SACRAMENTO — Leading up to his focus on the Central Valley on Friday, Governor Gray Davis today announced a grant of $2 million from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for habitat preservation on the site of the new campus of the University of California, Merced.
"This grant strengthens habitat preservation efforts and supports higher education in the San Joaquin Valley," Governor Davis said. "We are very grateful for this gift from the Hewlett Foundation. It will play a significant role in preserving California's natural heritage."
The grant will provide funds to assist UC Merced in acquiring and managing 5,750 acres of vernal pool habitat destined to be preserved as part of the creation of the new campus, which is proposed to be situated on the edge of rolling grasslands northeast of the City of Merced.
"The funds provided will assist us in achieving our mission to preserve the vernal pool habitat as part of the creation of our new campus," said UC Merced Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey. "At the same time, the gift allows us to lay the foundation for meaningful research projects that will enrich the education of generations of students and faculty members."
The University is proposing to the Hewlett Foundation that a portion of the funds be used for management and research efforts on a 750-acre area of the Merced site that will become part of the University of California Natural Reserve System. UC's Natural Reserve System is a system of 33 reserves across California used by students, faculty, and other researchers to study the natural systems and processes of the diverse environments.
UC Merced employs almost 65 educators and professionals. The University's main campus in Merced is expected to open in fall 2005 to serve 1,000 students. The campus will grow over coming decades to serve 25,000 students. UC Merced contributes to educational access through the entire San Joaquin region via special educational and outreach centers in Fresno and Bakersfield. A new UC Merced center will open in Modesto later this year.
Governor Davis will host the Central Valley Economic Summit on Friday, June 1, 2001. UC Merced will be a topic of discussion at the subcommittee on education.