The Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research InstituteThe Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute is dedicated to the development and dissemination of knowledge needed to improve management of wilderness, parks, and similarly protected areas. Located on the University of Montana campus in Missoula, the Leopold Institute was formally established in 1993 by the U.S. Forest Service and is administered by the Rocky Mountain Research Station. The Institute operates under an interagency agreement among the federal agencies that have wilderness management or research responsibility – the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey.
Wilderness Research PrioritiesA combination of multidisciplinary and interagency collaboration among scientists and managers allows the Leopold Institute to address issues pertinent to wilderness stewardship. Presently, specific research programs at the Institute follow the broad themes of:
- Recreation experiences and the impacts of recreation
- Relationships between people and lands protected for their wilderness values
- Stewardship of wildland fire as a natural process
- Wilderness in the context of larger ecological and social systems
- The delivery and application of scientific knowledge and tools
Research ApplicationMaking scientific information useful and accessible to managers and others interested in wilderness management is the goal of the Leopold Institute's Research Application Program (RAP).
The RAP features four resources for locating wilderness research information:
- Research in a Nutshell - Nutshells highlight results, management implications, and associated publications and products for selected research conducted through the Institute.
- Linking Wilderness Research and Management series of annotated reading lists
- Volume 1 - Wilderness Fire Restoration and Management
- Volume 2 - Defining, Managing, and Monitoring Wilderness Visitor Experiences
- Volume 3 - Recreation Fees in Wilderness and other Public Lands
- Volume 4 - Understanding and Managing Invasive Plants in Wilderness and Other Natural Areas
- Volume 5 - Understanding and Managing Backcountry Recreation Impacts on Terrestrial Wildlife
- Publications Database
- Projects Database
- Wilderness Recreation Database
Hot TopicsIn addition to our research priorities, the Leopold Institute is involved in the following specific topics that are timely and critical to sustaining wilderness. The Leopold Institute has:
- Addressed the challenges of maintaining and restoring fire to wilderness areas.
- Addressed the challenges of managing for naturalness and wildness.
- Been developing a program to monitor aspects of wilderness character.
- Worked to understand day and high-density recreation use.
- Conducted research on recreation user fees.
- Developed a handbook and sponsored workshops on recreation use estimation.
- Evaluated recreation education techniques and low impact practices.
- Developed wilderness maps of the National Wilderness Preservation System.
- Developed a research framework for the value of wilderness water.
- Tried to understand the controversy around wildlife management activities in wilderness (e.g., fish stocking).