Braunton’s Milkvetch (Astragalus brauntonii) is an endangered species that is a perennial herb, endemic to Ventura, Los Angeles and Orange Counties and is rare throughout its range. A small population was discovered on private land after a fire prompted the long-dormant seeds to sprout. Since the population was not discovered until after the environmental review process was completed and development had already been approved, the landowner worked with regulatory agencies to find a solution to save the plants. Once an agreement was worked out, CIR was hired by the landowner to carefully dig up all of the plants within that population, salvage the seed bank, transplant the mature plants into pots, take care of them over the summer, and then to transplant them into a wild protected location in Thousand Oaks and to maintain them there in the wild.
In February 2017, the CIR team salvaged individuals of Braunton’s Milkvetch and brought them to the CIR native plant nursery in Camarillo, where our Nursery Manager Kelle Green and Nursery Technician Sarah Spellenberg, with the help of volunteers, gently cared for the plants, giving them shade, water, soil and pruning (also fondly known as “haircuts”). After we salvaged all of the plants, our Project Manager, Daniel Hart, salvaged the seed bank in the topsoil and distributed it on to a nearby protected site in Thousand Oaks that is owned by the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency (COSCA).
Now, in late November 2017, we are working with COSCA to establish these plants as a new population on the same permanently protected property owned by COSCA. As we write this, our crew is busy setting up a drip irrigation system and planting the plants. We will be taking care of them over the next five years, and look forward to telling you how they are doing in future newsletters.