State board awards $2.833 million for desert research center improvements

UC Irvine-run facility in Anza-Borrego state park supports field work

Irvine, Calif., Dec. 19, 2012 — The California Wildlife Conservation Board has awarded $2.833 million in Proposition 84 funds for new construction at UC Irvine’s Steele/Burnand Anza-Borrego Desert Research Center in Borrego Springs.

The facility supports field research by biologists, astronomers, anthropologists and others in the vast Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, in eastern San Diego County.

The Proposition 84 money matches $2.833 million from UC Irvine that was used to complete an earlier phase of the project, which provided seismic upgrading, a new roof and utility improvements. The upcoming work is expected to include:

  • A new laboratory building;
  • Two residential structures – a dormitory capable of housing 24 students and a four-unit apartment complex for long-term researcher use;
  • A patio courtyard;
  • Additional locker-room facilities;
  • A small storage building;
  • An outdoor staging area; and
  • Improved parking.

UC Irvine officials hope to begin construction as early as May 2013.

“This upgrade will let the center offer university students unique research experiences in the desert; engage the Borrego Springs community in outreach and education; and give our partners – California State Parks and the Anza-Borrego Foundation – access to resources that also serve their missions,” said Travis Huxman, UC Irvine professor of ecology & evolutionary biology and director of the Steele/Burnand Anza-Borrego Desert Research Center.

The Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality & Supply, Flood Control, River & Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2006 (Proposition 84) was a California voter-approved measure providing matching grants (up to $25 million) to the University of California’s Natural Reserve System for land acquisition and the construction and development of facilities that will be used for research and training to improve the management of natural lands and the preservation of California’s wildlife resources.

The Steele/Burnand Anza-Borrego Desert Research Center is a joint endeavor of UC Irvine, the UC Natural Reserve System, California State Parks and the Anza-Borrego Foundation. It includes UC Irvine’s 78-plus acres at the west end of Tilting T Drive, a gift from the Anza-Borrego Foundation.

The center was made possible by a substantial donation from longtime Borrego Springs benefactor Audrey Steele Burnand in early 2011. The gift enabled UC Irvine to purchase the former Desert Club and fund the necessary renovations to the aging structure. In July 2011, the UC Natural Reserve System formally accepted the Steele/Burnand Anza-Borrego Desert Research Center as its 37th – and largest – site.

To date, the facility has housed researchers and classes from UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego/Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Augustana College (Illinois), Humboldt State University, UC Riverside, the U.S. Geological Survey (Denver), and the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California (Ensenada, Mexico).

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UC Irvine is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UC Irvine is among the most dynamic campuses in the University of California system, with more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,400 staff. Orange County’s second-largest employer, UC Irvine contributes an annual economic impact of $4.3 billion. For more UC Irvine news, visit news.uci.edu.

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