Places We Protect

The Canyonlands Research Center


aerial view of Canyonlands research center.
Canyonlands Research Center Aerial Aerial view of the Canyonlands Research Center © The Nature Conservancy

Researching climate change and pioneering sustainable land management practices in the heart of Utah's canyon country.



In 2009, The Nature Conservancy launched the Canyonlands Research Center—a collaborative effort among TNC, universities and public agencies to make key advances in climate science and sustainable land use. The Center’s partners include: BLM, USFS, NPS, USGS, Utah State University and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. In the fall of 2009, TNC purchased the Dugout Ranch's cattle herd to use as a research tool in developing solutions for sustainable grazing.

Learn about three women behind the CRC and the race to save the Colorado Plateau.

Today the Center is an acclaimed outdoor laboratory attracting scientists from throughout the country and around the globe. As pressures on the lands and waters of the Colorado Plateau mount, the Center is helping to bridge the gap between science and land use, and providing new ideas to help people make responsible decisions for our arid lands.

The Center is housed at The Nature Conservancy's Dugout Ranch—a gateway to the Canyonlands National Park, 20 miles northwest of Monticello. Spanning 5,207 private acres, with an additional 335,030 acres of adjacent public lands, the Center's study area is comprised of lands owned by TNC, as well as lands managed by the USDA Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service. As such, scientists can study wide gradients of elevation, ecology and land-use histories, making the Center an ideal location for research on the effects of climate on ecosystem processes and community dynamics. The Center is also situated along the boundary of the Southwestern monsoon climate zone, making it particularly sensitive to climatic variation.

The Center's newest program, NATURE—Native American Tribes Upholding Restoration & Education, is designed to foster the next generation of environmental leaders and amplify diverse voices in the fight to combat climate change and sustain the lands of the Colorado Plateau.

Going Green

As part of The Nature Conservancy’s strategies to reduce its footprint, we’ve initiated a solar program that aims to offset 100 percent of the energy use at our six main facilities, including our main office in Moab and facilities at the Canyonlands Research Center (CRC). Through a grant generously provided by the John B. and Geraldine W. Goddard Family Foundation, we’ve installed roof-mounted solar panels and ground-mount arrays on all buildings at the CRC.

By making our operations greener and cleaner, we can help mitigate the effects of climate change both here at home and around the world.

Visitor Information

Because the Center is located within a working ranch, visitation is permited by appointment only. For more information, contact Sue Bellagamba in our Moab Project Office at or visit




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