Utah State University Moab students enrolled in the recreation resource management program are seeing the program grow and expand with the addition of Wayne Freimund, a professor in the Department of Environment and Society. An expert in outdoor recreation, Freimund will teach classes on recreation policy and planning with plans for field-based classes in Moab, according to a statement from the university.
“I have always enjoyed visiting Moab and have a strong love for the national parks and wildland in the area,” Freimund said. “I am thrilled to join the Moab community and make it not only my research base, but also my home.”
During his career, Freimund has conducted research in southern Utah at both Arches and Canyonlands national parks, having known about USU’s recreation resource management program for decades.
As the state’s land-grant university, a main part of USU’s mission is to share its teaching, research and service expertise, and provide educational opportunities, with everyone in Utah, no matter their location. As he joins USU Moab, Freimund hopes to grow the program’s reputation and provide current and prospective students with hands-on research opportunities in a world-class setting of southeastern Utah.
USU’s recreation resource management program has a long history at the university, beginning at the main campus in Logan, and having expanded to its statewide campuses in later years. The program focuses on teaching land management and how to accommodate recreational use, as well as interpreting natural values of the lands to recreational visitors.
“Recreation resource managers play a vital role in maintaining the multiple use of our public lands, have good people skills and a solid understanding of natural resources,” said Freimund. “The location of USU Moab and its proximity to several national parks and tourist areas makes it an ideal place to study and learn on-site.”
Students enrolled in the program receive a background in biological sciences, including courses in wildlife and fish diversity, plants and ecology. The curriculum also places a strong focus on the human dimensions of natural resources, including planning and management; environmental interpretation; sociology and psychology of recreation; and environmental economics, history and law.
Freimund started visiting Moab in the 1980s and has watched both the town and surrounding area grow and change over the years as tourism has increased. And today, as one of the leading authorities on visitor capacity management and the strategies that surround that issue, Freimund appreciates that community members are engaged and care about the defining issues affecting the area.
Regarding Freimund’s hire, USU Moab administrators say it reflects the university’s commitment to create excellent programs at its statewide campuses.
“A big benefit of having USU campus and faculty in Moab is the research and outreach that benefits our community,” said Rich Etchberger, vice provost and professor at USU Moab. “Wayne’s research will address questions about managing our recreation resources right here in Moab.”
Prior to joining USU, Freimund served at Clemson University as a professor and chair of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. Before his time at Clemson, Freimund was a professor for 23 years at the University of Montana. While at Montana, he served as interim dean of the College of Forestry and Conservation for two years and was the director of the UM Wilderness Institute for nine years.
Freimund has a bachelor’s degree in recreation, park and leisure studies from the University of Minnesota. He earned a master’s degree in wild land management from West Virginia University, and a doctorate in forestry and recreation resource management from the University of Minnesota.