KIRK L. NICHOLS, PhM portrait
  • Associate Professor (Lecturer) of Outdoor Recreation Studies, Parks, Recreation & Tourism
  • Academic Liaison/Advisor and Faculty, National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), Parks, Recreation & Tourism
  • Associate Professor (Lecturer), Parks, Recreation & Tourism

Research Summary

Historical Research on Public Property Rights: Effects on Federal Land Management Policies


  • Ph.M., Health, Kinesiology, and Recreation -- Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Program, University of Utah
  • M.S., Geography, University of Utah. Project: Thesis: Micro-habitat Affinities of Two Oaks and Their Natural Hybrid in Southern Utah, and Seedling Growth Phenology as Factors in Oak Distribution
  • B.S., Geography, University of Utah. Project: Geomorphology, Geographical Ecology, Resource Management


Professor Nichols’ personal and professional interests are broadly anchored in the outdoors. His guiding and instructing have taken him from Alaska to the Andes, from deserts to mountains to rivers to oceans. Teaching field courses for the University of Utah began in 1975 and continues today. In 1986, he was awarded a scholarship for an Instructor course at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and remains an active NOLS Expedition Faculty member. He also is charged with advising NOLS and their students on the curriculum and college credit granting relationship between our two schools.

Geography when defined as, anything that can be put on a map, is a spectacular window into the specialized worlds of geomorphology, eco-physiology, bio-geography, natural resource management, GIS, aerial cartography, remote sensing, paleo-climatology, synoptic climatology… you have the picture. Nichols’ observation that two species of oak (Quercus) and their hybrid organized themselves in a predictable manner across adjoining slopes in Zion National Park led to his Bio-Geography Master’s thesis. Don’t get him started on Quercus.

The outdoor world is not all climbing and kayaking, plants and animals, rocks and erosion but also people and their impacts. Policies of management can only be understood through the history of society’s relationship with the land. The politicians who can write policies to protect the land must also pay the bills of society and in this dual role there will always be conflict. Recreation on public lands will always cause detrimental changes to the environment. We must learn to minimize and adjust our human effects on the land, water, and life. 


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