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Peter B. Landres


790 East Beckwith Avenue
Missoula, MT 59801
Contact Peter B. Landres

Current Research

My current research focuses on two main topics. First, to help improve wilderness stewardship nation-wide, I'm leading interagency efforts to integrate the concept of “wilderness character” into planning, management operations, and monitoring.

The second focal area of my research is developing decision-support tools for whether ecological restoration actions should be taken in wilderness. For example, climate change is increasingly forcing wilderness managers to confront the very complex challenge of whether restoration actions should be taken inside wilderness to mitigate the effects of climate change. Part of this challenge is determining the primary or basic purpose for what a wilderness is managed for. These decision-support tools will integrate federal laws and policies, the most current scientific information, and the underlying ethical and philosophical meanings that commonly underlie most decisions yet are commonly not explicitly stated. The overall intent for these decision-support tools is to have a transparent, comprehensive, and systematic approach for making these fraught decisions.

Research Interests

My research is broadly aimed at developing the strategies and tools for improving wilderness stewardship nationwide, and specifically the knowledge needed to protect and sustain ecological systems in wilderness. Wilderness management decisions are based on scientific information as well as on agency policies and social values, and my research reaches into all of these topics.

Past Research

My recent past research has largely focused on developing the concept of wilderness character in practical terms that wilderness managers and others can apply in planning, management operations, and monitoring. This research laid the foundation for evaluating the outcomes of wilderness stewardship in preserving wilderness character, which is the primary mandate of the 1964 Wilderness Act and all subsequent wilderness legislation.

Why This Research is Important

Our nation's wilderness is unique and increasingly threatened from many different directions. Only by understanding what wilderness is and the outcomes of our stewardship can we as individuals and as a society truly value and sustain this resource. All of my research, past and present, is focused on understanding what wilderness is, the basis for how it's managed, and the outcome of this management. With this knowledge, my intent is to help improve wilderness stewardship and derive the enduring benefits from this unique resource of wilderness.


  • Lewis and Clark College, B.S., Natural Science, 1972
  • Utah State University, Ph.D., Ecology and Biology, 1981
  • Publications

