To commemorate the centennial of the National Park Service, The Current launches a series examining UCSB's Natural Reserve System, taking an in-depth look at the seven sites that UCSB administers as part of the larger UC Natural Reserve System. These protected natural areas, representative of California's diverse ecosystems, are living laboratories for scientific research, public outreach and education for all ages. And they are all spectacular to behold.
Valentine Eastern Sierra Reserve (VESR) is among UCSB’s — and the University of California’s — most prolific sources of ecological research. It is part of the 39-site UC Natural Reserve System (NRS), which boasts more than 750,000 acres of protected natural land and is the largest of its kind in the world.
Kenneth S. Norris Rancho Marino Reserve was added to the UC Natural Reserve System in 2001 in partnership with the property’s philanthropic owner. With 600 acres stretching over two miles of undeveloped coastal land, the site is a wonder of ecological diversity and abundance for both research and teaching.
Donated to UCSB in part by the Sedgwick family, this reserve situated in the heart of wine country is among the largest in the entire Natural Reserve System. At 6,000 acres and nine square miles, it is a vast nirvana of nature, with multiple habitats and ecosystems — and a bright future.
An early addition to the Natural Reserve System, the city-situated Carpinteria Salt Marsh measures 230 acres altogether. Looking out over the Pacific Ocean, and providing habitats for hundreds of species — many considered endangered or sensitive — it’s an oasis of nature in an urban landscape.