Anza-Borrego Foundation and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park have partnered with the University of California, Irvine to establish a field research center in Borrego Springs: the Steele/Burnand Anza-Borrego Desert Research Center.

ABF provided 75 acres of land to UCI that surrounds the original 3.75 acres purchased with the former Desert Club building. A primary goal of the partnership is to coordinate access to  Anza-Borrego Desert State Park for researchers and classes from the University of California, U.S., and International institutions. This partnership encourages research within Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and its environs to foster management of the Park’s natural and cultural resources informed by high-quality science.

The Research Center, housed in a former country club, is located adjacent to the Park in the town of Borrego Springs. The Center is open to classes and researchers from any institution with a research or educational mission. The facility supports field research by biologists, astronomers, anthropologists and others in the vast Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

New construction at the center throughout 2014 included a new laboratory building, two residential structures (a dormitory capable of housing 24 students and a four-unit apartment complex for long-term researcher use), a patio courtyard, locker-room facilities and improved parking. This upgrade allows the center to offer university students unique research experiences in the desert and engage the Borrego Springs community in outreach and education.

The center was made possible by a substantial donation from longtime Borrego Springs benefactor Audrey Steele Burnand in early 2011. The gift enabled UC Irvine to purchase the former Desert Club and fund the necessary renovations to the aging structure. In July 2011, the UC Natural Reserve System formally accepted the Steele/Burnand Anza-Borrego Desert Research Center as its 37th (and largest) site.

To date, the facility has housed researchers and classes from UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego/Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Augustana College (Illinois), Humboldt State University, UC Riverside, the U.S. Geological Survey (Denver) and the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California (Ensenada, Mexico ).