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Connect with Nature

UC Merced is surrounded by open space and wonderful examples of all kinds of natural features, from the Sierra Nevada to the coast. One of the best aspects of working or studying here is that connecting with nature is encouraged. The Land, Habitat & Watershed Working Group is designed to increase education, research and conservation activities in the campus’s natural areas while supporting sustainable land, habitat and watershed management practices.

To learn more or join the Land, Habitat & Watershed Working Group, contact Professor Roger Bales at

Natural Reserve System

The UC Natural Reserve System (NRS) is a network of protected natural areas throughout California. Its 41 sites — two of which are part of UC Merced — include more than 756,000 acres, making it the largest university-administered reserve system in the world. 

To learn more about the two UC Merced Reserves, click the title above!

Merced Vernal Pools and Grassland Reserve

The Merced Vernal Pool and Grassland Reserve is the 39th reserve in the UC Natural Reserve System (UC NRS), whose mission is to contribute to the understanding and wise stewardship of the Earth and its natural systems by supporting university-level teaching, research, and public service. Adopted into the UC NRS in 2013, this reserve is unique not only in its biodiversity, but in its proximity to a UC Campus, which provides an amazing opportunity to learn about, investigate, and research vernal pool and wetland ecology through a wide range of research projects and educational activities.

To learn more about the two UC Merced Vernal Pools, click the title above!


Yosemite National Park in California is famous for its stunning cliffs and waterfalls. You can help by volunteering with Yosemite Conservancy for tasks like trail maintenance and conservation. Follow Leave No Trace rules when visiting, and consider donating to support the park. Your involvement, whether through volunteering or responsible tourism, plays a vital role in preserving Yosemite's beauty and natural balance.

To learn more about Yosemite Park, click the title above!