The 8051 acre Angelo Coast Range Reserve has been protected from major human disturbance since the late 1930s, and today, provides a crucial window into the workings of natural river, riparian, wetland, forest, meadow, and chaparral ecosystems of California’s North Coast. 

This Reserve was gifted by Heath and Margorie Angelo to The Nature Conservancy TNC in 1959. The land was the first gift to The Nature Conservancy West of the Mississippi, and for many years, the largest (see site history). Today, it is one of 39 protected natural areas  in the University of California Natural Reserve System. It is now co-managed for university-level research and teaching by the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California Natural Reserve System.

The protected upper watershed of South Fork of the Eel River in Mendocino County has been designated for university-level teaching and research. Angelo researchers collaborate with local and regional partners who share common interests of understanding the past, current, and future watersheds along the North Coast watersheds, including ways to protect them and use their resources sustainably. Angelo researchers also collaborate actively with national and international colleagues, most recently, as a member of the NSF Critical Zone Observatory network.

Since Heath and Marjorie Angelo protected their land in the 1930s, the population of California has increased over six-fold.  The Angelo gift, along with the 17 sq. km Elder Creek basin (designated as an area of critical ecological concern by the Bureau of Land Management)  together constitute one of the largest continuous tracts of undeveloped coastal conifer forest remaining in California. The reserve protects 5 km of the upper South Fork Eel River, four undisturbed tributary watersheds, mixed conifer broad-leaf forests, meadows on river terraces, and bands of chaparral at higher elevations.

The Angelo Reserve hosts several hundred visitors (faculty, researchers, students and citizens) each year, as well as classes, meetings and workshops. Between 1960-2022, research in the Reserve has produced more than 365 publications and 33 PhD dissertations or Master’s theses.  6 videos have been made about Angelo research. It is the main field observatory for two NSF Centers and for the Keck Hydrowatch Program.  Angelo currently hosts the NSF Eel River Critical Zone Observatory. Research facilities include laboratories at Goldman Environmental Science Center, rustic housing for ~ 40 persons, a small watershed that is intensely instrumented for hydrology, and a wireless backbone for a sensor and communications network.

Angelo Reserve is located in the Eel River Watershed which spans 3 counties in coastal northern California.