New Book Celebrates the NRS

cover of The Environmental Legacy of the UC Natural Reserve System. Photo of Eel River, Angelo Coast Range Reserve, by Christopher Woodcock

There is far more to science than can be discovered indoors. “The most basic rules of the world—the ones we all live by—are ecological rules. You can’t study them or even perceive them very well in a classroom or laboratory,” wrote Kenneth S. Norris, acclaimed professor of natural history at the University of California, Santa Cruz .

To make natural environments available for study and learning, Norris helped found a network of protected ecosystems across crowded California. From seven reserves established in 1965, the system has grown to 38 reserves encompassing over 750,000 acres of deserts, wetlands, vernal pools, oak woodlands, marine shoreline and conifer forests.

Today, thousands of students and scientists visit UC Natural Reserves each year to study, conduct research, and observe nature firsthand. Work at reserves ranges from tracking wild elephant seal migrations, to analyzing the origins of geological formations, to monitoring the effects of climate change on plants, animals, and the atmosphere.

A new book celebrating the NRS is now available from the University of California Press. The Environmental Legacy of the UC Natural Reserve System describes the unique blend of conservation, field science, and environmental education that is a hallmark of the system. These qualities have made the NRS a vital part of the University of California for nearly 50 years

“This is the first book to describe the largest university-administered reserve system in the world,” says Peggy Fiedler, Director of the NRS and coeditor of the volume. “It’s a tribute to the men and women who have cared for these landscapes and made the system such a valuable resource for the people of California.”

Chapters discuss the history of the system, how reserves are selected and managed, and why the NRS has been a training site for generations of field scientists. Other sections contain detailed descriptions of the natural and human history of each reserve. Images by Ansel Adams, Galen Rowell, talented large-format photographer Christopher Woodcock, and other artists illustrate scenic reserve lands and native wildlife. Like the UC Natural Reserve system itself, the book provides a deeper understanding of the intrinsic value of California’s natural landscapes.

The Environmental Legacy of the UC Natural Reserve System
University of California Press
Hardcover, 304 pages
ISBN: 9780520272002
February 2013

For more information, or to order your copy of the book, go to