Field Trips

Tuesday, January 30 & Wednesday, January 31

Two days of pre-conference field trips provide opportunities for exploring the plants and natural places of the greater Los Angeles area with local experts. Plus, if you arrive early for a field trip, you can beat the rush to complete your registration check-in for the main conference without a fuss!

Field trips will utilize carpools and participants should expect to bring (or buy, as noted) a lunch. All trips will depart from and return to the LAX Marriott. Please be sure to review the physical requirements (e.g. terrain and distance of hikes) and what to bring for each trip below before registering. Pre-registration is required no later than January 14, 2018 – field trips have limited capacity and may fill up earlier, register now to secure your spot!

Please note: we will endeavor to stick to the scheduled return times stated for each field trip, but as LA area traffic is often unpredictable, some flexibility may be necessary. It may be a good idea to bring extra snacks and water just in case your return is delayed.

*If you are interested in field trips which are sold out, e-mail breilly@cnps.org to be placed on the wait list.

2018 PRE-CONFERENCE FIELD TRIPS: Click the field trip title or scroll down to see complete details.


Botany, Horticulture, and Urban Nature – How Two Venerable Institutions Are Helping Conserve Biodiversity
Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (RSABG) and Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM)
Tuesday, January 30, 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Trip Leaders: Carol Bornstein, Director, Nature Gardens, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County & Naomi Fraga, Director of Conservation Programs, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
Registration: $15

On tours led by Museum and Botanic Garden experts, attendees will have ample time to explore these two venerable institutions. At 90-year-old RSABG, the largest public garden devoted to California native plants, tours will include an exploration of the living collections on the garden grounds and behind-the-scenes tours of the herbarium, seed bank, nursery, and laboratories. At NHM, which celebrated its centennial in 2013 with the opening of the Nature Gardens and the indoor Nature Lab, we will discover how these exhibits are serving multiple functions, including connecting museum visitors to nature in the heart of the city.

Participants should be prepared for the following:

  • At NHM, a 90-minute walk on level and gently sloping paths.
  • At RSABG, 30-minute tours of each program area will be standing room only. Walking across the grounds to each program area involves an uphill walk to the research facilities. The garden grounds tour will include a 45-minute walk on sloping paths.

Please bring lunch, water, snacks, sunscreen/hat, and comfortable walking shoes.

Carol Bornstein is Director of Nature Gardens at Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. She oversees care and development of this 3.5-acre urban wildlife habitat. Through her work, including co-authoring California Native Plants for the Garden and Reimagining the California Lawn: Water-conserving Plants, Practices, and Designs, she advocates for designing sustainable, regionally appropriate landscapes in harmony with nature.

Naomi Fraga is Director of Conservation Programs at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. Her research interests include monkeyflowers, rare plants, conservation biology, and floristics. The Conservation Program at RSABG works in partnership with Federal, State, and local agencies to conduct botanical research that informs conservation and on-the-ground management decisions.

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Palos Verdes Peninsula At-A-Glance
White Point Nature Preserve and Forrestal Reserve on Palos Verdes Peninsula
Tuesday, January 30, 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Adrienne Mohan, Conservation Director, Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy & Neil Uelman, Naturalist, Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy
Registration: $15

Come and see some of the beauty the Palos Verdes Peninsula has to offer in this two-stop tour. The trip begins at White Point Nature Preserve, where we will discuss the successes and lessons learned restoring coastal sage scrub and grassland habitats. We will also view the native plant demonstration garden which honors the Native American Tongva culture and view the Nature Center. From there, we will enjoy lunch at the Ladera Linda Community Center while hearing about the current efforts to designate the Palos Verdes Natural Community Conservation Plan and management strategies to ensure protection of local rare and threatened species. After lunch, we will hike through Forrestal Reserve to get an up-close look at some of the best coastal sage scrub habitat and ocean views the Peninsula has to offer.

Participants should be prepared to walk 0.25 miles at White Point Nature Preserve over easy (ADA accessible) terrain, and 1 mile at Forrestal Reserve over moderate terrain with about 360 feet of elevation gain.

Please bring lunch, snacks, water, sunscreen/hat, and sturdy hiking shoes.

Adrienne Mohan oversees the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy’s Stewardship Program staff and conservation projects including habitat restoration, species protection, and management of the Preserves and open spaces. She has received a Masters of Geography from CSU Long Beach where she focused her research on wetland ecology.

Neil Uelman works at White Point Nature Center, and is especially interested in botany and sharing his enthusiasm for local flora with visitors. Neil has received his Masters in Botany from Cal State Dominguez Hills and is on the board of directors for the California Native Plant Society’s South Coast Chapter.

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Rare Plants and Rare Habitats of the Tejon Hills *SOLD OUT!
Tejon Ranch
Wednesday, January 31, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM (plus optional dinner – see below)
Nick Jensen, Graduate Student Researcher, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden & Dr. Ellery Mayence, Senior Ecologist and Science Program Coordinator, Tejon Ranch Conservancy
Registration: $20

At 270,000 acres, Tejon Ranch, located about 1 hour north of Los Angeles, is California’s largest contiguous piece of private land. Given its location at the junction of the Sierra Nevada, Transverse and Coast ranges, San Joaquin Valley, and Mojave Desert ecoregions, Tejon hosts more than 1,000 plant species. The Tejon Hills, located on the north side of the ranch and at the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley, contains extensive grassland habitat on uplifted marine and alluvial sediments. These habitats are home to at least 13 species ranked as rare by CNPS, including Comanche Point layia (Layia leucopappa), which is endemic to the Tejon Hills. While this field trip will be too early in the season to see much of this diversity, there should be at least a few wildflowers in bloom at the time of the workshop, including the rare Tejon poppy (Eschscholzia lemmonii subsp. kernensis) and striped adobe lily (Fritillaria striata). During this all-day field trip we will visit a variety of habitats including grasslands, alkaline springs, and riparian areas. We will also discuss Tejon Ranch as an example of private land where multiple land uses, including grazing and hunting, are compatible with the conservation of biodiversity and scientific research. Given that 88% of the ranch was placed into conservation agreements less than 10 years ago, this trip showcases one of California’s most notable recent conservation success stories.

