Natural Reserve System (NRS)

The University of California administers 39 natural reserves throughout the state. UC Santa Cruz has responsibility for four—the Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve, Fort Ord Natural Reserve, Año Nuevo Island, and Younger Lagoon Natural Reserve—in addition to UCSC’s own Campus Natural Reserve. The purpose of the NRS is to establish and maintain, for teaching and research, a system of natural areas that encompass diverse and undisturbed examples of California’s terrain, both aquatic and terrestrial. The reserves are open to all qualified individuals and institutions for scholarly work concerned with the natural environment. Such work usually deals with ecological topics or experimental studies in a natural setting.

At UCSC, the reserves play an important role in supporting experiential learning (course support, internships, and research support) for undergraduate students interested in the ecological, physical, and environmental sciences. The close proximity of two of the reserves (Campus Reserve and Younger Lagoon) makes it possible for faculty and students to walk out the classroom door and into a living laboratory and outdoor classroom. These two reserves serve over 3,500 students, dozens of courses across multiple disciplines, and 150 undergraduate internships each year.

Information about the reserves is available at the UC Santa Cruz Natural Reserves website. Information about the UC system's NRS holdings and management is available at the University of California Natural Reserve System website. You may also contact the UCSC Natural Reserve director, c/o Environmental Studies Department, 467 Natural Sciences 2 Building, at (831) 459-4867, or by email at