Institute for Land, Water, and Air

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In this section we address a few of the most urgent topics; the changing nature of Utah lands, forest health, rangeland health, and the management of threatened species. All of these topic areas are influenced by drought, which makes their management more complex, more difficult, and more uncertain.

Water-related work stretches across Utah State University and the state, where a broad community engages in water research and outreach. Researchers collaborate with stakeholders throughout Utah to help sustain water resources to meet both human and ecosystem needs.

Air pollutants have an undeniably profound effect on illness and death. While statewide efforts have improved Utah’s air since the enactment of the Clean Air Act, several of Utah’s airsheds continue to face challenges meeting the current NAAQS.

We briefly document these issues here and point to some unique opportunities to enhance recreational amenities and experiences in the state. And hope to build a shared understanding of the problems and opportunities associated with outdoor recreation policy, management, and promotion.

This chapter highlights five topics that combine multiple issues involving the dynamics of land, water, and air. It’s critical to understand and manage these multi-faceted aspects of natural systems to find viable, efficient, and socially acceptable solutions. Interdisciplinary research helps to define those relationships and to seek for potential solutions.

Utah State University is building new pathways to engage policy makers with important research in land, water, and air. The institute is an interdisciplinary initiative designed by President Noelle Cockett to bring together two critical discussion spaces—USU’s research programs and state, county, and city governments—to create a positive impact for Utah. To strengthen that connection, the institute reports directly to the Office of the President and collaborates closely with the Office of Research and the Vice President for Federal and State Relations.


USU envisions a Utah with a high quality of life for our citizens that values and optimizes our state’s shared resources while managing continued growth.


The institute brings together USU land, water, and air researchers and connects them with Utah problem solvers.


  • Listening and feedback
  • Data-driven decision making
  • Compelling communication
  • Shared partnerships
  • Non-partisan perspective

RESEARCH by the Numbers


USU faculty researchers in the areas of land, water, and air


Land/water/air professors at USU who have had Utah research partnerships


Utah cities that participated in USU land/water/air events in 2020