    Cooke, Brian; Hahn, Beth; Landres, Peter B., 2018. Keeping it wild: Asking the right questions to guide wilderness management
    Tricker, James; Schwaller, Ann; Hanson, Teresa; Mejicano, Elizabeth; Landres, Peter B., 2017. Mapping wilderness character in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
    Burrows, Rob; Tricker, James; Abbe, Dan; Landres, Peter B.; Paynter, Jon; Schirokauer, David; Hooge, Philip, 2016. Mapping wilderness character in Denali National Park and Preserve
    Naficy, Cameron E.; Keeling, Eric G.; Landres, Peter B.; Hessburg, Paul F.; Veblen, Thomas T.; Sala, Anna., 2016. Wilderness in the 21st Century: A framework for testing assumptions about ecological intervention in wilderness using a case study of fire ecology in the Rocky Mountains
    Landres, Peter B.; Barns, Chris; Boutcher, Steve; Devine, Tim; Dratch, Peter; Lindholm, Adrienne; Merigliano, Linda; Roeper, Nancy; Simpson, Emily, 2015. Keeping it wild 2: An updated interagency strategy to monitor trends in wilderness character across the National Wilderness Preservation System
    Landres, Peter B.; Stutzman, Suzy; Vagias, Wade; Cook, Carol; Mills, Christina; Devine, Tim; Dingman, Sandee; Lindholm, Adrienne; Stuebe, Miki; Memory, Melissa; Scott, Ruth; Bilecki, Michael; O'Neil, Ray; Holbeck, Chris; Turina, Frank; Haynie, Michael; Craighead, Sarah; Jenkins, Chip; Curtis, Jeremy; Trevino, Karen, 2014. Keeping it wild in the National Park Service: A user guide to integrating wilderness character into park planning, management, and monitoring
    Tricker, James; Landres, Peter B.; Fauth, Gregg; Hardwick, Paul; Eddy, Alex, 2014. Mapping wilderness character in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
    Carver, Steve; Tricker, James; Landres, Peter B., 2013. Keeping it wild: Mapping wilderness character in the United States
    Tricker, James; Landres, Peter B.; Chenoweth, Jennifer; Hoffman, Roger; Ruth, Scott, 2013. Mapping wilderness character in Olympic National Park
    Adams, Ashley; Landres, Peter B.; Kingston, Simon, 2012. A database application for wilderness character monitoring
    Hourdequin, Marion; Landres, Peter B.; Hanson, Mark J.; Craig, David R., 2012. Ethical implications of democratic theory for U.S. public participation in environmental impact assessment
    Cowley, Jill; Landres, Peter B.; Memory, Melissa; Scott, Doug; Lindholm, Adrienne, 2012. Integrating cultural resources and wilderness character
    Tricker, James; Landres, Peter B.; Dingman, Sandee; Callagan, Charlie; Stark, John; Bonstead, Leah; Fuhrmann, Kelly; Carver, Steve, 2012. Mapping wilderness character in Death Valley National Park
    Landres, Peter B.; Vagias, Wade M.; Stutzman, Suzy, 2012. Using wilderness character to improve wilderness stewardship
    Hobbs, Richard J.; Cole, David N.; Yung, Laurie; Zavaleta, Erika S.; Aplet, Gregory H.; Chapin, F. Stuart III; Landres, Peter B.; Parsons, David J.; Stephenson, Nathan L.; White, Peter S.; Graber, David M.; Higgs, Eric S.; Millar, Connie; Randall, John M.; Tonnessen, Kathy A.; Woodley, Stephen., 2010. Guiding concepts for park and wilderness stewardship in an era of global environmental change
    Landres, Peter B.; Boutcher, Steve; Dean, Liese; Hall, Troy; Blett, Tamara; Carlson, Terry; Mebane, Ann; Hardy, Carol; Rinehart, Susan; Merigliano, Linda; Cole, David N.; Leach, Andy; Wright, Pam; Bumpus, Deb, 2009. Technical guide for monitoring selected conditions related to wilderness character
    Landres, Peter B.; Hennessy, Mary Beth; Schlenker, Kimberly; Cole, David N.; Boutcher, Steve, 2008. Applying the concept of wilderness character to national forest planning, monitoring, and management
    Landres, Peter B.; Barns, Chris; Dennis, John G.; Devine, Tim; Geissler, Paul; McCasland, Curtis S.; Merigliano, Linda; Seastrand, Justin; Swain, Ralph, 2008. Keeping it wild: an interagency strategy to monitor trends in wilderness character across the National Wilderness Preservation System
    Cole, David N.; Yung, Laurie; Zavaleta, Erika S.; Aplet, Gregory H.; Chaplin, F. Stuart III; Graber, David M.; Higgs, Eric S.; Hobbs, Richard J.; Landres, Peter B.; Millar, Constance I.; Parsons, David J.; Randall, John M.; Stephenson, Nathan L.; Tonnessen, Kathy A.; White, Peter S.; Woodley, Stephen, 2008. Naturalness and beyond: Protected area stewardship in an era of global environmental change
    Landres, Peter B.; Barr, Brad; Kormos, Cyril F., 2008. The matrix: A comparison of international wilderness laws
    Thelen, Giles C.; Vivanco, Jorge M.; Newingham, Beth; Good, William; Bais, Harsh P.; Landres, Peter B.; Caesar, Anthony; Callaway, Ragan M., 2005. Insect herbivory stimulates allelopathic exudation by an invasive plant and the suppression of natives
    Landres, Peter B.; Boutcher, Steve; Merigliano, Linda; Barns, Chris; Davis, Denis; Hall, Troy; Henry, Steve; Hunter, Brad; Janiga, Patrice; Laker, Mark; McPherson, Al; Powell, Douglas S.; Rowan, Mike; Sater, Susan, 2005. Monitoring selected conditions related to wilderness character: a national framework
    Miller, Carol L.; Landres, Peter B., 2004. Exploring information needs for wildland fire and fuels management
    Alpert, Peter; Western, David; Noon, Barry R.; Dickson, Brett G.; Bobiec, Andrzej; Landres, Peter B.; Nickas, George, 2004. Managing the wild: should stewards be pilots?
    Landres, Peter B.; Alderson, Judy; Parsons, David J., 2003. The challenge of doing science in wilderness: historical, legal, and policy context
    Landres, Peter B.; Spildie, David R.; Queen, Lloyd P., 2001. GIS applications to wilderness management: potential uses and limitations
    Miller, Carol L.; Landres, Peter B.; Alaback, Paul B., 2000. Evaluating risks and benefits of wildland fire at landscape scales
    Landres, Peter B.; Brunson, Mark W.; Merigliano, Linda; Sydoriak, Charisse; Morton, Steve, 2000. Naturalness and wilderness: the dilemma and irony of managing wilderness
    Watson, Alan E.; Cole, David N.; Friese, Gregory T.; Hendee, John C.; Landres, Peter B.; Geary, Thoms F.; Stokes, Gerald L.; Jarvis, Jeff; Henry, Wes, 1999. Wilderness uses, users, values, and management
    Cole, David N.; Landres, Peter B., 1996. Threats to wilderness ecosystems: impacts and research needs
    Cole, David N.; Landres, Peter B., 1995. Indirect effects of recreation on wildlife
    Landres, Peter B.; Cole, David N.; Watson, Alan E., 1994. A monitoring strategy for the national wilderness preservation system
    Denali National Park and Preserve
    The recent development of an interagency strategy to monitor wilderness character allows on-the-ground managers and decision-makers to assess whether stewardship actions for an individual wilderness are fulfilling the legislative mandate to “preserve wilderness character.” By using credible data that are consistently collected, one can assess how wilderness character changes over time and evaluate how stewardship actions affect trends in wilderness character.
    Boundary waters canoe area wilderness
    Beginning in 2013, the Superior National Forest partnered with the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute to develop a map of threats to wilderness character in the BWCAW. The primary goal of this project was to spatially depict how threats to wilderness character vary in magnitude and extent across the wilderness. This project was also intended to improve our understanding of the current condition of wilderness character, contribute to planning efforts by facilitating the evaluation of broad-scale impacts to wilderness character, and create a baseline from which changing threats to wilderness character can be monitored over time.
    Wilderness managers in North Cascades National Park opted for chemical treatments to remove invasive fish species (Photo by National Park Service staff).
    Altered disturbance regimes and changing ecosystem dynamics in wilderness areas have increased the importance of having an evaluation framework to support transparent decision-making for ecological restoration actions. A recently created wilderness evaluation framework questionnaire allows for improved communication between land management agencies and wilderness stakeholders.
    Saguaro National Park Thumbnail Image
    The purpose of this project was to develop an approach that spatially depicts threats to wilderness character and how they vary across the Saguaro Wilderness. The maps produced through this project depict the Saguaro Wilderness’ current degree of departure or degradation from an “optimal condition” of wilderness character. 
    As we approach the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, the combination of rising population, land use and climate change with other landscape stressors is driving ecological restoration to be one of the single most important, challenging, and potentially litigious wilderness stewardship issues because decisions need to incorporate diverse legal, scientific and ethical considerations.
    In 2008, the interagency "Keeping It Wild" wilderness character monitoring strategy was published and the four wilderness managing agencies quickly embraced it. It established a scientifically sound and rigorous approach to developing comprehensive baseline data on the unique characteristics of each wilderness.