NRS reserves adapt to coronavirus shutdown

Kyla
Younger Lagoon restoration steward Kyla Roessler lifts a coverboard to show off a garter snake. Reserve staff are taking selfies to share with reserve interns learning from home due to the coronavirus shutdown. Image: Kyla Roessler

By Kathleen Wong

Spring is prime time around the University of California Natural Reserve System. As winter thaws, and skies dry, scientists and students alike start migrating to the protected lands of the network’s 41 reserves. Field stations bustle with university classes on field trips, who rub shoulders with faculty and student researchers, and may intersect with buses of schoolchildren on day visits.

Then came the coronavirus shutdown. To comply with physical distancing requirements, UC closed its campuses and facilities to all but essential activities. The order extended to reserves as well. Researchers suddenly required special dispensation from campuses to visit reserves, while classes canceled in-person field trips and went online.

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