Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit

Partnering with federal agencies, universities and other institutions for research, technical assistance, and education to enhance understanding and management of natural and cultural resources.

About the CESU Network

Managing federal lands and waters is complex. Agencies' responsibilities overlap across jurisdictions and authorities, and agencies' priorities sometimes conflict with others'. Effective stewardship of federal lands requires agencies to work across boundaries cooperatively. The Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Units (CESU) Network is a national consortium of federal agencies, tribes, academic institutions, state and local governments, nongovernmental conservation organizations, and other partners working together to support informed public trust resource stewardship. The CESU Network includes 371 partners, including 15 federal agencies in seventeen CESUs representing biogeographic regions encompassing all 50 states and U.S. territories. 

Technical assistance is a key part of the goal of the CESU National Network, which was established “to improve the scientific base for managing federal lands by providing resource managers with high-quality scientific research, technical assistance, and education through working partnerships involving federal agencies, universities, tribal groups, state agencies, and nongovernmental organizations.”

The Institute for Natural Resources (INR) represents Oregon State University (OSU) within the Pacific Northwest CESU and the Colorado Plateau CESU.  We:

  • represent OSU at CESU meetings;
  • assist in matching the agencies' research, technical assistance, and education needs with OSU faculty assistance; and
  • help advise OSU faculty regarding the development of scopes of work with PNW CESU-affiliated faculty.

OSU is also a member of the Great Basin CESU.


The Pacific Northwest CESU

The Pacific Northwest CESU (PNW CESU) – hosted by the University of Washington – includes Oregon State University, Portland State University, the University of Oregon, and Southern Oregon University among its 17 academic institutions, one state agency, and 11 federal agencies dedicated to natural and cultural resource management. Through ongoing 5-year master agreements, the PNW CESU aims to:

  • provide research, technical assistance and education to federal land management, environmental and research agencies and their potential partners;

  • develop a program of research, technical assistance and education that involves the biological, physical, social, and cultural sciences needed to address resource issues and interdisciplinary problem-solving at multiple scales and in an ecosystem context at the local, regional, and national level; and,

  • place special emphasis on the working collaboration among federal agencies and universities and their related partner institutions.

Since the PNW CESU Agreement began in October 2000, over $82 million in biological, physical, social, cultural and interdisciplinary sciences projects have been funded, with OSU receiving the largest proportion of the funds.

Federal Partners


  • Bureau of Land Management

  • U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

  • U.S. Geological Survey

  • National Park Service

  • Bureau of Ocean Energy Management


  • U.S. Forest Service

  • Natural Resource Conservation Service


  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Civil Works

  • Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Installations and Environment)  


  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


The Colorado Plateau CESU

The Colorado Plateau CESU (CPCESU) is hosted by Northern Arizona University and operates under ongoing 5-year master agreements.