The rare, thread-leaved brodiaea have attracted attention for the past 30 years, surreptitiously pushing the soil of an unspoiled canyon just below the San Gabriel Mountains, its slender stem crowned with fragile purple pedals splaying skyward.
But the woman responsible for the miraculous rebirth of this endangered plant – environmental activist, educator and curator Ann Croissant – has rarely taken center stage. She loved nature, and in particular, the diversity of native plants, but she avoided attention, instead instilling the joy of playtime in others.
âShe was the educational and environmental mother that I always wanted to have. She hardly spoke of herself. It was always about being there, for the environment and for others, âsaid Angelica M. GonzÃ¡lez, former conservation program manager for the Sierra Club Angeles Chapter, her voice breaking as news of the death broke. of his mentor flooded his senses.
Crescent died on June 26 of complications from lung cancer. She was 81 years old. Crescent, botanist and Earth scientist, has spent most of his life in Glendora, purchasing hills for preservation and leading tours of the Miracle Flower. She has also taught at Cal Poly Pomona (1978-1987), Mount San Antonio College (1984-1987) and Azusa Pacific University (1987-1997) and has been a science curriculum consultant since 1978 for schools in Los Angeles and San Bernardino County.
She formed the Glendora Community Conservancy in 1991, and the association purchased the property containing the brodiaea in the Glendora foothills, preventing construction of a 30-unit housing project. The discovery of Brodiaea filifolia stopped the project and made history.
âShe was the reason this trail was preserved,â her daughter, Polly Clements, said on July 1.
The blue-purple flower is so rare that it only grows in a few places – the Colby Trail at the terminus of Lorraine Avenue, and nearby Bluebird Ranch, a later conservation purchase – and are the only places in Los Angeles County where the plant exists. The federally listed threatened species sometimes grows on the Santa Rosa Plateau in Riverside County, and less frequently in parts of Orange and San Diego counties.
But Glendora’s location has grown more species than anywhere, including a superflower of 6,900 plants in 2012 and 8,500 plants in 2017.
The hills are alive
Movements to preserve the foothills bordering the Angeles National Forest have taken many forms. Some cities, like Monrovia, have imposed themselves to buy land to be preserved. Croissant did this by forging partnerships and acquiring grants.
His efforts led to the conservation taking possession of 700 hillside acres, said Jackie Wall Doornik, who served on the board of directors for Crescent’s second conservation, the San Gabriel Mountains Regional Conservancy. This group, led by Crescent, renovated the nature center of the county’s Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area, where it also made trails among native plants and created a waterless garden.
âThe whole mountain side here in Glendora would have been housing if it hadn’t been for Ann,â Doornik said.
Crescent also helped shape management plans for the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, established by President Barack Obama in 2014. Doornik is the SGMRC representative in the ad hoc collaboration that worked with the US Forest Service to create a plan for the monument.
Croissant also served on the board of directors of the Claremont Hills Conservation Corporation from 2009 to 2018.
Not on rewards
Croissant has presented research for the Urban Land Institute and received numerous awards, including one from the American Planning Association for his work on “Reconnecting the San Gabriel Valley: A Planning Approach for the Creation of Interconnected Urban Wildlife Corridor Networks” , in 2000. She received the Glendora Community Coordinating Council Humanitarian Award in 2012.
But those who worked on land preservation projects or were affiliated with environmental groups said she didn’t focus on rewards, but relationships.
âShe made you feel good on the Earth we live on,â Doornik said. “Ann saw the Earth and I loved seeing it through her eyes.”
Jeff Michelson, 54, whose property is near the Colby Trail and Bluebird Ranch and is a member of the Sierra Club Angeles Chapter, recalled an October 2024 project that involved planting oak seeds in the canyons.
âAnn has always been able to get people involved, even if you don’t want to. She said, âJeff, we need mulch and acorns. So I had mulch brought to the site and she invited some young students from Cal Poly Pomona to help. We planted the seeds in the ground and put mulch on them. Twelve months later, my God! The trees were starting to grow, âhe said.
Crescent combined what some have called conservative environmentalism, its Christian faith, and a hands-on, local approach.
Gonzalez recalled his clash with the Sierra Club. She has sometimes been criticized for not agreeing with the group’s political positions. âShe never liked bureaucracy. She really wanted to empower the movements with the base, âshe said.
Family, people mattered
Crescent grew up in eastern Kentucky. Her parents were teachers but owned grocery stores where she worked when she was young. After earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado in biology and earth sciences, and a master’s degree in botany from the University of Wisconsin, she completed her doctorate. in 1991 in curriculum and teaching / higher education and botany at USC.
She moved to Glendora with her husband, Gerald Croissant, who taught agronomy at Cal Poly Pomona. Together, with photos by Shirley DeBraal, they wrote: “Wildflowers of the San Gabriel Mountains” in 2007.
She is survived by her husband, Gerald, 84; her daughter Polly Clements, 50; her son, Brian Croissant, 56; and her daughter, Carol White, 46.
Clements, who said she was heartbroken over the loss of her mother, has yet to schedule a memorial service, she said. Those interested in leaving their memories or staying in touch can email him at: email@example.com.
Last week she received emails and even met people who remembered hiking the Colby Trail with her mom. Clements said that in the last week of her life, she was still typing on her computer trying to answer emails and connect people to a project.
âEveryone has a goal, a talent,â she said. It was all done out of love, from her heart and for the stewardship of the earth and her service to God, âsaid Clements.