Hero Image

About Us

Pine Cones
The Hopland Research and Extension Center (HREC) is the University of California's principal field research facility for agriculture and natural resources in the North Coast region. A diversity of soils, plant and animal communities, and elevations makes HREC representative of many parts of the Coast Range in northwestern California. It is one of 9 Research and Extension Centers operated by the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources which is administratively separate from the UC campuses. Many researchers who use the Center hold faculty appointments at UC Davis or UC Berkeley or are UC Cooperative Extension advisors located in California counties.

In 1951, the University purchased the 4,630-acre Roy L. Pratt Ranch in Hopland, California to use as a site for long-term, controlled research on native rangelands, watersheds, and wildlife. Adjacent higher-elevation acreage was later acquired from the federal government. The Center now encompasses 5,358 acres of land with a deep history.


We at the Hopland Research and Extension Center, first and foremost acknowledge with honor the Shóqowa and Hopland People on whose traditional, ancestral, and unceded lands we work, educate and learn, and whose historical and spiritual relationship with these lands continues to this day and beyond.

For more information on the Indigenous and colonial history of this land please see this Land History Story Map.


Four principal vegetation types (grass, woodland-grass, dense woodland, and chaparral) are found here, including more than 600 plant species. Most of the acreage is rangeland of rugged topography, situated in the foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains, part of the Coast Range. Only about 25 acres of valley floor are irrigated and suitable for cropland. Riparian corridors are found throughout the Center in drainages from natural springs, and along Parson's Creek, a tributary of the nearby Russian River. Also on the Center are several natural ponds, as well as many seasonal vernal pools. The Center provides a rich, diversified opportunity for natural resources and agricultural research and extension programs, especially on topics pertinent to rangelands of the central and northern coast of California.

Historically, the Center's educational mission has focused on animal science, rangeland management, wildlife, plant science, entomology, and public health. Techniques developed at HREC for managing North Coast rangelands by the introduction of subterranean clover and fertilization with essential nutrients have significantly increased forage productivity and quality. Other research has included plant response to grazing, fire, and other management strategies. The role of native hardwoods, especially oaks, has received recent attention, with emphasis on sustainable management of valley oak (Quercus lobata) and blue oak (Quercus douglasii) stands. Plantings of wine grapes and pears provided opportunities for closely monitored variety trials, studies of plant productivity, and development of strategies for controlling insect pests and plant diseases.

The Center maintains a research sheep flock of 600 to 1,000 breeding ewes that graze the majority of the Center's rangelands. Lambing generally occurs between November and February, and shearing takes place in April. Many of the Center's sheep are involved in animal science or veterinary research projects.

The Center’s property supports more than 215 species of wild birds, 50 mammals, 15 reptiles, 12 amphibians, and 10 fish. The Center's Columbian black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus) are one of the most intensively studied deer populations on the West Coast. Other species that have received significant research attention include meadow voles (Microtus californicus), deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus), and coyotes (Canis latrans). The study of the ecology and behavior of predators receives continuing emphasis because of their impact on livestock. In addition, insect and other arthropods of medical and veterinary importance have been a main focus of field studies, with particular emphasis on mosquitoes and ticks and their epidemiological roles.

In addition to supporting a diversity of ongoing research projects, HREC is often the site of field trips, workshops, tours, and hands-on learning opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students from UC campuses and elsewhere.