The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

May 7, 2014

The return of the natives

OAK GLEN, Calif. — Protecting the beauty and biodiversity of landscapes is a life’s work for men like David Myers. If the lanky naturalist takes you sightseeing, you’d best wear sturdy boots.

Myers, 62, is executive director and a co-founder of the nonprofit Wildlands Conservancy. The sightseeing on this day will be of the organization’s new garden, one of the largest in the United States dedicated to native conifers and plants.

The Southern California Montane Botanic Garden, which opens May 10, is designed to be a haven for tourists and a center for education programs promoting the protection of the region’s flora and fauna.

“Let me show you the good stuff,” Myers said, leading the way into a grove thick and dark with conifers and carpeted with primrose and ferns.

Framed by soaring peaks and watered by year-round streams cascading through overlapping biological zones — coniferous forests, chaparral, meadows and deciduous woodlands — the 300-acre expanse in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains is home to bobcats, songbirds and arboreal salamanders.

Along a trail to the prized trees, Myers stopped abruptly. “Look up,” he said, smiling and pointing at the swaying spires of incense cedars and Jeffrey pines more than 100 feet in height. “This garden is going to be our bully pulpit for conservation,” he said.

The conservancy, which has raised funds to preserve nearly 1,280 square miles of mountain and desert landscapes across the state, will charge no admission and hopes to attract 50,000 children a year. The garden is on Oak Glen Road, north of Interstate 10 and about 15 miles northeast of Redlands.

The diversity on display took eons to evolve.

Tim Krantz, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Redlands and an authority on the flora of the San Bernardino Mountains, says that during the last ice age, about a million years ago, the San Bernardino, San Gabriel and Santa Ynez mountains, which together comprise one of only two ranges that run east-west in the United States, provided refuge for a surprising variety of plants, many of them found nowhere else.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news
  • sniper wife pic Jurors start considering Ventura case ST. PAUL — An attorney for Jesse Ventura asked a federal jury Tuesday to award the former Minnesota governor millions of dollars in damages for what he claimed is a lie in a memoir by the late military sniper Chris Kyle. Ventura testified during the

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Target debuts shopping app "In a Snap" will recognize images

    July 22, 2014

  • Feds to monitor Newark police Probe found pattern of unconstitutional policing

    July 22, 2014

  • Thousands without power due to storms MCGREGOR (AP) — Thousands of Minnesotans are without electricity after powerful storms moved through central and northeastern Minnesota. Strong winds of 50 to 70 mph knocked down trees and power lines overnight Monday. Minnesota Power and Lake Count

    July 22, 2014

  • Ellison urges Minn. to aid Central American minors ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota congressman is leading efforts to bring more unaccompanied children fleeing Central America to the state. But, immigration advocates and nonprofit groups that serve refugees are concerned Minnesota might not be abl

    July 22, 2014

  • Detroit retirees back pension cuts by a landslide DETROIT (AP) — A year after filing for bankruptcy, Detroit is building momentum to get out, especially after workers and retirees voted in favor of major pension changes just a few weeks before a judge holds a crucial trial that could end the largest

    July 22, 2014

  • Closings set in Ventura's suit over sniper's book ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Closing arguments are set in former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura's defamation lawsuit against the estate of "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle. The case is expected to go to the federal jury in St. Paul after lawyers for both

    July 22, 2014

  • American Jews, other 'lone soldiers' serve Israel The two Americans killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip followed in the footsteps of scores of Jews from around the world who have volunteered to fight for Israel. Israel calls them the lone soldiers: They are men and women in the prime of their live

    July 22, 2014

  • 9 TC Rainbow stores to close Supermarkets to lose in Cottage Grove, Shoreview, Inver Grove Heights, Apple Valley, Blaine, Bloomington, Coon Rapids, Maple Grove and Savage

    July 21, 2014

  • Accelerants fuel fire; 2 rescued ST. PAUL — Two brothers were rescued from the upper floor of a St. Paul duplex in a fire that was fueled by cylinders of gas, oxygen and other accelerants. Authorities say the two were taken to Regions Hospital where one man is in critical condition

    July 21, 2014