Located on part of the former Fort Ord Army Base, Fort Ord Natural Reserve supports excellent examples of maritime chaparral endemic to the Monterey Bay region. This rare habitat and several associated plant and wildlife species depend largely on Fort Ord land for their survival.
Eleven listed plant species reside there (including the federally endangered, state-threatened sand gilia and the federally threatened Monterey spineflower), along with six listed animal species (including the federally endangered Smith's blue butterfly). The site also supports a mixture of other habitats: coast live oak, coastal scrub, mixed annual grassland, and native perennial grassland.
The reserve was established because of its unique flora and fauna of the Monterey Bay maritime chaparral and as mitigation for the adjacent UCSC Monterey Bay Education, Science, and Technology Center (MBEST) under the Fort Ord Base Closure Habitat Management Plan (HMP). As part of this plan, the reserve will protect rare habitats and associated special-status species into perpetuity and foster teaching/research opportunities, especially in conservation biology of the HMP species.
Rich habitat diversity, unique biotic communities, and proximity to UCSC and other campuses create valuable teaching opportunities; students use the site for internship programs and independent research on projects that directly support management efforts.
Through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Army, UCSC researchers study survival of rare native annuals and potential uses of native perennials as cover for large-scale restoration; UCSC undergraduates remove invasive exotic flora and restore seven acres of maritime chaparral; small disturbed areas available for other experiments in restoration ecology.
- Baseline studies: Status of HMP-listed species; preliminary surveys of birds, legless lizards, coast horned lizards, ants, and habitat-use patterns.
- Conservation biology: Distribution and genetic studies of the black and silver forms of the California legless lizard; survey of coast horned lizards; survey of native ants and invasive Argentine ants; research on the demographics and community ecology of sand gilia, Monterey spineflower and shrubs of the maritime chaparral; the role of change in ant biodiversity on seed dispersal; comparative genetic and morphological analysis of different and gilia populations.
Monterey County, 6.5 km (4 mi.) north of downtown Monterey; 65 km (40 mi.) south of Santa Cruz.
Primitive campground available for research and class use. The site is suited for day use and primitive camping. Hotels and other overnight accommodations are nearby.
Baseline-survey data collected for the Fort Ord Base Closure Habitat Management Plan (HMP); excellent sets of aerial maps; plant and vertebrate species lists are available; an invertebrate species list is under development. Databases of rare annual plant distributions, perennial shrubs composition, rough occurrence patterns of some vertebrates, and selected material on invertebrate distribution
Reserve director and steward on UCSC campus.
245 hectares (605 acres)
21 to 58 m (70 to 190 ft.)
46 cm (18 in.) per year
15 ºC (59 ºF)