California State Grass
Adoption of the California State Grass
California became the 15th state to adopt an official state grass when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill No. 1226 into law on August 23, 2004.
By no means an overnight success story, proponents of purple needlegrass had been engaged in several years of advocacy, education, and supporter recruitment for the idea. In fact, the California-Pacific Section of the Society for Range Management had passed a resolution in the mid-seventies to designate purple needlegrass as the State grass.
The most recent efforts were lead by Frank Maurer, Executive Director of the Quail Ridge Wilderness Conservancy (QRWC), in Davis, California. The Reserve, overlooking Lake Berryessa in Napa County, is one of the few nearly unscathed natural areas left in the California Coast Ranges and its 2,000 acres serve as one of 35 reserves in the state designated as a natural reserve of the University of California.
An impressive array of organizations was amassed to support Mr. Maurer’s efforts by the time the legislation was proposed.
In an October, 2003 meeting of the Board of Directors of the California-Pacific Section of the Society for Range Management at Hunewell Guest Ranch in Bridgeport, members requested that Edie Jacobson compose a resolution or letter of support for the purple needlegrass and forward it to Mr. Maurer at the Quail Ridge Wilderness Conservancy. At that time, the California Native Grass Association (CNGA) and the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) were behind the effort as well.
Why purple needlegrass as the official state grass? The Quail Ridge Wilderness Conservancy offers some reasons:
State Senator Mike Machado introduced, and read for the fist time, Senate Bill No. 1226, as sponsored by the Quail Ridge Wilderness Conservancy, in the California State Senate on February 11, 2004. Co-authors were Assembly members Patricia Wiggins and Lois Wolk.
Senate analysis reported that SB 1226 made the following findings and declarations with respect to purple needlegrass:
As background, they offered:
As of May 5, 2004, the following organizations had registered official support for the measure to adopt purple needlegrass as California’s official state grass. Hundreds of letters of encouragement were received as well from private citizens throughout the state.
On May 10, 2004, Senate Bill No. 1226 was passed unanimously in the Senate and passed to the General Assembly.
With no opposition, the legislation passed through the General Assembly by early August and was sent to Governor Schwarzenegger for his signature on August 12.
The following information was excerpted from the California Government Code, Title 1, Division 2, Chapter 2.
CALIFORNIA GOVERNMENT CODE
425.10. Purple needlegrass, or Nassella pulchra, is the official State Grass.
Source: California State Legislature:California Law, Government Code, (http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html), February 15, 2008.
Nassella pulchra (Hitchc.) Barkworth, Purple needlegrass: United States Department of Agriculture: Entry in the Natural Resources Conservation Service's PLANTS Database.
Nassela pulchra, Purple needlegrass: The Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers and Native Plants.
CalPhotos Photo Database: Photographs, from various sources, of Nassella pulchra. CalPhotos is a project of the Biodiversity Sciences Technology group (BSCIT), part of the Berkeley Natural History Museums at the University of California, Berkeley.
Some native and naturalized grasses: John Rawlings blog entry: purple needlegrass, Nassella pulchra, Mar–June, Native. Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, Stanford University.
Nassella: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Nassella pulchra: Integrated Taxonomic Information System Standard Report Page: Nassella pulchra.
State Grasses: Complete list of official state grasses from NETSTATE.COM.
Agnes Chase's First Book of Grasses: Highly recommended for "wannabe" botanists and plant lovers, this book divides the complexity of grasses into twelve relatively simple lessons. Paperback: 127 pages, Publisher: Smithsonian; 4th Edition (April 17, 1996)
How To Identify Grasses: And Grasslike Plants: There is no easy was to identify grasses. And no one understood this better than H.D. Harrington, who observed thousands of students struggle and learn. His clear, concise, and well-organized guide will continue to be a basic and essential text for use in the classroom or in the field. The book contains over 500 drawings and an illustrated glossary. Paperback: 164 pages, Publisher: Swallow Press; 1st ed edition (January 1, 1977)
Manual of the Grasses of the United States Volume 1: Volume 1 of the basic study of American grasses, both indigenous and escapes, cultivated and wild. Over 1400 species. Full descriptions, information. Total in set: over 1100 maps, illustrations. "A definitive work invaluable to both amateur and professional botanists." -- American Reference Books Annual. Paperback: 525 pages, Publisher: Dover Publications; 2 edition (June 1, 1971)
Manual of the Grasses of the United States Vol. 2: Volume 2 of the basic study of American grasses, both indigenous and escapes, cultivated and wild. Dover Publications.
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