellowstone National Park violated federal law.

Meant to accommodate private grazing operations in grizzly habitat, the 2019 grazing authorization would have allowed an unlimited percentage of females to be killed in response to livestock conflict, despite the significance of breeding bears to the species’ recovery. But now the court has remanded the decision to the agencies to fix the legal deficiencies.

“We’re hopeful that in reconsidering their flawed analysis, the agencies will spare dozens of female grizzly bears previously sentenced to death by the Trump administration,” said Andrea Zaccardi, legal director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s carnivore conservation program. “This ruling confirms that federal officials can’t sidestep the law to allow grizzly bears to be killed on public lands to appease the livestock industry.”

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | May 27, 2023

Why mosses are vital for the health of our soil and Earth

UNSW Sydney Media Release

Often ignored or even removed, moss provides stabilisation for plant ecosystems the world over.

Some people see moss growing in their gardens as a problem, but what they may not realise is this ancient ancestor of all plants is bringing lots of benefits to our green spaces, such as protecting against erosion.

Now a massive global study led by UNSW Sydney has found mosses are not just good for the garden, but are just as vital for the health of the entire planet when they grow on topsoil. Not only do they lay the foundations for plants to flourish in ecosystems around the world, they may play an important role mitigating against climate change by capturing vast amounts of carbon.

Read more at  Media Release: Why mosses are vital for the health of our soil and Earth: UNSW Sydney – Horticultural Media Association

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | May 26, 2023

Job Openings

Two new job postings from the California Native Plants Job Announcement page:

Horticulturist-I, California Botanic Garden

Project Manager II (Watershed Habitat Restoration and Fisheries Monitoring)

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | May 26, 2023

Theodore Payne Foundation Upcoming Classes & Workshops


from Theodore Payne Foundation

Horticulture, design, maintenance, botany, nature walks, ethnobotany, art, poetry, and more! Our extensive Education Program offers a range of classes for both beginners and experts with training by TPF staff and guest instructors. Classes are held at TPF in our La Fetra Nature Education Center, on TPF grounds, at various off-site locations, and on Zoom.

See event calendar at : Classes & Workshops | Theodore Payne Foundation

The Gardian reports

‘Fascinating’ discovery could prove a useful non-invasive diagnostic tool to apply to other species,

The vivid blue irises of northern gannets turn black if they survive avian flu, according to a study which provides evidence that some wild birds are shaking off the deadly virus.

Read more at Irises of gannets that survive avian flu turn from blue to black, study finds | Birds | The Guardian

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | May 25, 2023

Highway 120 to Yosemite May Open June 10

From Yosemite National Park
We are pleased to announce that Big Oak Flat Road (continuation of Highway 120 into Yosemite from the west) will reopen with delays on Saturday, June 10, barring any unforeseen complications or weather delays. Thanks to the Federal Highway Administration and the contractor, who are working seven days per week to open the road as quickly as possible.
Currently, Big Oak Flat Road is closed west of Merced Grove; there is no access to Yosemite via Hwy 120 from the west (except to Hodgdon Meadow and Hetch Hetchy) until June 10. Yosemite Valley and other areas of the park are accessible if entering the park via Highways 41 and 140.
Mariposa Grove Road will open tomorrow, May 26, at 9 am to vehicles displaying a disability placard. However, shuttle service will not resume until later in June.
Posted by: Sandy Steinman | May 25, 2023

Calflora’s 9th Annual Photo Contest

Participate in Calflora’s 9th Annual May Photo Contest

To join the contest, upload plant photos here during the month of May. Publish and then “like” your photo to add it to the contest. We made this video tutorial for you.You may also add photos via Calflora’s phone app Observer Pro for Apple or Android. Add photos as you take them or load photos into Observer Pro from your phone’s photo gallery or roll after you’ve taken the photo.

Learn more and upload your photos at May Photo Contest

Center for Biological Diversity News Release

WASHINGTON— An assessment released today by the Environmental Protection Agency found that three popular neonicotinoid insecticides are likely to jeopardize the continued existence of more than 200 plants and animals protected under the Endangered Species Act. This includes 25 insect species and more than 160 plants dependent on insect pollination.

The new finding on clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam comes one year after the agency completed biological evaluations on the pesticides. Those assessments found that the vast majority of endangered species — 1,225 (67% of all endangered species) for clothianidin, 1,445 (79%) for imidacloprid, and 1,396 (77%) for thiamethoxam — were likely harmed by these three insecticides.

Today’s finding focuses on which species are likely to be driven extinct by these three insecticides. These imperiled species include Attwater’s greater prairie-chicken, rusty patched bumblebee, Karner blue butterfly, American burying beetle, Western prairie fringed orchid, vernal pool fairy shrimp and the spring pygmy sunfish.

