US Forest Service Research & Development
Contact Information
  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Dale Blahna

Dale Blahna

Research Social Scientist
400 N. 34th St., Suite 201
United States

Phone: 206-732-7833
Contact Dale Blahna

Current Research

My research examines: (1) urban natural resources stewardship and governance in the Puget Sound area, (2) public and agency perceptions of cultural ecosystem services of the Deschutes National Forest, (3) use of ecosystem services and the forest planning rule in the forest plan revision process, and (4) plannning for sustainable human uses in Prince William Sound.

I am also project lead for two PNW Research Station urban research partnership efforts: the Green Cities Research Alliance and the Urban Waters Federal Partnership for the Green-Duwamish Watershed. These are interdisciplinary efforts that focus on understanding the social and ecological co-benefits of trees and green infrastructure along the urban to wildland gradient in the Pacific Northwest.

Research Interests

  • The application of social science data, concepts, and methods to natural resource and environmental planning and decisionmaking
  • Study of visitor behavior and recreation management practices¬†
  • The evaluation of agency land management planning, public involvement, social assessments, policies, and practices

Past Research

While I was at Utah State University (1991-2006), most of my reserach focused on recreation and the use of social science in planning for the Forest Service, BLM, National Park Service, and Utah State Parks. Some projects included: (1) Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument study of visitor uses, characteristics, and community expenditures, (2) Utah Rivers Study: visitor use, crowding, and preferences on eight whitewater rivers, (3) framework for estimating community-resource use linkages for National Forests in Utah, (4) Korean and Japanese visitors on the San Bernardino National Forest: Collection of nontimber forest products and their motivations and management preferences, (5) forest recreation participation and use barriers of urban ethnic minorities in Chicago, and (6) use of public involvement methods and data in national forest planning.

After joining the Forest Service (2007), I worked on studies of the motivations and benefits of citizen-based environmental stewardship activities and a national study of the use of recreation and other social science information in NEPA project analyses. I also led teams invovled in applying forest inventory (iTree-Eco) and health assessment tools (Forest Landscape Assessment Tool) in the Seattle area, and helped fund projects to understand urban foraging behavior in Seattle and Portland.

Why This Research is Important

Ecosystem management and sustainability requires blending data and methods from social, economic, and ecological sciences. Yet land management agencies focus much more heavily on biological and physical sciences than on important social and economic factors. This can lead to poor decisions (socially and ecologically), unnecessary levels of social conflict, and significant political fallout. My research applies concepts and methods of social science to better understand public values and uses of natural resources and evaluates processes and frameworks for integrating social, ecological, and economic factors in planning and decisionmaking.


  • University of Michigan, Ph.D. Natural Resources 1985
  • University of Wisconsin-Steven Point, M.S. Natural Resources 1979
  • University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, B.A. Biological Aspects of Conservation 1976

Professional Organizations

  • University of Washington, Affiliate Faculty (2007 - Current)
  • U.S. Forest Service, Research Social Scientists And Team Leader (2007 - Current)
  • Utah State University, Faculty-Assistant/Associate Professor (1991 - 2006)
  • Utah State University, Director, Insitute For Outdoor Recreation & Tourism (1991 - 2004)
  • Northeastern Illinois University, Faculty-Assistant Professor (1987 - 1990)
  • University of Michigan, Postdoctoral Reserach Associate, Natural Resources Sociology Reserach Lab (1985 - 1986)
  • U.S. Forest Service, Sociologist-Internship (1985 - 1986)
  • University of Michigan, Graduate Teaching & Reserach Assistant (1979 - 1985)

Awards & Recognition

  • Chief's Honor Award, US Forest Service, 2017
    Urban Waters Federal Partnership for the Green-Duwamish Watershed.
  • Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal, People's Choice Award, 2017
    National Urban Waters Federal Partnership for the Green-Duwamish Watershed
  • Nominated for Robbins Award, Utah State University, 2017
    For USU Professor of the Year
  • Oustanding Service Award, USU Honors Program, 2017
    For teaching and advising students in the USU Honors Program.
  • Presidential Faculty Excellence Award, Northeastern Illinois University, 2017
    Presented to faculty member of each college who is voted by students as the best teacher.
  • Science Findings Award, PNW Reserach Station, 2016
    For ecosystem service research, shared with Bob Deal, Jeff Kline, Nikola Smith.
  • Certificate of Merit, PNW Reserach Station, 2014
    For superior performance
  • Engaging Urban America, PNW Reserach Station, 2011
    Station Director's award for leadership of the Green Cities Research Alliance
  • Certificate of Merit, PNW Reserach Station, 2010
    For work to produce the Goods, Services, and Values Program Charter.
  • Certificate of Appreciation, USGS Fort Collins Science Center, 2006
    For keynote and summary addresses for symposium on public land planning for OHV management.
  • Distinguished Leadership Award, Society for Human Ecology, 2005
    For helping organize, fund, and conduct SHE annual conference.
  • Valedictorian Commencement Escort, 2004
    USU College of Natural Resources valedictorian picks their most influential faculty member to lead them in commencement parade.
  • Faculty Book Award, USU Honors Program, 2000
    For teaching courses and advising students in the USU Honors Program.
  • Teacher of the Year, USU College of Natural Resoruces, 1999
    Given annually to the teacher voted by students and faculty as the best teacher.
  • Outstanding Service Award, USU Honors Program, 1994
    Top annual award given for teaching and advising students in the USU Honors Program.
  • Valedictorian Commencement Escort, 1994
    USU College of Natural Resources valedictorian picks their most influential faculty member to lead them in commencement parade.
  • Behavior & Environment Award, University of Michigan, 1981
    Monetary award given each year to help support one graduate student project in each department of the College of Natural Resources.

Featured Publications & Products


Research Highlights


Supplementing Recreation Monitoring with Social Media Data

Social media data can augment existing recreation monitoring programs to provide finer resolution estimates of recreation use. USDA Forest Servi ...


Washington's Green-Duwamish Watershed joins Urban Waters Federal Partnership

The Green-Duwamish Urban Waters Federal Partnership focuses on salmon recovery and environmental justice initiatives, with the added goal of cr ...


Last updated on : 08/17/2021