Collaboration in the Age of Conflict: Working with Partners Across the NGO, Public and Private sectors
Friday, October 21 at 1:00-2:40 pm, Oak Room
Session Description: The increasing scale and interrelatedness of conservation and resource management requires strong collaboration. This session will focus on case studies of effective multi-stakeholder partnerships, along with important lessons learned.
Session Chair: Liv O’Keeffe (California Native Plant Society, Sacramento, CA, USA)
*Session generously sponsored by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources
24.1 Cultivating Biodiversity in San Francisco’s Western Ecological Corridor
Beth Cataldo (CNPS Yerba Buena Chapter, San Francisco, CA, USA), Jennifer Cooper (Landscape Architecture Bureau Manager, San Francisco Public Works, San Francisco, CA, USA), Solange Guillaume (Landscape Architecture Associate, San Francisco Public Works, San Francisco, CA, USA), Bob Hall (CNPS Yerba Buena Chapter, San Francisco, CA, USA)
Sunset Boulevard is an iconic San Francisco greenway – a source of civic pride and neighborhood identity. It is also a vital ecological corridor, connecting the San Francisco green spaces of Lake Merced and Golden Gate Park through 2.5 miles of residential neighborhoods. A unique feature of the boulevard is its large medians, which were planted in the 1930s and 1940s with turf grass and trees that were mostly Monterey cypress and Monterey pine. As drought limited the watering capacity of the City of San Francisco over the past decade, this change in the irrigation regime impacted the health and sped up senescence of the Sunset Boulevard’s trees. The San Francisco Public Works Bureau of Landscape Architecture was tasked with creating a new planting plan for the boulevard that would use minimal water and be easy to maintain because of the boulevard’s scale. Through the community process, the Sunset Boulevard Biodiversity Master Plan was created to address the issues of drought-tolerance, ease of maintenance, and enhancement of biodiversity. During the process of creating the master plan, members of the California Native Plant Society Yerba Buena Chapter reached out to provide feedback about plants selected for the boulevard. Through this relationship, a collaboration was born that led to the creation of pilot blocks exhibiting the possibilities of planting Sunset Boulevard with a biodiversity-focused palette. These pilot blocks have engaged hundreds of volunteers and have become a focal point for community engagement and awareness of native plants. The lessons learned on these pilot blocks, which we will share in our presentation, will inform future plantings of Sunset Boulevard. The boulevard has a long way to grow, but our collaboration has set a precedent for enhancing the health and biodiversity of Sunset Boulevard’s whole community.
24.2 Westwood Greenway: Restoring native habitat to the Los Angeles urban environment
Charles Miller (Westwood Greenway, Los Angeles, CA, USA)
In 1875 the Los Angeles and Independence Railroad opened to transport goods from the Santa Monica Long Wharf to downtown Los Angeles. Over the next century, the rail line changed names several times while providing both passenger service (ending in 1953) and freight service (ending in 1988). The right-of-way included a 200-foot-wide stretch in the Westwood Gardens development, spanning over a quarter of a mile between Westwood Blvd and Overland Ave in west Los Angeles. As early as 1989, community advocacy began to restore light rail passenger service via this corridor. After voter approval, by 2008 this manifested into plans for what would become Metro’s E-Line, including a stop at Westwood Station on the aforementioned land. Original designs intended the undeveloped land to serve as parking. Neighborhood advocates came together to offer an alternative vision. The fallow plot of land originally included a spring-fed creek that the city buried into a storm drain in the 1950s. Stakeholders worked with academics, environmental groups, and transportation experts to design a way to daylight the creek, which gets polluted by street runoff, and utilize natural processes to clean the water before returning it on its journey toward the ocean. Native plant advocates joined the work to develop plans to return the entire project to 100% native habitat. Thus began a decade navigating multiple government bodies at the city, county, and state levels to create Westwood Greenway. This presentation will be the story of how that battle was fought by volunteers working in a system with entrenched resistance to native plants and the successes, failures, and ongoing challenges that others should expect in such projects. Today the all-native habitat of Westwood Greenway is a showpiece on the light rail system with the highest ridership in the country. The project can serve as a guide for urban native plant advocacy work throughout the state.
