UCR Natural Reserves

The University of California maintains more than fourty Natural Reserves distributed throughout the state. The establishment of the system-wide UC Natural Reserve System was due in large part to the efforts in the 1940s and 1950s of Professors Ken Norris of UCLA and UC Santa Cruz and Wilbur Mayhew of UC Riverside, along with many others, who became concerned with the ever-increasing vandalism and disappearance of their field sites for research and teaching. Originally called the "Natural Land and Water Resources System," the Natural Reserve System was formally approved by the UC Regents in 1965. In essence, it is a 'library' of field sites. The system encompasses a wide variety of habitats, and is intended to insure that teachers and researchers will continue to have access to undisturbed natural habitats into the future.

Through the Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology, UC Riverside administers four major reserves that have research facilities and permanent staff; these are the Deep Canyon, Granite Mountains, Motte, and James Reserves. Another four minor reserves are also part of the UCR reserve network. Together they form a considerable portion of the University's total Natural Reserve System. Within the nearly 11,400 hectares (28,000 acres) included in the UC Riverside-managed reserves is a broad representation of Southern California's flora, fauna, and major ecosystems. These lands are an invaluable outdoor laboratory for teaching and research, used by scientists throughout the world. In addition, many endangered or diminishing species are protected from the urbanization occurring in Southern California on "habitat islands" preserved within reserve boundaries.

The campus Director for the UC Riverside Natural Reserves is Dr. Kimberly Hammond.

If you are interested in using any of the NRS sites administered by UCR, please contact the reserve directors listed below, or submit an application at rams.ucnrs.org :


Dr. Kimberly Hammond, Director
Office: (951) 827-4767 
Fax: (951) 827-4286 
2925 Life Sciences Building (LSP) 


Dr. Kathryn Uhrich, UCR Delegate
Dean, UCR College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences


UCR Natural Reserves Website



Box Springs UCR Natural Reserve (c) Alpengow

Box Springs Reserve

Located adjacent to the UCR campus, the 160 acre reserve hosts 19 species of reptiles, 16 species of mammals, including the pacific kangaroo rat, mountain lion, and mule deer, and 85 bird species.

Dr. Ken Halama, Director
Phone: (951) 657-3111
Fax: (951) 657-5443
Email: kjhalama@ucr.edu 

More information on the Box Springs Reserve




(c) Mark Chapell - Boyd Deep Canyon

Boyd Deep Canyon Desert Research Center

Located five miles south of Palm Desert, two hours east of the UCR campus, the 16,873 acre facility is located in the drainage system below the Santa Rosa Mountains. Facilities include a pair of laboratories, housing facilities for 14 researchers, additional remote facilities, teaching areas, and campgrounds for classes. Accommodations for up to 35 are available.

Dr. Chris Tracy
Resident Director (951) 827-3655
Email: tracyc@ucr.edu

More information on the Boyd Deep Canyon Desert Research Center

Deep Canyon website




Emerson Oaks Natural Reserve (c) UCNRS

Emerson Oaks Reserve

Located in the Temecula Valley, about 50 miles south of UC Riverside, in a transitional zone between the California Coast and Colorado Desert, the 255 acre reserve features a variety of diverse habitats.

Dr. Ken Halama, Director
Phone: (951) 657-3111
Fax: (951) 657-5443
Email: kjhalama@ucr.edu

More information on the Emerson Oaks Reserve




James San Jacinto Mountains UCR Natural Reserve (c) UCNRS

James San Jacinto Mountains Reserve

A 29-acre reserve located 50 miles east of Riverside near Idyllwild. It is located at the lower end of Hall Canyon on the western flank of Black Mountain. It hosts a wide variety of plant, animal, and insect communities.

Dr. Jennifer Gee
Resident Director
(951) 827-6835
Email: jennifer.gee@jamesreserve.edu

More information on the James San Jacinto Mountains Reserve




Motte Rimrock UCR Natural Rserve (c) UCR / Stan Lim 2019

Motte Rimrock Reserve

A 715-acre reserve located on the western edge of the Perris Valley. Coastal and desert influences intermingle at the site, creating an unusual mix of habitats. Six seasonal springs add to the diversity of the habitat.

Dr. Ken Halama, Director
Phone: (951) 657-3111
Fax: (951) 657-5443
Email: kjhalama@ucr.edu

More information on the Motte Rimrock Reserve

Motte Website




Jack and Marilyn Sweeney Granite Mountains UCR Natural Reserve (c) Douglas Stinson

Jack and Marilyn Sweeney Granite Mountains Desert Research Center

Located in the Granite Mountains of the eastern Mojave Desert about 80 miles east of Barstow, the 9,000 acre reserve has a variety of environmental and archeological sites. Over 460 species of vascular plants, 2 amphibian, 34 reptile, 138 bird, and 42 mammal species call the area home.

Dr. Jim André, Directorjim.andre@ucr.edu
Dr. Tasha La Doux, Assistant Directortasha.ladoux@ucr.edu
Phone: (760) 733-4222
Fax: (760) 733-9931

More information on the Sweeney Granite Mountains Desert Research Center

Granite Mountains Website




For more information about the UCR natural reserves, please visit our website:

UCR Natural Reserves


For more information about the UC system-wide natural reserves, please visit their website:

UC Natural Reserve System





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