Leopold Institute & Carhart Center celebrate silver anniversary

MONTANA – Twenty-five years ago this summer, in the spirit of cooperation, the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and USDA Forest Service came together to create the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute (link is external) (Leopold Institute) and the Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center (link is external) (Carhart Center).

These premier federal interagency organizations provide unparalleled leadership in the field of wilderness science, professional development and stewardship for the National Wilderness Preservation System. They carry forward the passion, determination and hope of their namesakes, Aldo Leopold (link is external) (1887-1948) – father of wilderness conservation and wildlife ecology, and Arthur Carhart (link is external) (1892-1978) – first federal employee to propose protecting public lands in their undeveloped state, championing the idea of wilderness protection in the United States.

Over the last quarter century since 1993, these organizations have conducted more than 300 wilderness science projects, trained over 30,000 women and men responsible for wilderness stewardship and provided information and education to millions of visitors. The ongoing work of the Leopold Institute and the Carhart Center helps inform every day management and decisions that benefit the people, lands, waters and wildlife within our National Wilderness Preservation System.

“I am proud of the dedicated Carhart staff who provide critically acclaimed training to wilderness leaders across the U.S.”, stated Carhart center director, Andrea Gehrke. “Their guidance in stewardship of wild and protected lands has influenced natural resource managers across the nation and around the world.”

Looking toward the future and the next twenty-five years, both organizations plan to continue their success by providing the foundational support to assist federal wilderness managers, and using integrated approaches to wilderness science and stewardship. 

“Our scientists know how important these unique public lands are and they value providing the information that agency staff need to manage and protect American wilderness,” stated Susan Fox, Leopold Institute director. The Carhart Center and Leopold Institute are focused on the reality that what we do today, as federal stewards, will be of long-term importance to what generations in the distant future will or will not have.

The mission of the Leopold Institute is to provide high quality science that responds to the priority needs of wilderness managers, planners and wilderness organizations—while also advancing scientific scholarship (link is external).

The mission of the Carhart Center is to preserve the values and benefits of wilderness for present and future generations by connecting agency employees and the public with their wilderness heritage through training, information and education.


Dr. Jeff Marion (USGS) leads a crew evaluating sustainability of the Appalachian Trail. Photo courtesy of United States Geological Service.