24.3 Growing together: How the Orange County Native Seed Partnership is working to improve access to native plant materials in Southern California
Matthew Garrambone (Irvine Ranch Conservancy, Irvine, CA, USA)
Efforts to restore California ecosystems depend on access to provenance specific native seed. These plant materials are often difficult for individual organizations and agencies to acquire in sufficient quantities, due to the advance planning and resources required. Regional seed partnerships can help overcome some of these common challenges and create economies of scale around seed collection and production that can benefit all participants. In Southern California, the Orange County Native Seed Partnership (OCNSP) is a coalition of local landowners, managers, restoration practitioners, seed collectors, and growers working to create a consistent and dependable supply of high quality and affordable native plant material that can support habitat restoration and enhancement at a scope and scale sufficient to increase the resilience, diversity, and functionality of natural areas in the region. They have been working since early 2021 to establish a partnership structure and develop a strategic plan that defines how seed will be collected, produced, and distributed. This presentation will provide an overview on the collaborative planning process, with a special focus on challenges that came up along the way, lessons learned, and key takeaways that will hopefully be valuable to those interested in developing seed partnerships in their own regions.
24.4 Closing the protection gap for Conglomerate Mesa and Centennial Flat
Jora Fogg (Friends of the Inyo, Bishop, CA, USA)
As a member of the Conglomerate Mesa Coalition, Friends of the Inyo will share the story of protecting Conglomerate Mesa, an area with a high concentration of rare plants that is continually threatened by gold mining. The Mesa is located between Death Valley National Park and Owens Dry Lake and is the traditional homelands of the Paiute Shoshone and Timbisha Shoshone. The area is repeatedly threatened by gold exploration companies, with K2 Gold being the 11th and most recent. Plant communities include creosote scrub and silver cholla, Joshua tree and pinyon–juniper woodlands, as well as sagebrush scrub. Many rare species, including several local endemics, occur here at the confluence of the eastern edge of the Mojave Desert and the western edge of the Great Basin. In February 2022, botanist Maria Jesus, the Center for Biological Diversity and CNPS submitted state and federal proposals to list Perityle inyoensis (Inyo rock daisy) as Threatened or Endangered. This species of Perityle is endemic to the southern Inyo Mountains, including Conglomerate Mesa. Other rare plants on the Mesa include the recently described Nemacladus inyoensis (Badger Flat threadplant), Hesperidanthus jaegeri (Jaeger’s hesperidanthus), and Eriogonum mensicola (Pinyon Mesa buckwheat) among others. Conglomerate Mesa and nearby Centennial Flat are a Yucca brevifolia var. brevifolia (western Joshua tree) refugia in the northern part of the species range. Joshua trees are threatened by both climate change and development and are currently being considered for listing by the state of California. Because this is one of the few places in California’s deserts where individuals are predicted to continue surviving and reproducing, it is crucial to protect this area for future scientific study. We will highlight the importance of working within coalitions of diverse backgrounds and present the case for permanently protecting this culturally and biologically significant landscape.
24.5 California’s Important Plant Areas | A Critical Tool for Collaborative Conservation Planning
Sam Young (California Native Plant Society, Oakland, CA, USA)
California is a globally significant biodiversity hotspot with more than 6,500 native plant taxa, more than a quarter of which are found nowhere else. The Golden State’s mild climates and scenic landscapes have also made California a highly desirable place to live, with a population close to 40 million people and growing. Demands for housing, resources, and a changing climate are placing increasing pressure on California’s unique flora. Regional scale planning efforts are being developed to help balance these needs. It is essential that botanical data and conservation value be well represented in these efforts. The California Native Plant Society’s (CNPS) Important Plant Area (IPA) Program seeks to identify the most important areas for preserving California’s botanical biodiversity heritage. Identification and protection of IPAs have been called out as essential components for biodiversity conservation both at home through the California Biodiversity Initiative, 30x30CA, and on the world stage through the Global Plant Conservation Strategy. IPAs represent a valuable data layer and planning tool that multi-stakeholder groups can use for multi-benefit conservation efforts, including maximizing biodiversity conservation benefit and resilience in an age of changing climate. IPAs will serve to centralize and synthesize plant biodiversity information such that it can clearly highlight where the greatest return on investment can be gained for preserving the key components of this botanical biodiversity hotspot.
Please join us in thanking our major sponsors for making this year’s event possible! Become a sponsor today.