California Native Plant Link Exchange
by Leah Messinger on October 01, 2003
When John Malpas inherited a small piece of land in Mendocino County, he discovered an overgrown tangle of exotic English ivy and blue gum eucalyptus obscuring an underlayer of dead native trees and shrubs. As Malpas began the challenging task of ascertaining which plants were native to his part of Northern California and then locating suppliers, he realized he wasn’t the only Californian struggling to find the tools to help restore his land. Thus was born the California Native Plant Link Exchange website. At www.cnplx.info you can search for plants by species or geographic region and find the California nurseries that stock them. Says Malpas, “I wanted software that would allow me to make a shopping list, showing all of the nurseries where each species was available.” The Native Nursery Neighborhood currently links to 44 nurseries and allows you to create—and save—personalized checklists.
Steve Bernstein, another ambitious California nature enthusiast, has also created a useful website—this one for Bay Area hikers, cyclists, and equestrians. Tired of purchasing trail books that contained few routes of interest, Bernstein created a resource with seemingly infinite opportunities for exploring the natural world. At www.switchbackmaps.com you’ll find an astounding 1.6 million possible routes to traverse in more than 20 county, regional, and state parks. To tailor your search, choose trails by length, difficulty, or route, and enter preferences such as kid-friendly locations, hikes that allow dogs, areas that are shadier, wheelchair accessibility, and so on. For a fee, the site also offers “NavKits” colored, shaded relief maps with information on site amenities and Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates for every twist and turn along the trail.