Many small, once-rural parcels of land, which were protected to conserve rare plants, now exist as isolated patches of habitat within suburban and urban matrices. Small parcel protection and management are sometimes considered a non-ideal use of scarce conservation resources, but for plants with narrowly-restricted ranges, remnant parcels may still hold significant conservation value. Managing small reserves can be more complicated than tending to a single large reserve; destructive trespass and encroachment are common challenges on small reserves, where edge effects impact a significant portion of the total protected area. Small properties also provide limited space for species to migrate and adapt in the face of climate change. The conservation values and management challenges relevant to many small reserves are exemplified here in a case study from Bear Valley in southern California where The Nature Conservancy has collaborated with various partners to protect rare plants on lands within the San Bernardino Mountains, which later became surrounded by residential development. The San Bernardino Mountains constitute a mere 1% of the land area of California, yet contain about 25% of all of the state's plant species. The history of rare plant conservation in Bear Valley and the current status of The Nature Conservancy's efforts in this region are discussed. In addition, strategies and management recommendations for successful rare plant conservation in the face of global urbanization are presented.
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Vol. 32 • No. 4