Pritzlaff Conservation Symposium

The Honorable John C. Pritzlaff Conservation Symposium, established in 2012, honors John’s life-long commitment to conservation and serves to inspire others to understand the importance of conservation, take action, and help the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden reach its plant conservation leadership goals.

image of the Honorable John C. PritzlaffJohn C. Pritzlaff was a Botanic Garden Trustee from 1991 – 2003. He was a life-long servant and champion of the people and the environment. His political, personal, and volunteer activities speak clearly to his love of the environment and his desire to ensure that our greatest treasure – our natural environment – remains healthy for future generations. John recognized that botanic gardens are powerful agents for conservation. Individually and collectively, botanic gardens address a range of activities needed to help ensure the survival of threatened plant species.

Pritzlaff Conservation Award

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Presents the
2013 Honorable John C. Pritzlaff Conservation Symposium

Date: Friday, October 25 
Time: 1:00-5:00 pm

Location: Santa Barbara Public Library’s Faulkner Gallery
Also available via webinar, sponsored by Citrix

Register for the Symposium

Releasing the Constraints on Large-scale Ecological Restoration

Despite small-scale successes in many different ecosystems and the widely trumpeted need for science-based solutions to mitigate human impacts on vital resources, ecological restoration is still woefully underfunded and typically small in scale. Industry, governments and NGOs make bold policy statements underscoring the importance of long-term investment and systematic approaches, but these have been slow, at best, to materialize.

What exactly are the constraints on ecological restoration?
Are they technical, institutional, financial, or psychological?

The 2013 Pritzlaff Symposium speakers have a broad range of experience and backgrounds, from private consulting to the non-profit world, government to academia. Each will address these four constraints to restoration as they have experienced them. During the panel discussion to follow, we will all put our heads together to identify strategies for increasing the reach and effectiveness of restoration in the future.


Introduction by Steve Windhager, the Garden’s Executive Director

Keynote address by honoree Bruce Pavlik, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew:
Transitioning Restoration Ecology from Provincial to Global Practice

2:00-2:30 Phil Williams, University of California, Berkeley:
A Classic Conflict - Flood Control versus River Restoration

2:30-3:00 Christy Brigham, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and Cal State Northridge:
From Buried Bodies to Burn Site Restoration - Constraints, Lessons Learned and Future Challenges in Twenty Years of Ecological Restoration in the Nation's Largest Urban National Park

3:00-3:15: Break

3:15-3:45: Denise Knapp, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden:
Restoration in Paradise - The Advantages (and Constraints) of Working on an Island

3:45-4:15: Michael White, Tejon Ranch Conservancy and San Diego State University:
Ecological Restoration from a Conservation Practitioner's Perspective

4:15-5:00: Panel discussion


Bruce Pavlik, Ph.D.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Dr. Pavlik is Head of Restoration Ecology at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Since receiving his Ph.D. in Botany in 1982, he has been a long-time instructor at institutions both academic and government, from Mills College to the National Park Service Training Program, as well as vice president of the California Native Plant Society and series editor of the California Natural History Guide Series. 

image of littoral forest in MadagascarBruce’s research has focused on how to create or enhance plant populations in situ by understanding founding events and their demographic consequences. He recognizes that while dispersal, gene pool formation, reproduction and seed bank dynamics are central to restoration, they are greatly challenged by environmental stochasticity and the limitations imposed by human conservation institutions. His recent projects have emphasized the design, establishment and manipulation of populations and natural communities using field-based, experimental approaches within the context of a collaborative, decision-making framework ("adaptive management").   Most have been associated with grasslands and deserts, but unusual ecosystems (dunes, lakeshores, geothermal springs, serpentinite outcrops, vernal pools) have received special attention. Bruce is an author of over 40 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and eight books, including The California deserts: An ecological rediscovery and Oaks of California.

Bruce’s study systems include the species-rich littoral forest (>400 tree species) in Madagascar shown here, reduced to less than 10% of its former range and now scheduled for removal by titanium mining. What scientific, economic and institutional commitment will it take to restore littoral forest in Madagascar that we haven't tried in less complex US ecosystems?

Phil Williams, Ph.D.

