Wilderness Lodge

Current Facilities

Older facilities

Two groups of facilities are currently used for research and teaching at the Angelo Coast Range Reserve: a headquarters complex at the south edge of the reserve, and a small residential complex about three km northeast of  Headquarters, in the reserve interior.

The headquarters complex consists of several buildings, including a headquarters building that is more than sixty years old and in substandard condition.  In 1997, campus health and safety experts recommended replacement of the headquarters building.  It currently functions as housing for visiting researchers in three small bedrooms.   A garage and shop facility is associated with the headquarters complex. The small residential complex, known as Fox Creek Lodge, consists of 5 separate bunkhouse cabins (4-6 bed platforms each, but only one of these large enough for an adult), a dining hall/kitchen, and bathroom.  This complex serves as group housing for up to 30 people, and is used as a dormitory for visiting students during the spring and fall semesters, and as housing for researchers in the summer.  The bunkhouses contain beds and lockers, and some of the structures require upgrading.  Finally, there is a small three-bedroom structure known as the Wilderness Lodge.  As a result of recent renovations, this structure is in good structural condition, and is occupied by visiting researchers throughout the year.Wilderness Lodge

Two other areas with structures are located on the grounds of the reserve: the Angelo Homesite, an area retained as an inholding by the Angelo family and currently occupied by the Resident Manager, Peter Steel, a descendant of the Angelo’s, and his family; and the White House, an unoccupied building that is listed on the Federal Register of Historic Places.

All structures in the Reserve are managed in a manner that minimizes environmental impacts.  Only the headquarters complex is linked to the county electrical grid; all other occupied buildings are powered by solar energy and propane.

Newer Facilities

Tree Canopy FacilityIn 1997, as part of an initial strategic planning process for the Reserve, the Berkeley campus and the Natural Reserve System determined that the Angelo Coast Range Reserve could better meet its research and teaching potential with improved facilities.  Specifically, it was concluded that the following facility-related issues should be addressed: a) the replacement of headquarters and associated outbuildings used for storage; b) the construction of adequate housing for researchers; c) the construction of a small lab with basic scientific equipment and meeting space; d) the construction of a lathe house to support a variety of open air experiments; e) and, to facilitate research of riverine ecosystems and tree canopy biology, the construction of aquatic sampling and tree canopy platforms.  With some or all of these issues resolved, the minimal framework for conducting comprehensive research and teaching would be in place, and public outreach activities would be enhanced.

Center for Environmental ScienceIn 1998, the Angelo Coast Range Reserve, with the assistance of the NRS, applied for and gratefully received approximately $1.2 million dollars from the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund to build a “Center for Environmental Science.”  Construction of the Environmental Science Center with a meeting room, simple laboratories, computer and collection rooms, an office, and a screened lathe house was completed in summer 2002. The structure addresses the need for lab, computer, and meeting space at the Reserve. On-site administrative activities and collections have moved from the headquarters to the new Center, and classes and research teams can be accommodated. (See Building Use Policy). In addition to lab and meeting spaces, a rudimentary canopy access facility was constructed along a river-to-ridge elevational gradient in the reserve. 
Current Programs: Research, Teaching , Outreach

The importance of the site to University of California researchers and students is evidenced by the number of people who have carried out environmental research here since the 1980s. (Appendix 10). At the Angelo Reserve, researchers have had the opportunity to study impacts of perturbations as they occurred one at a time, such as effects of invading invading exotic bullfrogs on native frogs and other river biota (Kupferberg 1996,1997a, 1997b), and of invading pigs on meadow flora (Kotanen 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997a, 1997b), of impacts of drought (and consequently artificial flow regulation) on river food webs supporting salmonids (Power, Parker and Wootton 1996, Power 1992, Wootton et al. 1996, Parker and Power 1995), of excessive fine sediment loading on rearing salmonids (Suttle et al. submitted, Power et al. 2002), and of potential climate change on native and exotic meadow flora and fauna (Suttle in preparation).

