This award provides partial support for improvements in the basic physical infrastructure of the Sedgwick Reserve, one of the largest reserves in the University of California's Natural Reserve System (NRS). These improvements will expand the capacity of the Reserve for the conduct of research and education, and permit the expansion of overnight housing of researchers and students. Located in the San Rafael Mountains northwest of Santa Barbara, the Reserve is available to researchers, teachers and students from any institution of higher learning, school or scientific organization for use as a research site and outdoor classroom. Current research include studies of factors regulating oak regeneration, interactions among native perennial and invasive annual grasses in California ecosystems, and investigations of the linkage among microbial community diversity, composition, and function. Existing facilities consist of old ranch buildings. No modern laboratory facilities are available, and there are very limited facilities for overnight visitors. The University and Reserve staff, with the help of faculty, researchers, students, and the local community, have recently completed a comprehensive master plan for upgrading the Reserve's core facilities in order to support world-class environmental research, university-level instruction, and K-12 environmental education. The planned improvements in facilities are dependent on the improvements in roads and other basic infrastructure that are supported through this award.
Basic knowledge gained through research and education at sites like Sedgwick Reserve is critical to the preservation and wise management of natural ecosystems. Public awareness and understanding of environmental issues are also essential for successful environmental conservation and management. Both these important purposes will be enabled by the award.