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Current Projects

Current Projects

SHRE Proposals funded for 2021-2022
Title  Evaluating and Promoting Local Natives for the SF Bay Area California Garden
Primary Investigator

Andrea Williams, Director of Biodiversity Initiatives, California Native Plant Society

Project Summary

As gardening with native plants becomes increasingly popular, often the recommendations for “California native” disregard potential effects of cultivars, non-local species, or non-local genotypes of local species. Designers and homeowners do not know what plants are appropriate, or how to include natives in landscaping.
Agencies and gardeners look to CNPS for recommendations on which plants to grow and where to find them. We must provide appropriate plant palettes that not only prioritize horticultural value, but also reduce water use, support wildlife, and avoid harming wild plant populations. To ensure our recommendations are science-based, we will pilot creating regional plant lists through a regional pilot study in the Bay Area. These lists will combine data and expert input from ecologists, designers and horticulturalists, and take into account genetic considerations, flammability, appropriate climate, and other important features. The Bay Area pilot will allow us to build and refine the process. CNPS will work with nurseries to ensure plants on these lists are available to consumers, and promote the lists through partnerships with nurseries, water agencies, and CNPS chapters. A design planner add-on to Calscape will allow visualization of these species in a suite of fire-smart and locally appropriate examples.

Title Introduction and Testing of Texas Trees in Sacramento Valley Landscapes –
Final Planting Phase
Primary Investigator(s)

Emily Griswold, Director of GATEways Horticulture and Teaching Gardens, UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden

Abbey Hart, Nursery Special Projects Manager, UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden

Project Summary The urban canopy of the Sacramento Valley faces the unprecedented threat of climate change and growing demand for water conservation. In order to adapt to the failure of estimated 50% of currently used urban tree species, we must transition to drought-tolerant, future climate adapted species
(McBride & Lacán, 2018). Through the support of the Saratoga Horticultural Research Endowment over the last two years, the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden has achieved the first phase of a multi-year project to source, propagate and grow out 40 new tree taxa from the arid regions of west and
central Texas for planting trials in the Sacramento Valley. Following our successful propagation and initial field plantings, we seek a critical final year of funding to complete the planting and initial establishment care of the trial replicates in order to ensure that long term survival and monitoring can
be collected and shared. The results of these trials will inform production nurseries, horticulturists, urban forestry managers and home gardeners about the drought-tolerance and climate-readiness of 40 tree taxa for the Sacramento Valley region. The successful trees will also serve as a potential source for propagation materials for partners and for trials in other regions of California. 
Title Design Strategies for Encouraging the Use of Regionally Appropriate
California Native Plant Species in Green Storm-water Infrastructure
Primary Investigator(s)

Hunter Ottman, Co-Coordinator, CCUH SmartLandscape Initiative, UC Davis

Haven Kiers, Assistant Professor in Landscape Architecture & Environmental Design, UC Davis

Project Summary Native plant species have continued to exceed performance expectations in a variety of green infrastructure interventions. Unfortunately, there is an absence of comprehensive and publicly accessible lists of Regionally Appropriate California Native (RACN) plant species that can be used in Green
Storm-water Infrastructure (GSI), as well as models and frameworks for the selection process of native plant species in the Sacramento Valley region.
By studying the performance of these species in pre-existing projects and by identifying the factors which influence the design and plant selection process, we propose to develop an extensive catalogue of GSI “super-performers” alongside a design framework intended to encourage and promote the use of these species in GSI solutions.
The SmartLandscape internship team will test and evaluate the framework’s effectiveness in selecting an appropriate and effective plant palette for the “Smartscape III” bioswale on the UC Davis campus. This demonstration project will allow us to showcase and evaluate the practical application of our approach and framework. Our findings will be made available to the public for personal and professional use, and our design strategy may serve as a model for others to replicate and modify for their own regionally specific circumstances and ecosystems.