Since the 1980s, field research has been conducted at the Angelo Reserve by faculty and students from a number of institutions, including U.C. Berkeley and U.C. Davis, Humboldt State University, the University of Chicago, Sonoma State University, and the University of Utah, Logan. A number of agency researchers have monitored the Angelo Reserve to check on the status of endangered species (spotted owls, marbeled murrelets) Field scientists from the USGS have sampled bacteria and physico-chemical properties of Elder Creek to establish baseline standards of purity for natural waters

Areas investigated by researchers at the Angelo reserve from 1986-2002 include:

  • River food web investigations: impacts hydrologic disturbance regimes, invading exotic species, and primary productivity on the structure and dynamics of food webs in the South Fork Eel
  • Effects of resource subsidies from rivers to watersheds: importance of aquatic insect production to terrestrial consumers and ecosystems
  • Controls of river incision into bedrock channels
  • Responses of meadow soils, plant assemblages, and food webs to changes in rainfall regimes predicted by global climate models
  • Impacts of deposited fine sediment on juvenile steelhead and the food webs that support them
  • Use of stable isotopes to delineate spatial scales of food web interactions in rivers
  • Controls on diversity and species interactions in assemblages of riparian plants within sedge tussocks
  • Frog conservation  biology:  oviposition habitat requirements of native foothills yellow legged frogs, and impacts of non-native bullfrogs
  • Tree physiology and consequences for forest dynamics
  • Impacts of non-native pigs on meadow flora


Crab SpiderThe Angelo Reserve has long served as a venue for field courses, and for graduate training in field research. Even before the reserve was first protected by the Nature Conservancy in 1959 environmental education took place at 'Camp Adventure'. Camp Adventure was established by three Bay Area men with strong ties to the YMCA. They purchased the White House and Wilderness Lodge properties in the early 50's for their own enjoyment but also to serve as a site for periodic summer camp for YMCA camp counselors-in-training. The Camp Adventure properties were added to the Preserve in 1961.

Environmental education was fairly informal and episodic during the first 15 years of the Nature Conservancie's tenure on the reserve, consisting of occasional field trips by local schools and short informal summer camp for Bay Area youth. The level of these activities fluctuated with the whims and interests of local teachers and preserve managers, and others who had ties to The Nature Conservancy in the Bay Area. Beginning around 1976 a more formal environmental education program was developed by student interns from UC Davis and Hayward State University with support from The Nature Conservancy, and regular spring use by local 6th grade classes became the norm for the next 12 or so years. During this period as many as 300 students would visit the Preserve during the spring season for three day stays. With their teachers and parent chaperones, and often an intern from Hayward State, the students participated in environmental activities exposing them to concepts in hydrology, aquatic ecology, botany, general ecology, and others.

Since 2003 the Angelo Reserve has been involved with the 'Exploring California Biodiversity' project run by the UC Berkeley Natural History Museums and funded by the National Science Foundation. The primary goal of the project is to inspire in urban children an appreciation for the overwhelming diversity of life. Graduate fellows associated with UC Berkeley Natural History Museums work with middle and high schools in the San Francisco Bay Area using the facilities and resources of the Berkeley Natural History Museums and the Berkeley Natural History Field Stations, including the Angelo Reserve. The program involves field trips, the building and studying of natural history collections in the K-12 schools, additional study of BNHM collections, and the use of interpretive tools. In addition to working with schools in the San Francisco Bay Area, in 2006,graduate Fellow, Ryan Hill began working with teachers in the local school district in order to introduce their students to the biodiversity at the Angelo Reserve.


The Angelo Coast Range Reserve, originally protected by Heath and Margorie Angelo in concert with The Nature Conservancy and the Bureau of Land Management continues to benefit from partnerships and long-standing agreements with other individuals and organizations. The Nature Conservancy monitors the Angelo Reserve annually to ensure that terms of the conservation easement, under which it conferred fee title to the University of California, are being fulfilled. The U.C. Natural Reserve System and the University of California Berkeley campus co-finance the reserve, with an annual budget of ca. $55,000 to cover the salary of the reserve steward, along with facility support and maintenance costs. Environmental monitoring stations have been purchased and installed with funding from individual research grants from the National Science Foundation. Hardware for satellite connectivity for highspeed computer links has been recently provided by funds from the John and Mary Gompertz Chair to Professor Power in Integrative Biology at UCB, and monthly fees are covered by the National Center for Earth Surface Dynamics (NCED), a new NSF Science and Technology Center based at the University of Minnesota. The Angelo family has provided a gift for the restoration and upkeep of the Angelo homestead, and friends and neighbors have demonstrated support for the reserve by granting temporary access to their lands for research purposes that they have approved

