Encompassing 24 square kilometers (9.2 sq. mi.) on the southern slopes of the San Rafael Mountains, the Sedgwick Reserve spans an elevational range of 500 meters (1,650 ft.) and is noted for both its large size and environmental heterogeneity. The reserve contains a major geologic fault system and two distinctive geologic formations: relatively young Paso Robles alluvium and much older Franciscan metamorphosed seafloor, including large areas of serpentine.
Diverse vegetation types include coast live oak forest, blue oak woodland, valley oak savannah, buckbrush chaparral, coastal sage scrub, grassland, willow riparian forest, serpentine outcroppings, and agricultural lands. The site contains major portions of two watersheds and a variety of localized wetland habitats, notably vernal pools.
The region has a rich Native American heritage, and at least one Middle Chumash habitation site estimated to be between 1,500 to 2,000 years old is located on site. The reserve’s large size enables research of varying scales on native ecosystems.
Numerous university courses, including botany, creative studies, geology, environmental studies, ecology, biogeography, soils, journalism, landscape painting.
Outreach programs in sciences, humanities, and the arts for regional elementary/secondary schools; field trips through partnership with Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Land Trust for Santa Barbara County, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Santa Ynez Valley Natural History Society, and other organizations, as well as numerous local artists.
- Oak regeneration: Ten-year collaborative project on the roles of livestock and grazing and other factors in regeneration of two oak species; valley oak population genetics.
- Native grasses: Competitive interactions between native perennial grasses and introduced annual grasses; perennial grass population genetics.
- Soil nutrient flow: Movement of nutrients in grassland systems, including below-ground processes.
- Floristic survey: Collection and identification of vascular and nonvascular plant species on site.
- La Kretz Center for Research at Sedgwick Reserve Long Term Prescribed Burn Experimental Program
- Sundowner Winds Experiment: Atmospheric conditions and fire risk research