Two new field stations were added to the UC Natural Reserve System, or UCNRS, on Friday through a vote from the UC Board of Regents. The decision expands the UCNRS to 41 locations — the largest university-administered natural reserve system in the world.
The UC Point Reyes Field Station, located in western Marin County, will be controlled by UC Berkeley. Its inclusion into the UCNRS will make new opportunities available for researchers and classes to study a coastal environment and have access to campgrounds.
Lassen Field Station, which was also added to the UCNRS on Friday, is located in Northern California and will be managed by UC Davis. It brings to the UCNRS new possibilities to study geology, seismic activity and a volcanic environment, which can be used to find life forms that can survive in hot environments, according to UCNRS spokesperson Kathleen Wong.
“It gives UC a presence in the northern part of the state, where there aren’t a lot of higher education science opportunities,” Wong said. “The hope is that the research that is done by people staying at our field stations will help those entrusted with the management of the national parks to better protect these environments.”
According to Wong, the UC system does not actually own the land at Point Reyes or Lassen but is partnering with the National Park Service for its use. She added that members of the public can also visit these field stations and participate in activities, as long as they follow the UCNRS’s mission for research and public service.
The Point Reyes Field Station has been under the discretion of UC Berkeley since 2017, according to Reserve Manager Allison Kidder. She added that the reserve includes more than 90,000 acres of open space and wilderness in coastal and inland habitats.
According to Kidder, being a part of the UCNRS will allow the reserve to build a weather station, which will contribute to the data being collected on other reserves across the state for public use. She added that the UCNRS allows the station to expand its laboratory to include new habitats.
“We are incredibly excited to become the 40th reserve in the UC Natural Reserve System,” Kidder said. “We do hope to expand our facilities to accommodate researcher needs, such as improving our dry lab space for sample processing and storage.”