All those concerned with the Sierra Nevada agree that the magnitude and complexity of managing the region's resources for sustainable use demands new approaches to research, planning, and decision making. There is less agreement, however, on how to proceed, except that it must involve the major reform of educational systems (e.g., greater interdisciplinarity and emphasis on problem solving), scientific research (e.g., synthesis vs. reductionism), institutions (e.g., collaborative vs. organization-based planning), natural resource management (e.g., adaptive vs. traditional production-based approaches), and social and economic systems.
The creation of a new UC campus near Merced provides an unprecedented opportunity for the UC system to contribute to environmental research, education and outreach in this region. The UC Office of the President (UCOP) has recognized this opportunity and has already moved decisively to promote and fund research and outreach activities that help to identify UC Merced with innovative environmental education and research aimed at both the Sierra Nevada and the San Joaquin Valley. UCOP has funded the Sierra Nevada Network for Education and Research (SNNER) to facilitate cooperative conservation planning. The mission of SNNER is to disseminate data and findings from the Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project (SNEP) and to support their application in local and regional conservation and ecosystem management activities. UCOP is also planning a Sierra Nevada Research Institute at the Merced campus to facilitate multi-disciplinary environmental research. The Sierra Nevada Research Institute could provide immediate visibility for UC Merced in the area of environmental science and management, thereby helping to recruit faculty and to develop a conceptual framework for the instructional academic program.
UCOP asked Frank Davis to become the Principal Investigator of SNNER and Acting Director of the Sierra Nevada Research Institute. Several activities at UCSB and UC Davis were funded to promote these objectives:
- Develop several initiatives related to SNNER.
- Develop a formal procedure for siting new nature reserves for the UC System and apply it to the UC Merced campus.
- Scope the role and structure of the proposed new Sierra Nevada Research Institute.
For details about these activities, see the following links.
- Executive Summary of Year 1 Activities (7/98-6/99)
- Executive Summary of Year 2 Activities (7/99-6/00)