The Angelo Reserve has a positive presence in the Branscomb Laytonville Willits community because of the open access for the public to hiking in the reserve.  Members of the public are restricted to day hikes, with no pets, motorized vehicles, or overnight stays.  An informal friends association, The Horseshoe Bend Foundation, was established by members of the Angelo-Steel families and Sharon Johnson, one of the original TNC stewards at the reserve in the early 1980’s  Recent discussions among Sharon Johnson, Peter Steel, Dean Edell, and Mary Power have covered the possibility of reviving this group, with an eye towards fund raising for acquisition funds (several opportunities to buy adjacent lands affecting the reserve have arisen over the years); restoration of the historical white house, scholarships for student researchers, and other possible programs.


 All users - General Reserve Use policy

The Angelo Reserve is available to any qualified student, teacher, or researcher whose use has been approved by the Reserve Manager, in consultation with the Faculty Manager.  A basic application (give print out-able form on web address) must be completed to access and use the Reserve. Based on NRS guidelines, there are three sets of applications: Group/Class Use; Research Use; and Public Access.  All proposed research is reviewed by the Reserve Manager and the Reserve Faculty Director prior to arrival. Initial inquiries about research should be sent to the Reserve Manager:

Peter Steel,
U.C Angelo Reserve,
42101 Wilderness Lodge Road,
Branscomb, CA 95417
Telephone: phone:(707)984-6653

A class or group application requests basic information about the visit, as well as a brief statement concerning the purpose of the visit.  A research application requests information concerning the nature of the research, and questions about animal use and collecting permits.  Projects and other activities will be carefully evaluated for their scientific or educational merit, and, importantly, for their impact on the natural resources and values of the Reserve.  A guiding principle for the Angelo Reserve and other UC Natural Reserves is that present use should not compromise the ability of future investigators to learn about past or present processes in the natural ecosystems represented at the site.   A rule of thumb for the Angelo Reserve is that if major legacies of a proposed use are predicted to last more than a few years past the termination of the activity, it will not be approved unless the scientific opportunity to learn about the ecosystem is truly unique and extraordinary. The evaluation of use impact will take into account both the nature and intensity of the manipulation or activity, and the resiliency of the areas to be used.  For example, holes from sediment excavation in the river channel will disappear during scouring winter floods during most winters.  Sediment excavation on steep hillslopes, on the other hand, could oversteepen banks, leading to long term erosion and inputs of damaging fine sediment into the river channel. Figure 3 (Figure under preparation) shows a map of the Angelo Reserve with zones indicating habitats that are known or hypothesized to be fragile or resilient to impacts that involve trampling, soil disturbance, or manipulation of vegetation.

For projects and activities that are approved based on their merit and potential impact, approval will be based on a first come, first served basis, subject to the following prioritization:Wilderness Lodge in Winter

  •  Long term (e.g. dissertation) research will have priority when it conflicts with teaching or outreach activities.  All reasonable efforts will be made by researchers, however, to accommodate (e.g. by accepting temporary re-arrangement of housing, etc.) short-term teaching and outreach activities that do not severely disrupt their projects.
  • When there are more acceptable activities proposed than the Reserve can accommodated, priority will be given  to:
    • researchers whose project requires this protected natural site (as opposed to researchers whose projects could feasibly be carried out in other more commonly represented environments
    • to researchers with affiliations at Berkeley (including collaborative partners, e.g., agency scientists coordinating regional studies in partnership with UC, NCED PI's), followed by researchers at any other U.C. Campus, followed by researchers at other colleges and universities.  We do not foresee needs for these restrictions in the near future, however  .

User-days at particular habitats will be limited to the numbers indicated on figure 3 (under preparation), to avoid long-term degradation of fragile biota and environments.

