The James San Jacinto Mountains and Oasis de los Osos Natural Reserves are two of 39 natural reserves operated by the Natural Reserve System of the University of California. Established in 1965, the original purpose of the reserve system was to identify and preserve examples of each of the unique ecosystems found in California and to use them as outdoor laboratories for conducting research and university classes in the structure and function of these ecosystems.
The James Reserve was created in 1966 from a donation of land in the San Jacinto Mountains owned by Harry and Grace James (Visit History of the James page). Harry and Grace ran an outdoor boys school at the site where they trained young boys in outdoor lore and crafts. That tradition continues today at the James as people of all ages from PhD researchers to elementary students come to learn about the ecosystem that makes up the James.
Oasis de los Osos Reserve was created when The Nature Conservancy deeded a 160 acre parcel of land to the University of California (Visit History of Los Osos page). The land was an original homestead that eventually was bought by The Nature Conservancy with a donation from Mr. Robert Bear for whom the area is named (Bear in Spanish is Oso). As opposed to the forested James Reserve, Los Osos consists of desert habitat and provides research and educational opportunities to this unique and interesting ecosystem.