Beatrix Farrand Distinguished Visiting Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at UC Berkeley

After completing his Ph.D. at University College London in hydraulics engineering, Phil Williams emigrated to the US in 1970 to work for Bechtel Corporation on the development of coal slurry pipelines. Witnessing the environmental destruction associated with this technology, his interest shifted to exploring better ways to manage environmental resources, particularly rivers and wetlands. After working at the Environmental Defense Fund and EIP Corporation in 1976 he founded Philip Williams and Associates [PWA] the first consulting firm in the western US focused on restoring rivers and wetlands. 

image of classic restoration: Riparian woodland versus flood control, Photo courtesy of DryStoneGarden.comOver the last 35 years Phil has directed over 400 interdisciplinary studies for public agency and nonprofit clients that have addressed ecologic restoration, and flood and water management problems in Pacific Coast watersheds from the river valley to the ocean. These include plans or designs for constructed restoration projects such as the Napa River Flood Protection Project, South Bay Salt Ponds Restoration Project, Crissy Field Wetland Restoration, and Redwood Creek at Muir Beach, that have received national awards. In 1985 Phil founded the International Rivers Network, an NGO dedicated to supporting efforts to protect rivers threatened by large dams, and served as its president until 2000. He is presently Senior Technical Advisor to Environmental Science Associates [ESA] that acquired PWA's practice in 2010.

Phil will be discussing a classic restoration conflict: Riparian woodland versus flood control. This conflict is illustated on Baxter Creek, where riparian woodland has been cleared for public safety.

Christy Brigham, Ph.D.

Chief of Planning, Science, and Resource Management for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and adjunct professor at both UCLA and Cal State Northridge

Christy Brigham's work has focused on restoring damaged lands, removing non-native invasive species, conserving rare plants, and protecting resources through prevention of future invasions. Her research interests include: understanding the relative impacts of invasive species on native biodiversity; identifying effective ecological restoration techniques; evaluating ecotypic differentiation in native species and the impact of this differentiation on restoration design; evaluating techniques to disrupt the cycle of weed recolonization in degraded lands; understanding the direct and indirect impacts of non-native species on threatened and endangered plants, impacts of fragmentation on native plants; and identifying effective tools for management and conservation of rare plants. 
image of Santa Monica National Recreation AreaThis photo, taken within the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, illustrates some of the major challenges that Christy and the National Park Service face: the heavily disturbed and invaded grassland in the foreground is difficult to restore, yet will infest the remnant native scrub and woodland habitat seen in the background if left untreated. These actions must be balanced with the needs of visitors such as those seen on the mid-left, while fires which recur every seven to 30 years complicate the issue. 

Denise Knapp, Ph.D. Candidate

Director of Conservation & Education at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

Image of Goat Harbor, Catalina IslandDenise Knapp has been active as a plant ecologist in southern California for sixteen years. Eight of those were on Santa Catalina Island, where she worked to protect and restore the Island’s plant populations and communities, and to understand their response to disturbances such as fire and introduced species. She is a doctoral candidate at UC Santa Barbara, where she is completing a dissertation investigating insect and other arthropod responses to invasion and habitat restoration. She has published on a wide range of topics, from ecosystem threats and restoration, to rare plant conservation, vegetation change, and conservation prioritization. Her experiences on the Channel Islands offer many lessons regarding restoration constraints – including both advantages and disadvantages of working on an island.

From this view of Goat Harbor, Catalina Island appears serene and trouble-free; but along with the advantages of working on an Island come some constraints as well. The California Channel Islands offer some interesting stories and lessons to identify and release the constraints on ecosystem restoration.

Michael White, Ph.D.

Conservation Science Director at the Tejon Ranch Conservancy and adjunct professor at San Diego State University

Michael White is the Conservation Science Director for the Tejon Ranch Conservancy and an Adjunct Professor in the San Diego State University Biology Department.  He earned his PhD from the Ecology Joint Doctoral Program at San Diego State University and UC Davis, and has over 20 years of professional experience in conservation planning, environmental regulations, and ecosystem assessment, and conservation management restoration.  Mike started his career in private-sector environmental consulting, conducting environmental impact assessments and preparing regulatory compliance documents, including Natural Community Conservation Planning programs and Habitat Conservation Plans.  In 1999 he joined the nonprofit Conservation Biology Institute (CBI) as a Senior Scientist and the San Diego Operations Director, where he worked on many large-scale conservation projects in California — projects ranging in size from nearly 300,000 acres to over 6 million acres.  He has worked with a variety of conservation landowners (e.g., The Nature Conservancy, City of San Diego, and County of San Diego) to develop resource management plans for conserved lands.  

image of forb-dominated grasslands at Tejon RanchMike was an advisor to the environmental groups that negotiated the landmark Tejon Ranch Conservation and Land Use Agreement (signed in 2008) that resulted in conservation of 90% of the 270,000-acre Tejon Ranch and the formation of the Tejon Ranch Conservancy to steward the conserved lands.  He was hired as the Tejon Ranch Conservancy’s first Science Director in 2009 and has been leading the development of the Conservancy’s first management plan for the conserved lands at Tejon Ranch. Shown here are native forb-dominated grasslands at Tejon Ranch. The native species cover of these grasslands and their habitat value for native wildlife vary dramatically over time in response to weather patterns and land management practices.

Mike and the Tejon Ranch Conservancy are exploring the feasibility and efficacy of land management practices to promote native species in these grasslands.