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Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute

The Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute's sign.



The Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute, part of Rocky Mountain Research Station, is an interagency, national research facility on campus at the University of Montana. The institute was established (as an interagency facility) in 1993, but was preceded by a Forest Service Wilderness Research Management Unit established in 1967, a few years after the passing of the Wilderness Act, in 1964.

The Leopold Institute is the only federal research group in the United States dedicated to development and dissemination of knowledge needed to steward the 110 million-acre U.S. National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) and similarly protected wild lands.

Leopold Institute scientists have a long history of conducting and sharing science in support of the NWPS, as well as collaborating with academic, NGO, tribal, community, and other partners within the U.S. and internationally.

In addition to being administered by RMRS, the Institute’s work is responsive to an Interagency Wilderness Policy Council. This collaboration, defined by an interagency agreement among the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and U.S. Geological Survey and facilitated through an Interagency Wilderness Steering Committee, helps to ensure the institute’s work is relevant to federal wilderness managers. 

Please visit the Leopold Institute’s interagency website to learn more.



The Leopold Institute includes nine full-time staff (three ecologists, two social scientists, a biologist, director, deputy director, and an administrative lead). We also periodically employ research assistants, graduate students, and post-doctoral associates, and host visiting scholars from around the globe. Our purpose is to advance wilderness stewardship through transformational science and respond to the needs of wilderness management agencies. We conduct, support, and coordinate research that fits into one of three broad categories: science for wilderness, wilderness for science, and wilderness in the landscape context. Research efforts include in-house studies as well as cooperative projects with scientists from other organizations across the U.S. and internationally.

790 East Beckwith Avenue
Missoula, MT 59801