The NRS is committed to public service on many levels. From elementary school field trips to courses on botanical illustration to scientific lecture series, reserves host a range of learning opportunities for the general public. As authorities on regional ecosystems, NRS personnel inform and improve wildland planning and management efforts. As stewards of thousands of acres of marine and terrestrial protected areas, reserves help ensure the continued health of state ecosystems. Finally, the NRS influences conservation and land management practices well beyond state borders by participating in a broad array of international biodiversity and training programs.
Five NRS reserves have been designated as part of the United Nations Man and the Biosphere Programme.
The NRS helps California achieve fulfill its 30×30 conservation framework by helping to lead the California Biodiversity Network. Climate monitoring stations at NRS reserves are the backbone of the CBN Sentinel Site network tracking the pace of environmental change across California.
California Naturalist program
Multiple reserves host or serve as field trip locations for the California Naturalist program, which promotes stewardship of California’s environment and natural resources. Graduates of this UC Agriculture and Natural Resources course often serve as volunteers or docents supporting the education programs, citizen science projects, and outreach events of the reserves or other local conservation organizations.
Many hands are better than one. Citizen science projects at reserves enlist the help of volunteers to gather research data and advance our understanding of nature.
As repositories of ecological scholarship, reserves often provide scientific expertise and guidance for community initiatives ranging from fuels reduction management in forests to habitat conservation plans.
K-12 environmental education
Thousands of California schoolchildren take field trips to NRS reserves every year to experience and learn about the environment.
We connect experts, land managers, and policymakers from around the world to improve biodiversity protection in California and other Mediterranean-climate ecosystems.
Public access and events
Several NRS reserves are wholly or partly open to the public for recreation. Other reserves welcome the public to lectures, hikes, open houses, and other community events.
The University is a Trustee Agency with regard to sites within the Natural Reserve System (California Environmental Quality Act Guidelines, Section 15386 (d)). As one of only four designated Trustee Agencies, the University has a duty to steward reserves to preserve their long-term integrity on behalf of the people of California. (14 CCR 15386).
HOST: Classrooms without walls
The NRS HOST (Hands On for School Teachers) Program improved ecological education for hundreds of students from underprivileged high schools by training teachers in the field at NRS reserves. Curricula developed for the program are provided here as a resource.