UC Regents approve the addition of Lassen Field Station to UC Davis Natural Reserve System

UC Regents approve the addition of Lassen Field Station to UC Davis Natural Reserve System

Photo Credits: R3li3nt / [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

Lassen marks the first addition to the reserve system since 1999

A field station in Lassen National Park was added to the UC Natural Reserve System and marks the sixth reserve for UC Davis. The approval came during a meeting of the Board of Regents on May 16.

The Lassen field station will be the first in the system to be located in the northeastern region of California, an area referred to as “underserved” by the UC system. The region’s volcanic landscape is unique compared to the rest of the reserves in the system.

Jeffrey Clary, associate director of the UC Davis Natural Reserve System, explained that the process of selecting a site has to do with the extent of campus interest.

“If faculty aren’t interested in a site and wouldn’t use it, there’s no point in going there,” Clary said.

Once interest is determined, the UC Office of the President puts together a three-campus review committee to make recommendations about going forward with the process. A statewide committee then votes on a recommendation that is presented to the Board of Regents. The long process is meant to ensure the success of the natural reserve.

Previous UC Davis reserves, such as the Bodega Marine Bay Reserve and the Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve, were not partnerships with existing organizations, so the university was in charge of building facilities. In this case, UC Davis will partner with the National Park Service.

With this partnership, UC Davis researchers will have access to meeting and classroom space, campsites and waived park entrance fees. Clary explained that another goal is to expedite research permits, so graduate students with a short window of time can more easily complete their research.

Undergraduate students are also involved with the natural reserves through internships and senior projects. One group comprised of students Adam Strauss, Henry Jue, Josephine Situ and Kavitha Dhanukodi completed their senior design project for computer science by working with the administration of Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve. The team created an app allowing visitors to see a live map of where they are and showing them points of interest in the reserve.

“It was a great learning experience,” the team said in an email. “It’s clear that the reserve provides great educational experiences for students both on-site and off.”

Class field trips and field classes are another possibility for the future of the Lassen field station.

Academic activities in the natural reserves are not limited to STEM fields. Andrew Latimer, Faculty Director of the UC Davis Natural Reserve System explained that art classes have also gone out to use the reserves. One of the goals of the UC Davis Natural Reserve System for the next five years is to increase opportunities for undergraduates, according to Latimer.

“Our faculty and staff and students [will have the potential] to be interacting with communities and visitors to this area that has been off the map as far as UC Davis and the UC system is concerned,” Clary said.

A field station in Point Reyes was also approved at the Regent’s Meeting and will be administered by UC Berkeley.

Written by: Andrea Esquetini— campus@theaggie.org