Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve
The Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve is a constituent of the University of California Natural Reserve System. It is located off State Route 1 in the Big Sur area on California's central coast, fifty miles south of Monterey.
“The guiding principle of the Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve is to contribute to the understanding of ecological processes as they occur in intact, protected natural systems through on-site research and education, and to provide a benchmark for interpreting long-term environmental change.”
In the mid-1970s the owners of the Big Creek Ranch decided to sell the property due to pressures from development and high property taxes. The owners were looking to sell the Big Creek property to someone who would ensure long-term protection and sustainability at the site. The owners of the property found a buyer in The Nature Conservancy, a non-profit organization committed to conservation. Purchase of the parcel was made possible by a number of private grants and donations, University of California funds, Save the Redwoods League, and by several of the landowners who lowered their price below that of the market value to ensure the natural integrity of the site.
After purchase, the land was transferred to the University of California where it would become part of the University of California Natural Reserve System. In 1978 the reserve's name was formally changed to Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve and a faculty member from the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) was given the position of managing the day-to-day affairs. A committee of UCSC faculty, a representative each from The Nature Conservancy, Save the Redwoods League, and the former owners was formed to advise on decisions related to the use of the land. Today the Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve is used by students, teachers and researchers. The reserve is set aside as an undisturbed sanctuary for education and research.
Running through the Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve are the Santa Lucia Mountains. This mountain range is predominantly made up of granite and metamorphic rock which provide for steeply sloping cliff faces, and rough ridges throughout the area.
The geology of the Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve is unique. There are depositions of sea floor deposits from the Cretaceous age, as well as Franciscan Complex, a medley of rock scraped off the oceanic crust as the Pacific Plate subducts beneath the North American Plate. In the midst of this, there is also a Granitoid Salinia. This Salinia is thought to have originated in the Southern Sierra Nevada range some 100 million years ago, and then was displaced to its present position by a series of thrust and strike-slip faults. The geology of this region has proved vastly important in determining the geologic history of California, and the nature of the contact between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates.
Landscapes and habitats
The reserve is home to a wide array of vegetation ranging from coastal shrubs and grasslands to forests and woodlands of Redwood, Pine, and Oak. This diverse landscape provides a thriving habitat for a wide variety of wildlife. Wildlife includes vascular plants, insects, amphibians, reptiles, and terrestrial vertebrates ranging from small mammals, like shrews and rats, to apex predators such as mountain lions.
- UCSC, Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve
- Georgette, Susan E. (1981). In the Rough Land to the South. Environmental Field Program Publication No. 5. University of California, Santa Cruz.
- Hall, Clarence, Jr. (1991). Geology of the Point Sur-Lopez Point Region, Coast Ranges, California: A part of the Southern California Allochthon.
- Norris, R. 1985, Geology of the Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve, Monterey County, California. Santa Cruz, CA, University of California, Santa Cruz
- Carothers, John, Rebecca Cull, Laurie Daniel, David Melchert and Roland White 1980. Terrestrial Vertebrates of the Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve, Monterey County, California, Environmental Field Program, University of California, Santa Cruz Santa Cruz CA
- Bickle, A. 1985. Amphibians of the Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve, Monterey County, California Environmental Field Program, University of California, Santa Cruz Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA