Channel Islands Chapter
Conservation Issue: Locally Important Plant Species List
Created: 15 July 2014; Last updated: 4 January 2017

Locally Important Species of Ventura County

Ventura County created a formal list of Locally Important Species in support of the Ventura County General Plan (Goal 1.5.1: identifies Locally Important Species as significant biological resources to be protected from incompatible land uses and development).   To ensure consistent identification of Locally Important Species, standard criteria for Locally Important Plants and Animals were developed in 2005 by the County biologist and local biologists, with botanists working on the criteria for plants, and the first list contained 161 taxa by 2007.

The criteria were formally established in the Biological Resources Section of the Initial Study Assessment Guidelines, which was adopted by the Ventura County Board of Supervisors in 2011.   The Ventura County Planning Division is responsible for updating the lists of plants and animals that meete these criteria on an annual basis (Channel Islands populations are excluded from Locally Important Species consideration because these lands lie wholly outside County jurisdiction).   There are two basic criteria used to determine if a plant species is Locally Important: 1 - Five or fewer occurrences (populations) within Ventura County, and 2 - declining rangewide.   The Locally Important Plant list was last updated in 2012 and included 136 plant taxa.   The list was created with significant input from local botanists, nearly all of whom are CNPS members, including: David Magney, Rick Burgess, Deiter Wilken, Cher Batchelor, Tarja Sagar, Wayne Ferren, Jr., Mary Carroll, Mary Meyer, David Torfeh, David Brown, Mark Elvin, Stephen McCabe, and Andrea Adams-Morden.

Ventura County Planning Locally Important Species List webpage

Since the list must be updated annually, CNPS member and local botanist David Magney submitted a long list of additional plants to consider for the 2013-2014 update.   The technical review committee, made up of mostly those botanists listed above, has propose adding 152 new plant taxa to the list and removing 2 previously included taxa.   A total of 286 plant taxa are included in the draft list for 2014.   Many more taxa meet the rarity criteria, but it takes a lot of time and effort to research the current and historic distribution of each one, so the review ended with those plant genera starting with A through E, such as Abronia through Erysimum.   Next year we will try to finish the alphabet.

Opponents to Locally Important Species

As you might imagine, a small segment of the Ventura County community is opposed to conservation of native plants. One group stands out, CoLab of Ventura County, which is made up of mostly of property-right extremists that do not want any restrictions put on them on what they can do with their land.   Most of the members of VC CoLab are farmers and ranchers who own large blocks of land.   VC CoLab has tried to hire local biologists to fight against the establishment of Locally Important Species lists but no biologist living and/or working in Ventura County would work for them.   They have only been able to hire wildlife biologists from San Diego and Sacramento to try to attach our work.   Needless to say, they failed. Not once has anyone presented evidence that the species on the list do not meet the rarity criteria, not once. The poor attempts on two different species, Allium praecox and Malacothrix glabrata, have failed because the wildlife biologists didn't use science in making their arguments on behalf of VC CoLab.

Many non-scientists fail to learn about, or care, that California is a biodiversity hotspot, and Ventura County is right in the middle of that hotspot.   This area is unique in so many ways, and it show up in the diversity of species and habitats found here.   Our biodiversity is something to be celebrated, embraced, and protected.   Any projects that may harm that specialness, this biodiversity hotspot, should be give very careful review to make sure that what is proposed is compatible with the environment, and the humans that live here.   The members of VC CoLab are only looking out for their own selfish interests and do not value what the rest of the citizens of Ventura County and California have for the environment.

Botanical Resources of Ventura County

The botanical resources of Ventura County have been summarized by David Magney, which is published on his Ventura County Flora website, as well on this website.

Special thanks to the late Carlin Moyer for the beautiful illustration of Toyon on this page.

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