One of the advantages of traveling with an educational group is that you can often gain access to areas closed to the public. As I mentioned in my post on Zzyzx, I was part of a workshop organized by the San Francisco-based non-profit PhotoAlliance and lead by Stanford adjunct faculty member Robert Dawson. This pedigree, plus a stack of application paperwork, made it possible for us to visit the Sweeney Granite Mountains Desert Research Center. The Center was instrumental in the creation the University of California Natural Reserve System (UCNRS) of which it is now a part. Currently the UCNRS consists of 39 sites comprising more than 756,000 acres that include representatives of most major ecosystems in the state.