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Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute

A single standing tree surrounded by mostly fallen, dead trees and grass, and a few seedlings.

Fire refugia and forest resilience

Fire refugia are places within high-severity burns that remain unburned or burn with low severity. This study used satellite imagery and field data to better understand where fire refugia occur and how they promote forest recovery and ecosystem resilience.
Map depicts climate corridors – potential movement routes between current climate types and where those climates will occur in the future – for the western United States.

Human land uses reduce climate connectivity

Climate change will cause many species to shift their ranges. To do so successfully, individual organisms will need hospitable travel pathways. These climate corridors will be critical for species persistence.
A man and woman in a canoe on a river, smiling at the camera, with trees in the background.

Aldo and Leonardo: A wilderness science and art collaboration

The Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute and Colorado Art Ranch collaborated to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act by hosting artist residencies in six wilderness areas.

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 passing of the Wilderness Act, in 1964.

The Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute's sign.

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.