MERCED -- The University of California Board of Regents today (March 19) approved two major long-range planning documents for the University of California, Merced, marking a significant milestone in the newest UC campus's plans to enroll as many as 25,000 students by 2035.
The 2009 Long-Range Development Plan (LRDP) and the corresponding Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR) provide a detailed preview of the physical layout, character, sustainability objectives and environmental impacts for the campus and its contiguous and associated university community at full development. Publicly released in November, the EIS/EIR was certified and the LRDP was adopted at the Regents' regularly scheduled meeting in Riverside today.
"Regental authorization of these two planning documents is a major step forward for UC Merced and a tribute to the many people at the university and in the public sector who helped to shape and fine-tune these plans in recent years," said UC Merced Chancellor Steve Kang. "The Regents' strong support renews our dedication to the challenging task we've undertaken and reinforces our determination to build a university that serves the people of California with great distinction."
Publication and Regental approval of the LRDP and certification of the EIS/EIR are key steps in the process of developing a model 21st century campus and securing regulatory authorization for future phases of construction of the campus and university community, a contiguous development of housing and commercial, retail, and entertainment venues supporting the campus. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), working in concert with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), must issue development permits under Section 404 of the U.S. Clean Water Act before the next phase of campus construction can begin. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also must issue a Biological Opinion related to the project.
Phase 1 construction on the university's current 104-acre site is expected to be largely completed by 2012. Phases 2, 3 and 4 will involve another 711 acres and will stretch out through 2035. Construction of the university community will begin during phase 2 on an adjacent 1,951 acres directly south of the campus.
The 2009 LRDP and EIS/EIR are updates of earlier documents, reflecting the university's decision, announced in October 2007, to modify the size and configuration of its planned development to reduce impacts on vernal pool wetlands, achieve greater land-use efficiency and accommodate future needs of the planned 25,000-student campus. The revisions reflect significant input from public agencies, government officials, agricultural representatives, environmental groups and the community at large.
The LRDP describes the four phases of campus development and establishes ambitious new objectives for sustainability and environmental stewardship. UC Merced believes the plan can serve as a model for sustainable, higher-density development for the region. It can be found at http://lrdp.ucmerced.edu .
The EIS/EIR examines the environmental effects of full development and notes the reduced impacts the university's revised footprint will have on seasonal wetlands. The document is available at http://lrdp.ucmerced.edu/ .
The public comment period on the Draft EIS/EIR officially closed in January 2009. The USACE is now reviewing all comments and is expected to issue its permit decision by late spring of this year.
Related news regarding campus planning and the
* Campus Releases Updated Plans for Physical Layout, Character, Sustainability Goals, Environmental Impacts of Full Development (Nov. 7, 2008) 
For information about US Green Building Council LEED awards
for UC Merced buildings:
* UC Merced Receives Fourth LEED "Gold" for Environmental Certification 
Third Building Awarded LEED "Gold" Certification for Environmental
Excellence (March 26, 2008) 
* Library Complex Awarded "Gold" LEED Certification (Jan. 18, 2008) 
* Central Plant Earns "Gold" LEED Award (March 13, 2007)