Participants should be prepared for a series (around 4) of short 1/2 – 1 mile hikes, off-trial or along roads. Elevation gain/loss will be minimized, but there may be a short, steep climb or two.

Please bring lunch, water, snacks, sunscreen/hat, and sturdy hiking shoes.

Optional post-trip dinner in Frazier Park: Since we’ll be leaving to head back to LA in prime traffic time after a full day, participants may elect to stay a bit longer for an optional (not included in registration fee) dinner while waiting out traffic at a phenomenal vegetarian restaurant in Frazier Park, The Red Dot (http://thered.kitchen/).

Nick Jensen is currently a Ph.D candidate in botany at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (RSABG). Nick has a B.S. in Environmental Horticulture from U.C. Davis and previously served as the Rare Plant Program Director for CNPS. Over the past decade Nick has led dozens of field trips, and has taught numerous workshops on plant taxonomy and basic botany for organizations including CNPS and RSABG.

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Griffith Park and Los Angeles River *SOLD OUT!
Ferndell area of Griffith Park and Los Angeles River in Atwater Park
Wednesday, January 31, 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Dan Cooper, Cooper Ecological Monitoring, Inc. & Gerry Hans, Friends of Griffith Park
Registration: $15

We will carpool to the upper parking lot at Ferndell (north end of Western Canyon) and hike approx. 1 mike north along a park road to a “clay lens” rich in wildflowers. Ferndell is a remnant oak-sycamore stream that was the site of an ancient native American village, and the road passes through chaparral/coastal sage scrub. Our target species for the clay lens will be chocolate lily, but a few early-spring flowers should be up by then, and several local shrubs will be in bloom (chaparral currant, fuchsia-flowered gooseberry, bigpod ceanothus). We will then hike back down to the cars and reconvene about 2 miles away at Los Feliz Café on the Los Angeles River, where we will have lunch (participants can purchase lunch from the café or bring their own). Then, (weather permitting) we will walk from the café down to the river edge (the river has cement banks but its floor is mud/vegetated) and observe the diversity of native and non-native wetland and riparian species growing together here.

Participants should be prepared for a 2 mile round-trip hike at Ferndell along a paved road with maybe 400 feet of elevation gain/loss.

Please bring water, snacks, sunscreen/hat, and comfortable walking or hiking shoes. Participants should either bring a lunch or plan to purchase lunch at Los Feliz Café.

Daniel S. Cooper is a southern California native and a former California Director of Bird Conservation for the National Audubon Society. Cooper has been collecting and analyzing ecological data, and communicating findings to resource managers and decision-makers, for the past 20 years. The author of Important Bird Areas of California (Audubon California 2004) and more than two dozen peer-reviewed papers on California natural history, Cooper has worked as an independent consultant on land use and ecological issues for public and private clients around the state and in Latin America. His Flora of Griffith Park will hopefully be published in time for the trip.

Gerry Hans is the Vice-President, Science and Conservation, and co-founder of Friends of Griffith Park, and lives near the park’s southern border. A native of Illinois, he has lived for many years in southern California and Colorado and has maintained a lifelong interest in wildlife and plants as aspects of natural history. Gerry is an avid runner and cyclist and enjoys sharing his enthusiasm for the park and surroundings, and has fought tirelessly to protect the park from over-development.

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Bryophytes & Cotyledons on the Douglas Cut Trail *SOLD OUT!
Palos Verdes Peninsula – Douglas Cut Trail
Wednesday, January 31, 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Neil Uelman, CNPS South Coast Chapter Conservation Co-Chair and Bryophyte Chapter liaison & Paul Wilson, Professor of Biology, Cal State Northridge; Bryophyte Chapter President; Bryologist and Botanist
Registration: $15

Take a walk on the beautiful Douglas Cut Trail with local experts from the CNPS South Coast and Bryophtye Chapters! The Douglas Cut Trail is located on the northwest side of the Palos Verdes Peninsula along a more mesic section of the peninsula, offering a chance to view bryophytes and local vascular plants. The trail also offers breathtaking views of the Palos Verdes Peninsula’s unique coastline

Participants should be prepared to walk about 2 miles over moderate terrain.

Please bring snacks, water, sunscreen/hat, comfortable walking shoes, and a hand lens. We will stop for lunch at Malaga Plaza where there are various places to purchase lunch, or participants can opt to bring their own lunch.

Neil Uelman is the CNPS South Coast Chapter’s Conservation Co-Chair and Bryophyte Chapter liaison. He is also a naturalist with the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy and is currently writing a field guide to the native vascular plants of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. He has received a M.S. in Environmental Science with an emphasis in botany from Cal State Dominguez Hills where he focused his research on biological soil crust and bryophytes.

Paul Wilson is a professor of Biology at Cal State Northridge and is the CNPS Bryophyte Chapter president. He is an expert in California bryology and botany.

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