Stewardship Program

Mission Statement:

Our mission is to involve the university community in ecological restoration and guardianship of UCSC land. Our intent is to raise awareness about restoration and stewardship issues so that individuals can minimize their impact on the natural landscape, while providing a venue for interested students, faculty and staff to help restore and maintain our beautiful campus lands.
The Site Stewardship Program organizes a team of interns and volunteers to take on ecological restoration and guardianship for sensitive natural areas within the UCSC campus. The program seeks to alleviate the impact that university growth is having on the landscape of the campus. The result of past natural resource extraction and university build-out has caused habitat destruction, invasion of non-native species, and soil erosion.

Projects of the Stewardship Program:

Earthen Berm Project, Long Marine Lab
The Site Stewardship Program is working to restore native coastal vegetation on the earthen berm located adjacent to the Long Marine Lab Research Facility. The site has experienced heavy invasion from exotic weeds. Invasive weeds, mainly poison hemlock, threaten native vegetation by limiting resources and interfere with the growth and establishment of coastal scrub communities. The Site Stewardship Program has begun working to restore the berm. Native scrub species are being planted to crowd out invasive weeds and improve this unique habitat.

Grassland Monitoring and Residual Dry Matter Study
Much of the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) campus is a rare type of grassland called California coastal terrace prairie. These biodiverse ecosystems, and many of the species native to them, are of acute conservation concern. The campus grasslands are also an important part of the UCSC culture. UCSC Grounds Services manages the different grassland regions of campus using cattle grazing, mowing and manual weed removal to steward vegetation for fire safety and meadow-like composition. The grasslands are currently a patchwork of these management regimes. Despite the evidence that different management practices of grassland may have very different ecological consequences, there has been no quantitative monitoring to evaluate local effects. Through the efforts of intern Jamie Self, the Site Stewardship Program is now implementing a monitoring program in the Great and East meadows. Data that is collected will aid in determining the impacts of current management practices.

Upper Jordan Gulch Project
In the drainage between the firehouse and College 9 known as Upper Jordan Gulch, pedestrians and cyclists have created a footpath through the forest habitat as a shortcut. The disturbance has caused erosion and compaction to the root systems of the native trees and shrubs. During winter months the slippery trail surface is also a safety hazard. Consequently, trail-users have walked on native vegetation to avoid slipping, creating new trail scars. In an effort to restore the area, the Site Stewardship Program will be breaking up the compacted soil and planting native vegetation to encourage regeneration of the native habitat on the trail scars. The primary trail has been mulched and further maintenance will occur in order to keep the area safe for users.

Invasive Plant Removal
The conditions of our beautiful meadows are very delicate. The native species are threatened by non-native grasses and chaparral species such as baccharis. The Stewardship Program focuses on removing invasive species such as French broom and fennel to encourage growth of native grasses and forbes.



Students can gain field work experience by interning with the Site Stewardship Program. Interns perform a combination of ecological restoration, public outreach, interpretation, and education. Projects interns could work on include population monitoring, vegetative mapping, invasive plant removal, native seed collection, baseline data collection, revegetation, erosion control, and developing outreach materials. Interns can choose their project based on the needs of the program and the interests of the student.

There are several ways to become involved with the Site Stewardship Program. A student can intern for one academic year and earn 2 units per quarter and their fees paid by working with The Chancellor’s Undergraduate Internship Program (CUIP). Students can also earn internship credit through their department or the Environmental Studies Department for one quarter. All members of the UCSC community are invited to volunteer as a Site Steward to work on weekend projects. If you are interested in becoming an intern or a volunteer, please email