All Users (but especially researchers) - State, Federal and UC policies regulating reserve use

Research and other uses of the Angelo reserve are regulated by a variety of policies and guidelines (Federal, State, UC, NRS, UCB) that are summarized in Table X and included in full as appendices X-X. For certain policies (indicated with *) permits and approval should be obtained prior to arrival at the field station.






Animal Care and Use *

Use of live vertebrate animals in research or teaching



Field collecting permits*

Collecting of plant and animal species

Federal: NMFS

State: DF&G


Research in remote sites

Researcher safety when working > 1 hour from other personnel

Angelo Reserve, County police


Chemical safety program for hazardous materials

Chemical use in laboratories







Guidelines for Evaluating Mitigation Projects on NRS Reserves

Reserve participation in mitigation projects



Non-native genotypes

Introduction of exotic genotypes into UC Reserves



Table 1 – UC, State and Federal policies and guidelines affecting use of the Angelo Reserve

Full compliance with appropriate policies is required for all use of the Angelo reserve. Copies of approved UC Berkeley animal protocols and fishing permits must be given to the Reserve Manager upon arrival and before commencing work. 

All Users: Health and Safety Procedures and Policie

All users of the reserve are responsible for complying with environmental health and safety regulations (from http://www.ehs.berkeley.edu/policy/responsib/individs.html)

  • Comply with applicable environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, University policy and accepted safe work practices. (add Links)
  • Observe environmental, health and safety related signs, posters, warning signals and written directions.
  • Be familiar with the emergency plan (SEE BELOW), the emergency assembly area (MAP – SECTION XX) and emergency coordinators for their building, and participate in emergency drills.
  • Learn about potential hazards associated with their work and work area; know where information on these hazards is kept for their review; and use this information when needed.
  • Follow safe operating procedures and Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) guidance applicable to work performed, if the work involves hazardous materials.
  • Follow procedures and observe precautions for the use of special materials (such as carcinogens or biohazards), as detailed in the use authorization or other operating procedures.
  • Use personal protective equipment and engineering controls (e.g., fume hoods) appropriate to their work.
  • Curtail or stop their work if they reasonably believe continuation of the work poses an imminent danger to health or safety, and immediately notify a supervisor in the chain of authority over the work.
  • Report all unsafe conditions to their supervisor or safety committee as soon as is reasonably possible.
  • Warn co-workers about defective equipment and other hazards.
  • Participate in health and safety training applicable to their work situation.
  • Participate in required inspection and monitoring programs.
  • Familiarize themselves with risks associated with research or teaching in a rugged natural environment and minimize risks wherever necessary. Safety information pertaining to these risks is held at (XXX) and links to this information are given in table 2 below.


Safety information

Field Research

Safety Guidelines for Field Research

Mountain lions

Living with Mountain lions

Black bears

Living with California Black Bears


Rattlesnake bites


Guidelines for Handling Animal Reservoirs of Hantavirus

Bees and wasps


Poison oak

Identifying Poison Oak

Trauma injuries



Fire safety for fieldwork
Fire safety for animal behavior stations
Fire safety in residence halls and housing facilities


Day hike policy

Table 2: Sources of information for natural hazards at the Angelo reserve

 All Users: Emergency response plan

Fire: If users are caught inside the Reserve in a wildfire, vehicular egress out of Wilderness Lodge Road is likely to be blocked by fallen trees. Users should try to get into a cooled burned area, or take temporary shelter where the vegetation is sparse (reserve meadows, very wide gravel bars along the river). Look for a depression in the ground and clear as much vegetation and flammable "ground litter" as you can. Then lie face down in the depression and cover yourself with anything that will shield you from the heat. Avoid natural chimneys and topographic saddles. A natural chimney is a narrow, steep canyon that concentrates heat and updraft (e.g. much of the canyon bound river corridor). Saddles between hills are wide natural paths for fire, winds, and vegetation; fires tend to be drawn up and over these depressions with great speed and intensity. Temperatures from a fire racing through these natural conditions can exceed several thousand degrees Fahrenheit and quickly use precious oxygen.