Read More…

NPR  reported on why we need to keep a distance from wild animals

Yellowstone National Park rangers euthanized a newborn bison calf after a visitor touched the animal, trying to help it catch up with its herd, the National Park Service said on Tuesday.

The herd had been crossing the Lamar River on Saturday evening when the calf got separated from its mother on the river bank, according to a press release from the agency. A man observing the scene approached the animal with apparent rescue intentions.

“As the calf struggled, the man pushed the calf up from the river and onto the roadway,” NPS said. “Visitors later observed the calf walk up to and follow cars and people.”

Read more at  Yellowstone bison calf euthanized after being touched by park guest : NP

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | May 24, 2023

Astronomers Detect a Star Devouring a Planet

NASA reports

A star nearing the end of its life swelled up and absorbed a Jupiter-size planet.

In about 5 billion years, our Sun will go through a similar end-of-life transition.A new study published online Wednesday, May 3, in the journal Nature documents the first observation of an aging star swallowing a planet. After running out of fuel in its core, the star began to grow in size, shrinking the gap with its neighboring planet, eventually consuming it entirely. In about 5 billion years, our Sun will go through a similar aging process, possibly reaching 100 times its current diameter and becoming what’s known as a red giant. During that growth spurt, it will absorb Mercury, Venus, and possibly Earth.

Read more and see an artist’s rendition of a planet being swallowed by a star at  Caught in the Act: Astronomers Detect a Star Devouring a Planet | NASA

CNPS News Release

The California Native Plant Society (CNPS) and Santa Barbara Botanic Garden (the Garden) announced the “re-discovery” of a native plant species not documented in decades. Prior to the new finding, the Santa Ynez groundstar (Ancistrocarphus keilii, CRPR 1B.1) was known only from very old records and one or two occurrences.

Read more  Only Known Population Found of Rare California Native Plant Not Documented in Almost 30 Years – California Native Plant Society

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | May 21, 2023

Yosemite Closures & Water Conditions

When unusually warm weather meets several feet of dense Sierra Nevada snow, things get interesting. All that water has to go somewhere! Quite a bit is flowing through Yosemite Valley right now, tumbling spectacularly over cliffs and cutting through canyons, pouring into the Merced River and overflowing its banks, blissfully unconcerned with human inventions like roads and campgrounds.
🚩 Minor flooding continues in Yosemite Valley, with water levels forecast to peak over the next few nights. Forecasts show cooler weather and decreased flooding starting mid-week, but we expect additional flooding off and on until early July.
🚩 Housekeeping Camp, Lower Pines Campground, and North Pines Campground remain closed at least through Tuesday night. No additional closures are planned at this time, though this could change if the river rises more than forecast.
🚩 Visitors may encounter water on roads, especially in the morning and evening.
🚩 Admire rivers, creeks, and waterfalls from a safe distance. Flowing water is surprisingly swift, cold, and dangerous, even if it appears calm from the surface. Stay back from flowing water, and keep off of slick rocks along waterways.
🚩 Do not attempt to cross bridges with water flowing over them.
🚩 We shouldn’t have to say it, but do not try to wade, swim, or float on any rivers or creeks. Yosemite’s waters are completely closed to rafting and other recreation. Rivers are icy cold, incredibly powerful, and extremely hazardous.
What’s closed right now? Check current conditions on Yosemite’s website:

Science Alert  reports 

Scientists are alarmed as sea surface temperatures stubbornly maintain record-breaking highs for more than a month, pushing the state of Earth’s oceans into uncharted territory.

Starting in mid-March, data from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) leaps dramatically from earlier recordings, following lows of both Arctic and Antarctic sea ice this year.

Read more at Scientists Are Alarmed as Sea Surface Temperatures Hit Uncharted Territory : ScienceAlert

SF Gate reports

Satellite images from NASA show how a long-lost lake recently reappeared in California’s San Joaquin Valley after a torrent of storms pounded the Golden State this winter.

Read more and see images at NASA images show the reappearance of a long-lost California lake

Science  reports

Scientists long thought only insects and birds served as pollinators, but research has revealed that some reptiles and mammals are more than up to the task. Now, scientists must consider whether amphibians are also capable of getting the job done. It’s likely that the nectar-loving frogs, also known as Izecksohn’s Brazilian tree frogs, are transferring pollen as they move from flower to flower, the authors say. But more research is needed, they add, to confirm that frogs have joined the planet’s pantheon of pollinators.

Read story at This Brazilian frog might be the first pollinating amphibian known to science | Science | AAAS

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | May 19, 2023

Wild horses are turning up dead at Mono Lake after snow melts

The L.A.Times reports

Several wild horse carcasses have been discovered this spring on the southwestern shores of Mono Lake, after California endured a cold and snowy winter.

