[Photo courtesy of Utah State University-Moab]

Utah State University announced this week that Dr. Steven Burr has been added as a full-time professor teaching in the recreation and resource management program at USU’s Moab campus.

With access to two national parks, a national forest, Bureau of Land Management recreation lands and a state park, Moab is a natural fit for Burr, who brings 27 years of higher education experience to the recreation resource management program.

With USU-Moab becoming the center for an education in recreation resource management, school officials say Burr will be a valuable resource for students in Moab, as well as students across the state who are enrolled in the university’s distance education program.

His duties will include coordinating, teaching and advising students. Recreation resource management students learn to strive for a balance between continuing to conserve and protect natural resources, while making these resources available for recreational use through policy development, innovative planning and management.

“This is especially important for Moab, Grand County and southeastern Utah’s recreation economy because of the preponderance of public lands in the area, related outdoor recreation and tourism, and economic impact and community development,” Burr said.

Burr said he is passionate about the natural environment, resulting from exposure to the outdoors and nature at an early age growing up in Wisconsin.

His parents sent him to a YMCA summer camp in the Northwoods area, where he camped and canoed among the vast forests and hundreds of lakes.

Burr returned to the camp every summer and participated in longer, more advanced programs that included extended wilderness canoe trips into Canada. He worked at the camp while completing a bachelor’s in zoology/ ecology from DePauw University and eventually became the camp’s associate director after earning his master’s in recreation and park management from the University of Oregon.

In 1994, Burr completed his doctorate in recreation, parks and leisure studies from Penn State University. In 1999, after six years at Western Illinois University, Burr joined the faculty in the S.J. Quinney College of Natural Resources at USU in Logan.

“We are excited for Dr. Burr to join us here in Moab and bring his wealth of knowledge in the recreation resource management field,” USU-Moab Dean Steve Hawks said. “Local industries continue to grow, and (he) will be a valuable resource for our community as important decisions are made regarding Moab’s future.”

Burr will also continue his work as a USU Extension specialist through the Institute for Outdoor Recreation and Tourism. His current areas of interest, expertise and research include outdoor recreation and natural resources-based tourism policy, planning, management and marketing; rural and community tourism development; sustainable tourism development; and the human dimensions of natural resources management.

“Healthy economies are based on healthy environments,” Burr said. “Healthy public lands play a huge role in the economies of rural communities, (and that is) especially true here in Utah, but outdoor recreation and tourism-based businesses should really only be part of a mix that contributes to a diverse economy in rural communities.”

Burr’s efforts reach statewide, having worked on former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman’s Outdoor Recreation Task Force and the board of directors for the Utah Office of Tourism in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

Burr currently serves on the advisory committee for the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation. He is also the vice president for the Friends of Utah State Parks Board and chairs the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Advisory Committee, representing social sciences with expertise in outdoor recreation and tourism and community development.

In 2011, Burr was appointed by U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to the BLM-Utah Resource Advisory Council, representing dispersed recreation, tourism and community development. Current U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell reappointed him in 2014.

For more information about the recreation resource management program at USU-Moab, go to moab.usu.edu.

Dr. Steven Burr comes to job with 27 years of higher ed experience

Healthy public lands play a huge role in the economies of rural communities, especially true here in Utah, but outdoor recreation and tourism-based businesses should really only be part of a mix that contributes to a diverse economy in rural communities.