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Plants of Mather Field

Mather Field Vernal Pool Tours

The Magic of Vernal Pools

mather18Eva Butler, the Sacramento Valley Chapter CNPS Mather Field Preservation Campaign Chair explains what attracts people to the vernal pools at Mather Field and why CNPS docents volunteer their precious time to bring the public to explore them.

“In April the vernal pools at Mather Field will start to slip into something more alluring. While many have been dressing in their multi-colored, seasonal fashions for well over 100,000 years, we will welcome them as if it were their first time in costume. For the many visitors that we will introduce to the pools this year, this will be their first encounter with these rare beauties, which otherwise masquerade in the drab gold and browns of summer. The pleasure of making those new introductions is what keeps docents coming back each spring - to lead tours, to share this place and to witness its impact on both new and returning visitors. Guiding others gives us a recurring chance to renew our own personal connection to this landscape, ticking off the hours it takes to protect its future, against the millions of years that led to its creation.”

Over the past 10 years the CNPS Mather Field vernal pool docents have had the pleasure of hearing the ohhhs and ahhhs of thousands of visitors as they discover Sacramento’s vernal pools for the first time. After exploring Sacramento’s best kept secret, many return year after year to see nature renew its colorful kaleidoscope of annual wildflowers in the vernal pool prairie.

If you’d like to join this fun and friendly bunch of volunteers docents, CNPS will provide everything you need to start down the trail. As you follow in the footsteps of other inspired and inspiring docents, you’ll have all the help you need to build your competence and confidence. With our self-paced docent training CD and a complimentary copy of Carol Witham’s phenomenal Field Guide to the Mather Field Vernal Pools, you’ll soon join the ranks of best dang docents on the prairie!

To get on the list of new trainees, please contact (916) 364-2437 and provide your name, email address, home phone number (and cell number, if possible).

Status Update on the Mather Field Vernal Pool Conservation Campaign

Advocates for preservation of the Mather Field vernal pools should be most gratified to know that the benefits of nine years of public outreach and education have paid dividends. In the prolonged landuse decision making process for Mather Field, Carol Witham and Eva Butler have leveraged the power of your engaged public to move toward creation of a preserve of approximately 1000 acres at Mather Field. While many steps lie ahead, progress is generally positive. None of it would have been possible without the commitment of the CNPS docents to this noble cause. Hip, Hip, Horray for you all!!

NEW CRITICAL HABITAT DESIGNATION On August 11, 2005, the USFWS published a new Critical Habitat final rule [05-15569.pdf; 1.5 meg PDF] for 11 plants and 4 crustaceans endemic to vernal pools. Some areas previously excluded for economic reasons are now designated as Critical Habitat. Other areas are newly excluded. A total of 858,846 acres are now designated as Critical Habitat.