Dave Parsons

Dave Parsons stands in front of a large mountainous wilderness area. He has on large sunglasses and is giving the camera a cheesy smile.


In 2010 David retired as the founding Director of the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute, a position he held since 1994.  Located in Missoula, Montana, the Leopold Institute is an interagency program that provides leadership in the development and application of knowledge related to the diverse ecological and human values of wilderness and similarly protected areas.  Prior to moving to the Leopold Institute David spent 21 years as a research scientist for the National Park Service at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in California.  In that position, he developed and coordinated research programs in the broad areas of visitor impacts, fire ecology and the effects of air pollution and climate change.  He is a plant ecologist by training, having received a BA from the University of California at Davis and a PhD from Stanford University.  He is widely recognized for his efforts to apply his ecological expertise to the application of science to management and policy issues in support of parks, wilderness and other protected areas.  He is widely published with over 130 published peer reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and book reviews.


David currently holds appointments as an Emeritus Scientist for both the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service where he has worked with Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks to solidify the scientific background for their wilderness stewardship plan.


A middle-aged Parsons stands in front of a large and dramatic mountain range in a floppy hat, smiling brightly at the camera.



From 2001 to 2006 and again from 2010 to 2016 David served on the Board of Directors of the George Wright Society (GWS) and was the Co-Chair of the 2003 and 2005 GWS conferences.  He has also held leadership positions with the Ecological Society of America, serves as a member of the IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas, has helped organize four World Wilderness Congresses (India, South Africa, Alaska and Mexico).  His hobbies include most outdoor activities, but especially hiking, backpacking, and travel.  He has lived and studied in Spain, Chile, Colombia and Costa Rica.  He currently resides in the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana.