Randy Lehr faculty


Earned and Honorary Degrees

PhD Water Resources Science, University of Minnesota
MS Water Resources Science, University of Minnesota
BS Biology, Winona State University


I grew up on the Mississippi River, just outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota. In college, I studied ecology and was involved in undergraduate research to assess the health of trout streams in southeastern Minnesota and backwaters of the Mississippi River. In grad school, my research focused on developing indicators of ecosystem health for coastal wetlands throughout the Great Lakes. Professionally, my work has blended different elements of science, education, recreation and outreach to understand the relationship between different social systems and the ecosystems that support them and promote the restoration and protection of public lands and waters. I have worked on Pacific Salmon recovery efforts in the Pacific Northwest, sustainable aquaculture and community development in coastal Ecuador and food systems, water quality protection and land use planning throughout the Great Lakes region. I really enjoy the diversity of this work and the opportunity it has provided for me to engage with different groups around the country and world.

At Northland, my work focuses on integrating student learning—mostly through applied research and service-learning projects—with research and outreach efforts to promote leadership development and support conservation, sustainable development and ecosystem management throughout the Great Lakes region. I split my time between the natural resources program teaching courses in ecological restoration, integrated ecosystem management, and natural resource policy and codirecting the Burke Center for Freshwater Innovation.


My research is broadly related to environmental assessment and ecosystem restoration. I am very interested in understanding the processes by which environmental change occurs and how individuals and communities can be more effectively engaged in efforts to protect and restore ecosystem health. My current research focuses on: (1) assessing climate change impacts in Lake Superior and supporting regional initiatives to adapt to future climate conditions; and (2) understanding how different groups use and value water resources and how different ecological processes and public policies support and promote different values over time.

Most of my work is collaborative and interdisciplinary and I am currently working on projects that partner with faculty, staff and students on campus and a wide range of scientists, natural resource professionals, citizens and elected officials throughout the region. Partners include: Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa; National Park Service; US Forest Service; US Environmental Protection Agency; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Wisconsin Costal Management Program; Wisconsin Sea Grant; Center for Rural Communities; Chequamegon Bay Area Partnership; University of Florida; University of Minnesota; Minnesota Pollution Control Agency; Three Rivers Park District; and a variety of local governments, schools and environmental nonprofit groups.

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