Giving to the Reserve: Our 2018 Year in Review

Dear Friends of Sedgwick Reserve:

The past year at Sedgwick has been a productive one, from significant progress made on infrastructure projects to the many outreach activities that continue to make ours one of the most publicly accessible reserves. Our hope is that you will continue to support our efforts after reviewing all of the developments we have achieved in 2018!  

On the heels of our significant accomplishment in 2017 of completing the renovation of the historic Sedgwick ranch house, we continued or facelift to the landscaping on the north side. This landscaping, meticulously installed and tended to by staff and volunteers, includes highlights such as an artificial creek bed with shallow pools and riparian vegetation, and a drought-tolerant plant--Kurapia --which was developed in collaboration with researchers at UC Davis.  

The La Kretz Research Center at Sedgwick Reserve, endowed to focus on the impacts of climate change on California's native habitats, continued to emerge as an interdisciplinary hub for research and university-level education. The Center began recruiting for postdoctoral positions late in 2018, and positions will be filled beginning in early 2019. In July, we broke ground on construction of the office and laboratory building for the center, which will be located where the garage of the Ranch House once stood. This construction project is anticipated for completion in May of 2019.

In 2018, 450 researchers devoted nearly 2,000 days to conducting research on Sedgwick's 5,896 acres. Investigators from UC Riverside, UCLA, UC Santa Cruz, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, UCSB and universities from all over the country used Sedgwick to work on a range of projects from rattlesnake behavioral ecology to collecting samples from hummingbirds and ants. Just because it is field research does not mean it is low-tech, however--researchers used remote aerial vehicles to record data on oak phenology; used machine learning technology to improve how wildlife is monitored; and installed advanced sensors in seismic arrays .  

Sedgwick supported a broad range of undergraduate field education in 2018, from research design and watershed analysis to ecopsychology. We hosted UC's California Ecology and Conservation course, which enables students to visit several UC reserves to learn field research skills for an entire term. Ten UCSB courses from four separate departments used Sedgwick for their studies in 2018, in addition to five courses from four other undergraduate institutions, including UCLA, UC Santa Cruz, and USC. Nearly 300 students stayed at Sedgwick for 900 days in 2018, learning research techniques in a field classroom setting.  

Sedgwick continues to be a flagship reserve for public use and engagement. Over the summer, staff from the Las Cumbres Observatory led a star party at the observatory on the reserve, hosting 22 stargazing guests. The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden brought 30 California Naturalist Program students to Sedgwick as part of their course to teach environmental literacy and stewardship.  

This year we fully implemented our new Walking Ecology program, inviting faculty and field researchers to lead field excursions at Sedgwick on topics of their expertise. These offerings will continue during second Saturdays of 2019. The first Walking Ecology lecture of the season will be a geology hike led by Dr. Bruce Tiffney of UCSB on January 12. Registration and more information for this event can be found here. We hope you will consider joining us as we invite you to enjoy the outdoors, get some exercise, and learn something new about nature from leading experts in the field.

Another significant accomplishment in 2018 at the Reserve was the implementation of a new project to restore Sedgwick pond. The ongoing drought has meant that we needed to reduce the amount of water being pumped into the pond. In addition, sensitive species such as Tricolored Blackbirds, California red-legged frogs, and Western Pond Turtles would benefit from habitat improvements such as removing non-native fish, reducing old growth cattail cover, and subsequently increasing the open water area. After the early July departure of the nesting Tricolored Blackbird colony, the water was turned off from the pond to allow it to dry down over the summer. In late summer, extraneous cattails were removed by hand and via cattle crazing on the northern end of the pond, and in late September an excavator deepened the northern 0.25 acre of the pond. In early October, the water was turned back on and the new, smaller pond was allowed to fill. Monitoring of the sensitive species that use the pond will continue in 2019.

It has been a richly rewarding year for my Sedgwick staff and me largely because of the help of key UC Santa Barbara leaders, our donors, neighbors, docents, volunteers and longtime supporters, as well as local allies: the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County, Environmental Defense Center, Santa Barbara Foundation and UC Santa Barbara Foundation. I am especially grateful to the donors who gave financial support to Sedgwick's operations, staffing and programs.  

Gifts of financial support for Sedgwick over the last several years have been critical our day-to-day operations. Your contribution to Sedgwick in support of stewardship and infrastructure projects will benefit wildlife, the land and our visitors for years to come. 

I hope that you will consider making a gift now, and do it sustainably and effortlessly---online! A contribution in any amount will make a difference and you can do it today simply by clicking here. It's green, economical, easy and important!

Please be in touch with me if you have questions. There are many other opportunities to support this amazing Reserve, and if you would like to learn more, I'd be happy to have you visit.

Here again is the link where you can make an on-line contribution. And keep your eyes out for newsletter bulletins announcing public hikes, classes and events! If you aren't already on our newsletter mailing list, you can sign up here.  


With warm regards and thanks for your consideration,

Kate McCurdy

Director, Sedgwick Reserve


P.S. If you wish instead to send a check to support our efforts, we welcome you to do so. Please make it payable to  UC Regents  and mail to  UCSB Sedgwick Reserve, 3566 Brinkerhoff Road, Santa Ynez, CA 93460 . A small portion of all gifts will provide essential support to UCSB's overall operations.