Slugs, Gauchos toast NRS 50th

UC Santa Barbara and UC Santa Cruz raised their glasses to the 50th anniversary of the NRS at alumni reunions May 16-17. Banana slugs, snowy plovers, and the dedication of a natural history center honoring NRS founder Kenneth S. Norris played starring roles in these tributes to the largest university-administered network of natural reserves in the world.

Alumni Weekend 2015 / UC Santa Cruz

Saturday festivities got underway with a group hike on the UCSC campus reserve. A group of 60 alumni and others wound through the redwood forests and broad meadows that surround campus buildings. Gage Dayton, who oversees the campus reserve as well as UCSC’s four NRS reserves, led one group of 20 hikers. Banana slugs were spotted in the duff, and turning over a rotted log revealed a slender salamander. Dayton pointed out clues to forest history, tree stumps indicating past logging, the browned leaves of bay trees suffering from sudden oak death, and shared why redwood forests look so uncluttered—the trees forgo lower branch growth in favor of extending their canopies toward the sun.

The afternoon saw the dedication of the new Kenneth S. Norris Center for Natural History, which commemorates the founder of the UC Natural Reserve System. The roughly 300 attendees heard remarks by Ken’s son Richard, a professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Norris recounted a paper he’d discovered amid his late father’s belongings. Entitled “How to be a good professor,” the paper underlined the importance of being gracious, listening to others, taking time with people, and building coalitions.  Ken Norris practiced those habits every day, Dick Norris said, and his ability to connect with people and build coalitions were instrumental in establishing the NRS. Posters on the walls showcased all five of UCSC’s NRS reserves, examined skulls, pelts, acorns, and other reserve artifacts.

Related link:

A conversation with Norris Center Director Chris Lay, UCSC Environmental Studies

All Gaucho Reunion / UC Santa Barbara

Wine-sipping alumni at the Taste of UCSB event flocked to the Natural Reserve System booth Saturday to discover more about the NRS’s living library of ecosystems and the five NRS reserves administered by the campus. UCSB NRS Director Trish Holden, Associate Director Sue Swarbrick, and Development Director Gay Larsen staffed the booth and chatted with visitors. On Sunday, Coal Oil Point Reserve Director Cristina Sandoval led a birding hike to spot some of the nearly 300 species of birds that have been recorded on site.