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Maureen Essen

Mo Essen

Social Science Analyst

800 East Beckwith Avenue
Missoula, MT 59801-5801
Contact Maureen Essen

Research Interests

I am interested in the complex problems inherent to management and governance of natural resources, public lands, and social-ecological systems. This often includes supporting adaptive approaches to management and governance, investigating the role of institutional learning in informing management activities and policies, conflicts over land management and policy, and collaborative or network approaches to this type of governance.

Why This Research is Important

Natural resource management is complex and challenging and must adapt to conditions as they change. Many regions depend on natural resource management decisions and activities as they can affect their access to resources, such as clean water or recreation sites, and their exposure to hazards, like wildfire. A complicated web of public and private entities, from national agencies to local landowners and non-governmental organizations, manage land within a sea of policies, procedures, mandates, and viewpoints. This is a significant transboundary environmental management task, with each institution and individual serving a role and carrying out management activities. Providing information, including analysis of driving components, activities, actors, and their interactions and innovations can support adaption and informed management in these complex systems.


  • Universtiy of Montana, M.S., Resource Conservation
  • SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, B.S., Environmental and Forest Biology
  • The photo shows a suburban neighborhood interwoven with trees.
    To understand how local, state and federal investments are shaping North Central Washington's wildfire management system, a team of researchers with the Co-Management of Fire Risk Transmission Partnership (CoMFRT) conducted a survey of nearly 300 wildfire management professionals. The analyses identifies who is part of the wildfire management system, what their roles are, where they work, and how they are connected to each other. 
    Forest biomass is a promising feedstock (raw material to supply or fuel a machine or industrial process) for the production of bioenergy, biofuels, and bioproducts because it is renewable and widely available as a byproduct of forest management. However, there are many obstacles have that have prevented more widespread use of forest biomass. This project was set in place to quantify and evaluate these obstacles so that land managers can overcome them.