Santa Barbara Natural Reserve System
With seven reserves covering more than 33 square miles, the UC Santa Barbara Natural Reserve System is among the largest in the NRS. Great Basin sagebrush flats, tidal marsh, classic oak savannah, and California’s largest Channel Island are just a few of the habitats found in this diverse collection of reserves.
Carpinteria Salt Marsh
A maze of tidal channels and pickleweed flat sandwiched between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the ocean, the reserve is a remnant of the much larger wetland that is now the town of Carpinteria. Its unusually complete cross section of coastal habitat, ranging from high marsh and freshwater wetland to kelp beds and rocky reef, is vital habitat for an unusual mix of northern and southern shorebirds, fishes, and rare plants.
Coal Oil Point Natural Reserve
The restored dunes and coastal strand of the reserve serve as nesting grounds for the endangered western snowy plover, while a seasonally flooded coastal lagoon and coastal scrub attract thousands of migratory birds each year. A docent program protects the plover colony, while students from adjacent UC Santa Barbara participate in habitat restoration programs.
Kenneth S. Norris Rancho Marino Reserve
A spectacular stretch of coastal central California, the reserve encompasses over 100 acres of coastal prairie, one of five native Monterey pine forests, and is next door to one of the largest kelp beds in state waters. Its location at an upwelling center fosters tremendous marine richness, which in turn attracts scientists studying species such as southern sea otters and intertidal invertebrates
Santa Cruz Island Reserve
One of the world’s premier ecosystem restoration projects is returning this island to the tiny foxes, jumbo scrub jays, giant tree coreopsis, and other endemic species found nowhere else in the world. In a virtual wilderness with just a handful of facilities, the reserve enables scientists to study island ecosystems, the rich array of marine species found around its shores, and a well-preserve Native American archeological sites.
Nine square miles of oak savannah, oak forest, buckbrush chaparral, grassland, serpentine outcroppings, and riparian forest in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley.
Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory
Situated along the banks of a creek near Mammoth Lakes, the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory serves as a gateway to both the Sierra Nevada and the Great Basin. Sagebrush flats, riparian meadows, an aspen grove, and a network of artificial stream channels with flow controls attract scientists studying aquatic biology and the landscapes of the eastern Sierra.
The glacial moraine, glacial till, and pumice soils of Valentine Camp point to a past marked by both fire and ice. Today, the reserve’s spring-saturated meadow is rife with native plant species and ringed by an aspen grove, while Great Basin sagebrush grows on the moraine and evergreen forest shades upland slopes.