DEFENSIBLE RESEARCH TO INFORM DECISIONS
Outdoor recreation and tourism resources contribute significantly to local and regional economies, and residents’ and visitors’ quality of life. Consequently, important stakeholders and constituencies closely follow, debate, and sometimes scrutinize managers’ and policy officials’ decisions regarding outdoor recreation, education, and tourism. Those charged with managing outdoor recreation, education, and tourism activities and resources often need defensible, timely, and cost-effective evidence to inform and ultimately defend their decisions. Using applied research results to inform outdoor recreation, education, and tourism decisions has become standard practice and integral to ensuring that high quality experiences and outcomes are responsibly developed and maintained. The Outdoor Recreation, Education, and Tourism Lab (ORET) at the University of Utah assists decision-makers in this process.
The mission of the Outdoor Recreation, Education, and Tourism Lab (ORET) is to provide defensible evidence that informs decisions and enhances outcomes. Specifically, ORET exists to conduct applied research, locally and internationally, that addresses issues faced by managers, educators, and policy officials.
- Provide decision-makers with timely, cost-effective, and defensible evidence to inform their most important decisions.
- Develop, disseminate, and catalogue knowledge, publications, and applied solutions to issues regarding outdoor recreation, education, and tourism.
Current and Previous Research Partners
- The U.S. National Park Service, Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Utah State Parks
- The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), the American Camp Association, and the Natural History Museum of Utah
- The International Ecotourism Society, the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, and the World Travel and Tourism Council
About Our Research
The research team at ORET works closely with each partner to provide tailored services prescriptive to particular agencies, problems, and contexts. We use mixed methods research, including but not limited to:
- Infrared trail and traffic counting
- GPS tracking of recreationists and tourists to determine spatial and temporal distributions of use
- Evaluation of outdoor recreationists’ and tourists’ monetary expenditures
- Questionnaires, interviews, and collaborative public meetings
- Time-lapsed photography
- Outdoor recreation and tourism demand assessments
Assessments of certification and guidelines for best practice approaches to management and development
- Workshops to integrate results
- Presentations to boards, legislative bodies, and associated partners
- Defensible technical reports and research summaries
- Baseline or updated maps and data
- Peer-reviewed publications