Natural resource policy and management decisions are made based on a combination of political will, practical considerations, and science inputs. The effective use of science in decision making depends not only on the integrity of the process for developing new science, but on the review and synthesis of existing science, and the relevance, access to, and usability of that science to specific plan, management, or policy decisions.

Our mission is to provide access to integrated knowledge and information to inform natural resource decision making and develop solutions in the context of sustainability.

Legislative Purpose

The Institute for Natural Resources (INR) was established by the Oregon Legislature in 2001 through the Oregon Sustainability Act. INR is a cooperative enterprise of Oregon’s public universities tasked to link the scientific knowledge and expertise of universities and other research entities with natural resource decision making. In Oregon statute, ORS 352.239, INR:

  • serves as a clearinghouse for scientifically based natural resources information,
  • provides scientifically based natural resources information to the public in integrated and accessible formats,
  • coordinates efforts with other state agencies and bodies to provide natural resources information to the public in a comprehensive manner,
  • facilitates and conducts research,
  • provides information and technical tools to assist decision making on natural resources issues, and
  • assists the State Parks and Recreation Commission in carrying out the Natural Areas Program. 

Role within Oregon’s Public Universities

Oregon State University (OSU) is designated to lead and administer INR. INR, however, is located on both the OSU and Portland State University (PSU) campuses, and has Vice Presidents of Research from these universities and the University of Oregon on its advisory board.

As a research institute within OSU and PSU, INR helps decision makers identify and use relevant science in making natural resource policy and management decisions. At INR’s foundation is the land grant mission – building synergy and connections between research and practice, and communicating knowledge and uncertainty to decision makers, communities, and the public.

In the context of sustainability and natural resource decision making, INR seeks to:

  • bridge science and decision-making efforts,
  • provide Oregonians with ready access to current, science-based information and methods,
  • increase the usefulness  and usability of integrated, science-based information,
  • focus on interdisciplinary natural resource and environmental challenges,
  • develop new collaborative relationships to address these challenges,
  • identify opportunities for applied research that benefits Oregon’s natural resources and environment, and
  • identify and investigate controversial natural resource issues that challenge resource management and/or governance.

Merger with the Institute for Water and Watersheds

INR has recently merged with the OSU Institute for Water and Watersheds (IWW) to focus on water-related issues. IWW is the state water resources research institute for Oregon and is one of the 54 state- or territory-based institutes established by the 1964 Federal Water Resources Research Act. In this role IWW serves similar integrative functions to INR, but focused on water resources research and education. Paired with INR’s data and information management and accessibility functions, the merger of INR and IWW expands our ability to address multi-agency and multi-disciplinary resource issues.

Through the merger, INR and IWW will share an advisory board, staff, and continue to carry out our related mission of informing natural resources decision making.