UC Irvine's Anza-Borrego Desert State Park research center just got a $2.8-million windfall, according to a news release from the university.

The California Wildlife Conservation Board awarded the facility the Proposition 84 funds for new construction.

Biologists, astronomers, anthropologists and other scientists use the center in eastern San Diego County.

The money matches another $2.8 million UCI spent on seismic upgrades at the facility. The Conservation Board grant will fund a new lab building, a dormitory for 24 students, a long-term apartment complex for researchers, a locker room, storage, lighting and parking.

Proposition 84, approved by voters in 2006, provided matching grants for university facilities researching — among other topics — water and natural resource protection.

"This upgrade will let the center offer university students unique research experiences in the desert; engage the Borrego Springs community in outreach and education; and give our partners — California State Parks and the Anza-Borrego Foundation — access to resources that also serve their missions," Travis Huxman, director of the research center, said in a prepared statement.

UCI hopes to begin construction as early as May.

— Jeremiah Dobruck

Twitter: @jeremiahdobruck