As multiple feet of snow finally melted around one of Mono County’s greatest attractions, U.S. Forest Service officials and volunteers found remnants of a large presence of wild horses — ones that typically range much farther east — that wintered around Mono Lake and left behind massive amounts of manure, ecological damage and in some cases, decaying skeletons.
— Read on

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | May 19, 2023

Sonora Pass Update

On State Route 108 (Sonora Pass), maintenance crews have reached Upper Sardine Meadow.
Here, the snow is between five to seven feet deep. That might not sound like a lot, but as they draw closer to the Mono/Tuolumne County Line, they’re encountering heavy, moisture-rich snow that is dense and tightly packed.
Crews are still utilizing multiple snowblowers and a snowcat to clear the roads. Maintenance crews on the ground anticipate they’ll reach the deepest snow on the highway within the next week.

NPR reports

A recent study took 18 pet parrots and examined whether video calls could help them fulfill their social needs.

Read more listen to the story at  Lonely pet parrots find friendship through video chats, a new study finds : NPR

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | May 18, 2023

A Vanished Bird Might Live On, or Not. The Video Is Grainy

The New York Times reports

Scientists say they’ve compiled evidence showing that the ivory-billed woodpecker, a kind of Holy Grail for American birders, still exists.
— Read on

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | May 18, 2023

UC Bot. garden Pop-up sale of trees & shrubs May 19-May 28

Shop for a variety of unique trees and shrubs grown by the Garden’s volunteer propagators. Find rare beauty for your home garden!


Opening Day, Friday, May 19: Members only from 9:00 am–10:00 am

General Public: 10:00 am–4:30 pm Saturday, May 20–Sunday, May 28: 10:30 am–4:30 pm daily

  • Members receive their regular 10% discount on plant purchases
  • Bring a box to carry your purchases home.
  • If you plan to only shop without a Garden visit, there is no reservation or admission fee required.

Check the website via the link below for a list of available plants and a few of our propagator’s favorites!

List of available plants
UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley | 200 Centennial Dr, Berkeley, CA 94720

Your purchases at this sale provide support for our work at the Garden. Thank you

There are Free Weekend and Holiday Tours at the Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Tilden Park in Berkeley, CA.

The garden is part of the East Bay Regional Parks. Admission and parking are free.

Join knowledgeable docents for free guided tours of the garden on non-rainy Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays*. They usually last about an hour and are appropriate for both adults and children. You can leave a tour at any time.

  • Saturdays/Holidays* at 2 pm
  • Sundays at 11 am or 2 pm

Meet at the Visitor’s Center. Tours are limited to a maximum of 10 people. No reservations are needed.

* Holidays: Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day (the garden is closed on New Years Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day)

The Guardian reports

Vaccine gets emergency approval as ‘highly contagious’ virus sweeps through flocks of species on the brink of extinction

Read more at  Avian flu vaccine for California condors approved amid fears of extinction | California | The Guardian

The Guardian writes about the threat of superbloom tourism to California’s wild areas

The spectacle that washes hillsides in color draws thousands each year, but raises generations-old concerns about protecting wild spaces.

But the crowds also can make their own paths through sensitive areas, causing damage and threatening the future of the phenomenon. While debate over how to balance appreciating the superbloom without overwhelming it has intensified in recent years, it reflects concerns about society’s creep into wild places that date back more than a century, particularly during periods o

Read article at  The dazzling, troubling history of California superbloom tourism | California | The Guardian

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | May 17, 2023

Massive Blue Hole Discovered Near Mexico: New Lifeforms Inside?

Popular Mechanics reports

  • Scientists have released a study of their 2021 discovery of the world’s second-deepest blue hole off the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula coast.
  • At about 900 feet deep, the blue hole find trails only one other in depth—the Dragon Hole in the South China Sea.
  • The new blue hole features steep slopes forming a conic structure with the study of microbial diversity below an intriguing possibility.

Read more  Massive Blue Hole Discovered Near Mexico: New Lifeforms Inside?

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | May 16, 2023

Yosemite Tioga Road Snow Clearing Progress

Snow is flying on Tioga Road this spring! After an unprecedented winter, much of Yosemite’s high country is still covered in several feet of snow, and the park’s dedicated road crew really has their work cut out for them.
Each spring, crews work to clear 45.5 miles of road between Crane Flat and the entrance station at Tioga Pass. As of Saturday, May 13, plows have cleared the first 11 miles of road, cutting a deep corridor through the snow.

Glaciologists bored 500 meters through the Kamb Ice Stream to access the cavern.They also found an underground river and life

Read story at Science News A massive cavern beneath a West Antarctic glacier is teeming with life

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