The UC Natural Reserve System is the largest and most diverse set of university-owned and operated reserves in the world. Its 33 reserves include examples of nearly every major ecosystem in the state. These reserves provide secure sites for long-term environmental research, education and public outreach. They enable monitoring of environmental health, and provide a baseline for ecosystem restoration, in the context of California's rapidly growing population and the changing global environment.
Six reserves are administered by the Davis campus: Bodega Marine Reserve, Eagle Lake Field Station, Jepson Prairie Reserve, Donald and Sylvia McLaughlin Reserve, Quail Ridge Reserve and Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve. These reserves represent a wide variety of habitats in close proximity to the campus.
The University of California Natural Reserve System and the Homestake Mining Company: Common Ground at the Donald and Sylvia McLaughlin Reserve
The University of California Natural Reserve System. The mission of the Natural Reserve System is to contribute to the understanding and wise management of the Earth and its natural systems by supporting university-level teaching, research, and public service at protected natural areas throughout California.
Common Ground at the Donald and Sylvia McLaughlin Reserve The idea of creating a reserve on McLaughlin Mine property originated with Homestake’s visionary environmental manager, Ray Krauss. In 1985, when the mine had just begun operation, Ray approached UC about the possibility of creating a reserve to be incorporated into the UC Natural Reserve System. In 1992, the first steps were taken to create a 300-acre reserve in this complex and intriguing serpentine landscape. Through 2002, students, researchers and miners respectfully coexisted on the reserve.
In 2003, with the last ounce of gold poured, Homestake and the University signed an agreement expanding the reserve to 6800 acres, with the Land Trust of Napa County holding a conservation easement on the property. Homestake (now a subsidiary of Barrick Gold) will have an obvious continued presence as they conduct post-mine monitoring and reclamation.
The McLaughlin Mine has been widely recognized by both environmental and mining organizations for its rigorous environmental monitoring and its innovative restoration and land management. The Donald and Sylvia McLaughlin Natural Reserve will continue the tradition of exemplary stewardship on this unique landscape.
Using the Mine to Understand Invasion Biology and Restoration, during mining operations, millions of cubic yards of rock and soil were moved to reach the gold ore. Graduate students in the NSF Biological Invasions Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) are using these mountains of transplanted soil as an experimental site to test the role of propagule supply (numbers of seeds and numbers of times they are introduced) in determining the success of invasions by common weeds such as European mustard. There are also plans to use the mine’s revegetation program as an opportunity to study various aspects of restoration ecology.
The Natural Reserves managed by UC Davis are a cornerstone of UC Davis’s excellence in the environmental fields. They serve as outdoor laboratories with access to high-quality natural habitats, well-maintained infrastructure, and long-term data bases. In the past four years we have built them into a flourishing academic facility that has hosted 149 research projects (about half by graduate students) and 144 courses with 2415 students. The activities and accomplishments at each reserve are detailed in Part II of this report. Our goals for the next five years are to keep the reserves on their present trajectory of success, and to maintain the investment by the campus in both their physical facilities and the academic programs they support.