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Merced Vernal Pools and Grassland Reserve

UC Merced's Vernal Pool Reserve. The foreground is a flat yellow grassland with a small windmill in the distance. The background is dominated by the towering, snowcapped Sierra Nevada mountains

The Merced Vernal Pools and Grassland Reserve is an ecosystem in which researchers at all levels get up-close views and first-hand experience with the fascinating springtime pools and their fragile flora and endangered fauna, and the unique soils found in this region.

Click here to see a detailed map of the reserve.Though the land has always been protected as part of the university, a vote by the UC Regents in 2014 made the UC Merced reserve an official member of the 750,000-acre UC Natural Reserve System. By joining the NRS, UC Merced’s campus reserve — the first in the Central Valley  is now part of a network of 39 permanently-protected open spaces found across the length and breadth of California. The NRS’s protected wildland sites encompass many of California's major ecosystems.

The reserves support university-level research and teaching, and are used by students, faculty members and other researchers to study natural systems, communities and ecological processes in these rich, diverse environments. In coming years, the reserve leaders plan to have an interpretive and educational center, guided tours and events and more. Keep up with the reserve online and explore the many reasons this land is so important.