Soil profiles

Soil scientists examine soil layers that underlie the vernal pools.

Grassland Summer Cleanup

Grasslands Cleanup volunteers filled 40 bags of trash! This included many plastic bags, styrofoam, plastic wrappers, beach balls and mylar balloons.

Long-billed Curlews Winging Overhead

Long-billed Curlews, the world's largest shorebird, forage for insects on Reserve grasslands.

Precision fishing by Osprey on nearby wetland

This Osprey set off our motion sensor camera with this spectacular catch at the leakage wetland behind Lake Yosemite.

Preserving Nature

With 6,500 protected acres, UC Merced will always have majestic views of a spectacular natural landscape.

Spring 2014 Service Learning Team

A team of students designed an award-winning brochure, web page and interpretive sign for the Reserve.

Drought leaves stock ponds dry

With only about 6 inches of rain this year, the 10 cattle stock ponds dried up early.

Site Visit

SNRI staff and members of a UC Natural Reserve System evaluation committee pause for a group photo during a tour of the Reserve.

Fall Field Trip

Staff of the university's Office of the Registrar enjoy a fall field trip on the Reserve
UC Merced Administrator's field trip

Vernal Pool Research

Vernal pools are fascinating, but rare ecosystems. Scientists have much to learn about the geological and hydrological processes that create and maintain them.

Mima mounds

This aerial image taken 100 ft up by photographer David Rosen shows the remarkable Mima mound geomorphology in northern part of Reserve
Mima mounds in northern part of Reserve

Sightings on Reserve

Our motion sensor camera photographed this Great Blue Heron and three White-faced Ibis foraging on the Le Grand Canal leakage wetland on an August afternoon.

Reserve Hike

UC Merced staff, faculty, and students set out with Reserve staff to explore Black Rascal Creek. Check out the Events section for our next hike.

The Wild Side

The Reserve supports many native plants and animals that depend on this diverse, healthy ecosystem. This Least Sandpiper is feeding in a playa vernal pool.

5th Graders from Merced Public Schools

In spring, Reserve staff and "Splash" educators from Sacramento teach K-12 students about vernal pool ecology
5th Graders from Merced Public Schools

New Sign at Reserve Gate

This sign let's visitors know the Reserve is just beyond the gate

Dedication Ceremony

Chancellor Leland cuts the ribbon at the April 30 ceremony as Chris Swarth (L), Peggy Fiedler and Martha Conklin look on.
Chancellor Leland cuts ribbon as Chris Swarth (L), Peggy Fiedler and Martha Conklin watch.

Chancellor Leland visits Reserve

Chancellor Leland, Reserve Director Chris Swarth and Kim Garner, Exec Asst. to the Chancellor, enjoy the view above Black Rascal Cr.

Burrowing Owls Dwell in Reserve

Burrowing Owls roost and nest in the burrows of California Ground Squirrels. They feed on beetles, grasshoppers and small rodents.

Science Education

The Reserve is convenient and accessible to undergraduates. A number of UC Merced professors now hold field trips there.

Coyote Pups

These coyote pups were photographed with our motion sensor camera on a June afternoon at the Hercules watering tank.

Stock Ponds

Stock ponds provide drinking water for the 1,600 cattle that graze on the Reserve. Some ponds are breeding sites for the federally threatened California Tiger Salamander.
Cattle Stock Pond in Reserve


November 21, 2014

The opportunity to work as the intern for the Reserve gave me an appreciation for the intricacies of our delicate and unique vernal pools ecosystem. The seemingly endless rolling hills, countless arrays of plants and insects and soaring falcons across the Reserve sparked my interest and curiosity to learn more about them. Last spring the Reserve initiated its first conservation project by erecting 10 cavity nest boxes for our resident falcon, the American Kestrel.  This gave me...