Conservation is one of CNPS’s core missions. In San Diego, our chapter's Conservation Committee works on conservation issues in San Diego and Imperial Counties.

What this involves, in practice, is reading and commenting on plans, environmental impact reports (EIRs), environmental impact statements (EISs), habitat conservation plans (HCPs), resource management plants (RMPs), natural community conservation plans (NCCPs) and others. We also attend meetings, give testimony, meet with stakeholders and lawmakers, work with the state conservation director (Greg Suba), the conservation chairs of other chapters, and our allies in the environmental community. On occasion, we make site visits. As a last resort, we join coalitions of other environmental groups to litigate when everything else has failed. 

This is unglamorous but terribly necessary work. American environmental law was created as an adversarial system, where developers on one side are opposed by advocates for public interests (that would be us), and elected officials have to decide the outcome of what is framed as conflict after both parties have gone through their parts of the process. California is very fortunate to have strong environmental laws, but the downside is that the fate of developments are normally decided by years of meetings, rather than dramatic protests, and there is a long, intricate process that all projects go through as they head towards completion. 

If you are interested in this kind of work, you are very, very welcome, as we always need more volunteers. We are happy to train you too, and we have developed training materials. If you know of a project that needs our involvement, we also welcome you. Our goal is to protect California's native plants, and where they are threatened, whether it is by development or climate change, we speak up and advocate for them. We can be reached by email at

If you want to attend a committee meeting, we meet the first Tuesday of every month, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Email for details.





Banner photo by Tom Oberbauer