Sedgwick Reserve

Encompassing 24 square kilometers (9.2 square miles) on the southern slopes of the San Rafael Mountains, the Sedgwick Reserve spans an elevational range of 500 meters (1,650 feet) and is noted for both its large size and environmental heterogeneity. The reserve contains a major geologic fault system and two distinctive geologic formations: relatively young Paso Robles alluvium and much older Franciscan metamorphosed seafloor, including large areas of serpentine. Diverse vegetation types include coast live oak forest, blue oak woodland, valley oak savannah, buckbrush chaparral, coastal sage scrub, grassland, willow riparian forest, serpentine outcroppings, and agricultural lands. The site contains major portions of two watersheds and a variety of localized wetland habitats, notably vernal pools. The region has a rich Native American heritage, and at least one Middle Chumash habitation site (1,500 to 2,000 years old) rests on site. The reserve's large size enables research of varying scales on native ecosystems.

Environmental monitoring

Photomonitoring plots; stream-water analysis program; ongoing inventories of arthropods, mammals, birds, reptiles.

Field instruction

Numerous university courses, including botany, creative studies, geology, environmental studies, ecology, biogeography, soils, journalism, landscape painting.

Public service

Outreach programs in sciences, humanities, and the arts for regional elementary/secondary schools; field trips through partnership with Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Land Trust for Santa Barbara County, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Santa Ynez Valley Natural History Society, and other organizations, as well as numerous local artists.

Selected Research

  • Oak regeneration: Ten-year collaborative project on the roles of livestock and grazing and other factors in regeneration of two oak species; valley oak population genetics.
  • Native grasses: Competitive interactions between native perennial grasses and introduced annual grasses; perennial grass population genetics.
  • Soil nutrient flow: Movement of nutrients in grassland systems, including below-ground processes.
  • Floristic survey: Collection and identification of vascular and nonvascular plant species on site.

Special Research of National Significance

Microbial Observatory- Linking Resource and Stress Gradients to Microbial Community Composition and Function through the Soil Profile of a California Annual Grassland at the Sedgwick Reserve.

Photo Gallery

Contact Information
Kate McCurdy,
Reserve Director
Sedgwick Reserve
3566 Brinkerhoff Road
Santa Ynez, CA 93460-0848
Phone: 805-686-1941

Sedgwick Website

Santa Barbara County, in the Santa Ynez Valley; 56 km (35 mi.) north of the city of Santa Barbara.
Google Map

Overnight accommodations in 4-bedroom ranch house and two tent cabins; 49 and 75 person occupancy in two wi-fi enabled classrooms, shaded patio area and Platinum LEED rated Tipton Meeting House serve as a base for researcher housing, laboratory, meeting and teaching facilities; T-1 internet connection to UCSB campus.

Plant List
Network of meteorological stations; geographic information system (GIS) under development; astronomical observatory administered by Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope network.

Resident staff reserve director and steward on site; outreach coordinator; senior clerk.

2,388 hectares (5,896 acres), including a 317-hectare (783-acre) agricultural easement in favor of the County of Santa Barbara.

290 to 790 m (950 to 2,600 ft.)

Average Precipitation
38 cm (15 in.) per year.

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