Places for Teaching, Research and Conservation

Professor Norris was a man of big ideas and one of his biggest was the UC Natural Reserve System (NRS). As a graduate student at UCLA, Norris was surprised to find that field study sites, many of which he frequented, were rapidly disappearing due to increasing development. The beauty and ecological integrity of many open remote areas were being rapidly transformed into motels and parking lots.

Norris felt a responsibility toward preserving these undisturbed natural lands for research, teaching, and habitat conservation. In 1963 Norris proposed a UC-wide plan to acquire land to represent the broad range of California’s habitats and to make them accessible for the benefit of all UC campuses. Once approved, Norris took time off from teaching to travel throughout California to interview other field researchers and survey numerous potential reserve locations. Norris analyzed 81 original sites, 13 of which were initially drawn into the NRS.

Today, the UC Natural Reserve System has grown significantly and now encompasses over 756,000 acres of protected land with a total of 39 reserves, making it the largest system of natural reserves in the world. Each year, thousands of researchers and students from universities and schools around the world utilize the UC NRS system.