<b>EXTENDED IDENTITY:</b> UCSB’s Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Lab is located near Convict Lake (above), close to Mammoth. “These are like satellite identities for the UC system,” said UCSB NRS director Trish Holden. “They have really great value not only in their mission of research and education, but by simply reminding people that the UC system is out there and working on behalf of the state in all these locations.”
Richie DeMaria

A half century ago, a University of California professor named Ken Norris realized that, as urbanization intensified across the Golden State, natural scientists like himself would steadily lose places to conduct research. The young UCLA professor quickly won the support of UC president Clark Kerr, and in 1965, the UC Regents forever preserved seven properties in the name of research and education. The Natural Reserve System (NRS), as it became known, now features 39 reserves, representing almost every one of California’s incredibly unique and sensitive ecosystems.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the NRS, and UCSB ​— ​which runs seven reserves, the most out of any campus ​— ​is hosting a series of events throughout October to celebrate. Among other highlights and open houses, there is a talk with NRS Director Peggy Fiedler at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History on October 1, a SCAPE art show at the Montecito Country Club October 24-25, and a harvest dinner at the Sedgwick Reserve on November 7. See nrs.ucsb.edu/events for a full calendar.

To coincide with the anniversary, The Santa Barbara Independent brings you this collection of articles, including interviews with leaders, reflective nature essays, and profiles of both special places and people. And stay tuned for more NRS pieces from around the state throughout our October issues, as well as at independent.com/NRS.

“As time goes on and the state’s population grows, the reserves will become more and more precious…We can’t know now what scientific questions might arise, but we can make sure the resources to answer those questions are available. What we’re doing is opening the doors and providing the opportunities for those who follow in our footsteps”. — Ken Norris, NRS founder

Interviews with NRS Leaders

• University of California Natural Reserve System 101: UC NRS Director Peggy Fiedler explains the statewide research-education-conservation system.

• Connecting Through Climate Change: How the UC Natural Reserve System is becoming California’s canary in the global-warming coal mine.

• UCSB’s Statewide NRS Impacts: Director Trish Holden discusses how campus activities are strengthening the whole UC system.

“I doubt that I’ll do anything more important in my term of office…If any place in the world had one of everything, it was California. It was worth preserving some of this great variety….The Regents and I were impressed that an awful lot of California was just disappearing, and disappearing forever.” — Clark Kerr, UC President who greenlit the NRS program

Reserve Profiles

• Lyndal’s Land – Santa Cruz Island Reserve: Meet the man who’s run one of the most diverse reserves for nearly 50 years.

• Rancho Marino Reserve: A largely untouched seaside paradise in the woods west and south of Cambria.

• Sedgwick Reserve, Then and Now: Past, present, and future of this bucolic Santa Ynez Valley property.

• Growing Up on the Carpinteria Salt Marsh: A life of learning from one of the healthiest marshes in Southern California.

• SNARL Knows Snow: Studying water, frogs, and more at the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Lab and Valentine Camp.

• Discovering Coal Oil Point: A longtime resident explores this birding mecca for the first time.

• High Times on the White Mountains: Studying the stars, sky, oxygen deprivation, and more at 14,000 feet.

• Diving into Big Sur’s Big Creek: Understanding this dramatically compressed series of Big Sur habitats.


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