The Canyonlands Research Center


Founded in 2009, the Canyonlands Research Center is designed to address the most pressing challenges facing rural Utah and similar ecosystems around the world. The Canyonlands Research Center provides research and new information about how temperature, rainfall and land uses combine to affect the productivity and health of natural resources on the Colorado Plateau.

The Center brings together scientists, public land managers, ranchers and other local stakeholders to answer the questions that will define the future of the Colorado Plateau's environment and economy. To improve decision-making and facilitate more informed choices in this region, researchers at the Center aim to provide understanding on how climate change, land use, invasive species, altered fire cycles, and the interactions among these factors will affect ecosystems and the services they provide to human communities. Research topics are designed to translate into land management tactics and strategies that will produce tangible results.

The Center is housed at The Nature Conservancy's Dugout Ranch -- a gateway to the Canyonlands National Park, 20 miles northwest of Monticello. Spanning over 3,000 square kilometers with an environmental gradient ranging from 1,100-3,600 meters, the Center's study area is comprised of lands managed by the USDA Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service. As such, scientists have the opportunity to 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.

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