UCLA celebrated the opening of the La Kretz Center Field Station this week, marking a new era for conservation research in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Located on National Park Service land off Mulholland Highway near Kanan Road, the field station will serve as a new headquarters for the university's La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science in partnership with the NPS, California State Parks and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.
"Having a home base in the middle of the Santa Monica Mountains makes it much more attractive to do research," said UCLA conservation biologist Brad Shaffer. "For the first time, we have a building where students researchers, and our agency partners can work, brainstorm and stay in the mountains."
Shaffer was among the attendees of the ribbon cutting ceremony at the field station Tuesday. Also on hand were Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy executive director Joe Edmiston, NPS Superintendent David Syzmanski and philanthropist Morton La Kretz, who provided an endowment for the renovation.
"This field station offers a home for attacking the vital issues of our city and state. I'll mention them again, conservation science, water issues, biodiversity, climate change, urban planning, to name a few. It will be a nice place for real change to take place, change that will be critical," La Kretz said.
The field station will serve as an off-campus location for meetings, small classes, workshops, overnight guests and research support.
"Morton La Kretz has a long record of contributing to and supporting environmental research, and this is another example of his commitment and philanthropy," said Victoria Sork, dean of the UCLA Division of Life Sciences. "His gift will make sure we translate conservation research on campus to conservation practice in the field."
David Szymanski, a NPS superintendent, praised the partnership.
"Our work together will help us to better protect and restore Southern California's Santa Monica Mountains," Szymanski said.
According to UCLA, new projects at the Le Kretz Center include:
- A small grant program to jump-start graduate students' research on local conservation management projects.
- A program to recruit post–Ph.D. scientists to UCLA to work with the La Kretz Center and its agency partners.
- The California Conservation Genomics initiative, which will use cutting-edge conservation genomics tools to examine how well California's public lands are protecting endangered species.
Learn more about the La Kretz Center at www.environment.ucla.edu/lakretz.