If you're in a vehicle, move it to bare ground or a sparsely vegetated area, close all windows and doors, lie on the floor, and cover yourself with a jacket or blanket. Keep calm, stay in the vehicle, and let the fire pass. If there is time, users near the Wilderness Lodge Meadow could build backfires to reduce fuel around them, then wait the fire out under wet blankets. When the wireless infrastructure is in place, we will have telphone and radio links with which to guide helicopter rescues.

All Users: Building and Reserve facility use, road regulations etc

The following policies and rules apply to all users:

  • Arrangements for visits must be made well in advance by contacting the Reserve Manager.  Individuals with special needs should make their requirements known to the Reserve Manager well in advance.
  • Nominal fees are charged for overnight use.  Please contact Reserve Manager for more information.  (Link to fee schedule)
  • All buildings are to be kept clean and ordered.
  • No food (human or animal) is to be left in containers that can be chewed open by rats or mice.  All containers (beverage, food, other substances) to be washed of odors that attract bears before placing these in recycling bins.  Odorous garbage to be secured in bear-proof dumpsters away from dwellings.
  • Campfires are permitted in three designated areas:  the rock ringed fire pits just north of the Headquarters building, the fire pit just west of Skunk Creek Pavilion, and the fire pit just west of Fox Creek Lodge.
  • Smoking is strongly discouraged due to fire hazard and health threats. Smoking is only permitted outside near fire rings if other users are not exposed to second hand smoke.
  • Alcohol is permitted but is not to be consumed by minors, and to be used responsibly by others
  • Driving:  the speed limit on the narrow, steep dirt road within the reserve is 13 mph.  Exceeding this speed is unsafe, damaging for the road and the vehicle, and imposes a higher risk of mortality on animals.  Please observe the speed limit of 20 mph on Wilderness Road, approaching the Reserve from Branscomb Road (Fig. 2).  Local residents feel that their pets and children are at risk when UC users exceed this speed, even by 5 mph.
  • All supplies (lab, library books, journals, computer supplies, folding chairs in conference room) picked up and replaced to appropriate storage areas after they are used (daily storage not required if activities are ongoing).  If you do remove shared equipment or library materials that others may need, leave a note.  If you are the last to use up expendable shared supplies, make arrangements to replenish them.
  •   Library:  reprint collection—2 copies each reprint to remain in library, available for short term loans for copying, reading.  Scanner and copy machine available in library?
  • If shared supplies used, replace them before they are depleted.  Keep check list of “we have/ we need”

Research users

In addition to the policies and rules above, research users should also follow the following rules:

  • Projects of individuals to be contained with space allocated unless more space negotiated. 
  • If equipment stops working, report to lab manager or responsible person whose email address will be labeled on the equipment.  User will arrange with this person for repair or replacement.  Responsible persons will be assigned to certain equipment, depending on use and experience.
  • Chemical waste generated at Angelo must be carefully packaged in resistant containers and returned to a campus location for proper disposal according to environmental health and safetly guidelines (eg at see EHS at Berkeley). We encourage researchers to minimize activities that produce such wastes by performing on site only those analyses that are too time sensitive to wait for transport of samples to a laboratory.
  • Neighboring lands and inholdings.  We maintain cordial relationships with neighbors to our east and north by respecting their private property.  Researchers wishing to visit or engage in studies on the Johnson-Edell property to the west of the reserve must describe their intended use and its duration to Peter Steel, who will then seek permission.  If granted, the user is obliged to report results of the study to the land owners via Peter Steel, and to remove all traces of markers and manipulations expeditiously after use.  Passage through lands to the use that belong to the Sieberts (e.g. confluence of South Fork Eel and Ten Mile Creek) require prior permission from Peter Steel, and conspicuous manipulations are not allowed at that site.
  • Conflicts over use (overcrowded, or conflicting needs for projects) to be mediated by Pete Steel and Mary Power.  (eventually, by a Reserve Science Manager).

Detailed policy statements for the following areas are currently under development (for more information, see Appendices 8 and 9): 

Endangered and exotic species and genotypes. 

