Science Education

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

Drought leaves stock ponds dry

With only 2 inches of rain so far this year, cattle stock ponds are dry or nearly dry.

Long-billed Curlews Winging Overhead

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

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

Preserving Nature

With 6,500 protected acres, UC Merced will always have a majestic view of the high Sierra and plenty of open space.

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.

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 burrows, especially those of the California Ground Squirrel. They feed on beetles, grasshoppers and small rodents.

Coyote Pups

Three coyote pups were captured with our motion sensor camera. Mom was out hunting, all the pups look healthy.

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.

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.

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.

Reserve Dedication Ceremony

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


July 7, 2014

     The miles of barbed wire fences that criss-cross the Reserve’s 6,500 acres of open grasslands and vernal pools are ideal perches for falcons in search of prey.  Our resident falcon, the American Kestrel, is often seen perched on fence posts, pumping its tail or hovering in the open, searching for insects and mice.  American Kestrels populations are in decline across North America. This spring the Reserve initiated a project to expand their populations and to...