The Riverside-Corona Resource Conservation District (RCRCD) works with the public and agencies to help provide native plants for habitat restoration, landscaping and other types of planting projects. RCRCD propagates plants at its native plant nursery for a variety of re-vegetation projects within the District and has refrigerated seed storage facilities for locally collected seed. The RCRCD also helps to train others in production and use of native plants in ways that are beneficial to the natural biological diversity of our southern California region.
Tools for Providing Genetically Appropriate Plant Materials for Southern California Ecoregions:
More and more, land managers are striving to place the right plants, in the right place, at the right time, to ensure sustainability of our natural resources. The RCRCD has partnered with local and federal agencies, restoration companies, universities, land conservancies, non-profit groups, and seed companies to develop lists of native plants of primary importance to seeding and re-vegetation projects in southern California. Partners identified a critical need for information to help guide them in the selection of species and to identify where to collect genetically appropriate seeds for particular planting sites. The RCRCD is creating plant profiles to fill this need. The profiles include information that will help guide choices of species and seed sources for restoration and other native planting projects within sensitive habitats and conservation lands, with a focus on species that form the backbone of coastal sage scrub, low-elevation chaparral, and alluvial scrub plant communities.
Native Plant Profiles
Over time, partners have increasingly expressed concern that drought, frequent fire, land development, and removal of lands from seed collection activity have resulted in diminishing seed resources. There is a need for more strategic collection, storage, and use of seeds as well as a need to farm some species to make appropriately adapted seed more available. Sourcing appropriate plant material for seed increase and restoration within the heterogeneous and fragmented landscape of southern California is a task further complicated by climate change. For a subset of the profiles, information from recent work by Dr. Arlee Montalvo, Senior Plant Restoration Ecologist (RCRCD), Dr. Erin Riordan, Postdoctoral Intern (RCRCD) and Assistant Project Scientist (University of California Los Angeles), and Dr. Jan Beyers, Research Ecologist, US Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW), on how climate change is projected to affect species distributions was included. They generated species distribution models and modeled regional patterns of suitable habitat under baseline (1951–1980) and midcentury (2040–2069) climate conditions for 44 focal plant taxa under five future climate scenarios. The profile and modeling projects were funded by the US Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region Plant Materials Program, the US Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station, and the RCRCD. The resulting publication, Using species distribution models with climate change scenarios to aid ecological restoration decision making for southern California shrublands ( (Riordan, Erin C.; Montalvo, Arlee M.; Beyers, Jan L.), can be downloaded or viewed here. The high resolution version of the paper allows one to zoom into the maps so you can see the details of the projected species distributions. This version can be downloaded from the PSW website.
For comments, corrections, offers of photographs or additional data, or offers of funding to support more profile work, please contact Arlee Montalvo ((redacted)).
Download Native Plant Profiles Here...
Native Seed Collections
Staff stores special collections of seeds for projects in two walk-in cold rooms that were renovated in 2013. The temperature and relative humidity are controlled in the storage rooms so that seeds remain viable for longer. The stored seeds are used primarily to propagate plants for restoration, water quality, and bank stabilization projects. The RCRCD can store a limited amount of seed for use by cooperators. For example, the RCRCD stored seed farmed by the Irvine Ranch Conservancy for several years while their storage facility was under development. Their native plant seeds will be used for the Conservancy’s future restoration projects.
The RCRCD staff surveys sites for potential seed collection and applies for permits to collect on public lands. Staff conducts seed collection to reflect the genetic diversity of natural populations. The extended drought has made it difficult to find and collect viable seeds. It has become increasingly important to collect and store seeds during relatively high rainfall years.
Alluvial Scrub, Sage Scrub, and Chaparral Native Plant Materials Project
Staff collects information about native plants and the Restoration Ecologist prepares plant profiles that focus on use of plants for habitat restoration. The collaborative project was funded by the USDA Forest Service Native Plant Materials Program and a Pacific Southwest Research Station internal grant program. Staff is also working on species distribution modeling and climate change forecasting of future habitat suitability for many shrub species to help guide the sourcing of plant materials for restoration projects. Results are being incorporated into outreach materials to be made available online.