The Angelo Reserve, like all ecosystems in California, is altered by invasions of non-native plants (e.g. star thistle, European grasses), invertebrates (Argentine ants, honeybees), and vertebrates (e.g., bullfrogs, pigs, turkeys).  Some of these invasives do considerable damage to native biota and ecosystem processes.  Deliberate introduction of exotic species is prohibited, and activities oriented towards reduction or control of established exotics on the reserve are encouraged (but treatment of vertebrates is subject to ACUC protocols for humane procedures).

A policy is under discussion regarding reasonable measures that will reduce the likelihood of the introduction of Phytophthora spp., the microbe responsible for Sudden Oak Death, into the reserve.  The Angelo Reserve is particularly vulnerable to this invasion because of the density and dominance of tannoaks (Lithocarpus densiflora) in reserve mixed deciduous forests.  We now request that researchers coming to the Angelo Reserve from areas known to be infected wash mud from their boots and field equipment, and use commercial car washes (several are available in Fort Bragg or Willits) before introducing SOD spores to the reserve.

An increasingly worrisome and more cryptic threat to the ability of future biologists to decipher distributional patterns and adaptations of organisms arises when non-local genotypes of taxa native to reserves are introduced.  We follow the UCNRS guidelines (http://nrs.ucop.edu/staff/nonnatives.html) regulating the introduction of non-native genotypes to reserves.

If projects involving non-native genotypes are approved at the Angelo Reserve due to extraordinary scientific merit, we urge the responsible researchers to make every possible effort to prevent the spread of non-local propagules outside the spatial and temporal domain of their experiments.

Information  Management and Database Policy

Data management to build an information infrastructure is now a top priority for Angelo and other field research reserves. Information infrastructure is arguably more important to a field research reserve than its “bricks and mortar” facilities.  A well curated data base enables researchers to build on the work and context of others, and alerts them to cases in which their findings may be influenced by previous land use or experimental manipulations. Increasingly, we recognize the importance of historical context in documenting environmental and biotic trends and events.  In collaboration with the newly organized spatial informatics groups at the Berkeley Natural History Museum (John Deck, Craig Moritz, Collin Bode, MVZ web sites?), and at the UCNRS (Kevin Brown, Cyndi Luc? Mike Hamilton, Dan Dawson web sites, emails), we intend to capture, archive, and disseminate the data and information generated by researchers about the Angelo Reserve.  To help us in this endeavor, we require generated by researchers about the Angelo ReserveTo help us with this endeavor, we require that researchers:

  • Submit written summaries of their research questions and hypotheses, followed by observations and results while working at the Reserve.  Specify GPS coordinates of study sites.  Permanent, but relatively inconspicuous markers (e.g. tree tags) to monument location of studies are encouraged; these should be sufficiently annotated to identify the project, and located with GPS  coordinates that are reported in writeup.  Reports should be submitted to Peter Steel within two months after each field season, on an annual basis.
  • Send two copies of all published research conducted through the use of the Reserve must be sent to the Reserve Manager.  Published research should acknowledge use of the Reserve using the following approved wording ‘This work was performed (in part) at the University of California Natural Reserve System Angelo Coast Range Reserve’

Table 3 summarizes the various research policies specific to the Angelo reserve that are not included in Table 1 or are supplemental to this information



Non-native genotypes

Prevent spread of propagules

Spread of SOD

“ “    and Under development


Inconspicuous but well annotated and located

Location of study sites

GIS coordinates to reserve manager in annual reports


Due two months after each field season and at least annually


Two copies to reserve manager


Using NRS approved wording

Table 3 – Research policies at the Angelo Reserv

Educational activity users

Facilities at the Angelo Coast Range Reserve are periodically used for courses sponsored by academic departments in the UC system. Courses can be taught during all four seasons, weather permitting. Use of site is scheduled on a space available basis.

It is strongly suggested that group leaders sign up well in advance (e.g. 6-12 months).  Contact Peter Steel (contact information above) for application forms, or these can be printed from the web (under preparation - will link to web address) and mailed. Risk forms must be reviewed and completed.  Groups with minors need to make arrangements several weeks in advance to ensure forms can be forwarded to and completed by the responsible parties.  Please contact Reserve Manager for more information.

Community outreach users

Subject to restrictions depending on user-day zoning guidelines, and potential interference with research projects.