Beginning in 1965, the UC Natural Reserve System (NRS) started to assemble, for scientific study, a system of protected sites that would broadly represent California's rich ecological diversity. By creating this system of outdoor classrooms and laboratories and making it available specifically for long-term study, the NRS supports a variety of disciplines that require field work in wildland ecosystems. For nearly forty years, the NRS has made relatively undisturbed samples of the state's natural ecosystems and the facilities needed to support teaching and research available not only to students, teachers, and researchers from the University of California, but to any qualified user from any institution, public or private, throughout the world. While other colleges and universities may have one or more sites for fieldwork, none can match the size, scope, and ecological diversity of the NRS. The NRS is the largest university-operated system of natural reserves in the world.