Dr. Baur is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Science and Recreation at San Jose State University. In addition to research and scholarship, he teaches courses in research and evaluation, and facility planning and management. Baur is currently the coordinator for the Recreation and Recreation Management undergraduate programs at SJSU, and has a courtesy faculty appointment at Oregon State University.

Baur completed his bachelor's degree in anthropology at the University of California, San Diego, focusing on cultural anthropology. He completed his Master of Science degree in environmental policy and behavior at the University of Michigan, School of Natural Resources and Environment. Baur completed his Ph.D. (Forest Resources) in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University, where his dissertation focused on the relationship between small scale urban green spaces and human wellbeing in Portland, Oregon.

View or download Dr. Baur's CV here.


Dr. Baur's research focuses on the relationship between humans and the natural environment. Baur's study of human ecology occurs primarily in the context of urban and developed settings, looking specifically at recreation and leisure behavior of urban and city dwellers, and the relationship urban people have with the natural surroundings in and around developed areas.

Baur has investigated the relationship city dwellers have with small scale (5 acres or less) city green spaces, public attitudes about city parks, the impacts time spent in nature settings has on physical and psychological wellbeing, the influence of green spaces on sense of community, and public attitudes and perceptions about urban forest ecosystem services. Baur is also looking at the social and ecological impacts of homelessness on national forest lands.

Among other research areas Baur is developing, he is especially interested in exploring how time spent in natural spaces within developed areas impacts spiritual wellness.


Urban Parks and Psychological Sense of Community

Parks and other urban natural spaces are increasingly becoming recognized as valuable for supporting socially healthier urban communities. Currently, however, there remains a relative shortage of empirical research specifically evaluating the relationship. This study explores psychological sense of community (PSOC) and its relationship to urban parks, using survey data collected in Norfolk, Virginia. Regression, t-test, and chi square analyses were used to examine how park use frequency and proximity are related to overall PSOC and its components. Our findings suggest that park use has a relationship to PSOC among respondents in our sample. More significantly for park planners and managers, our results also suggest that the presence of nearby parks, regardless of visitation, also has a positive relationship to PSOC.

Urban Parks and Attitudes about Ecosystem Services: Does Park Use Matter?

In this study, we explored how visitation to urban green spaces relates to attitudes about urban forest ecosystem services among city residents. We used responses to a general population survey of urban residents in four Oregon, USA, cities to explore whether visits to urban and urbanproximate green spaces (such as parks and forest reserves) had a relationship to people’s attitudes about urban forest ecosystem services. We also looked at a relationship between use frequency and familiarity with urban forest and ecosystem concepts. Results from our sample suggest that visitation frequency to urban green spaces has a positive relationship with attitudes about urban forest ecosystem services. We found that, in general, more frequent urban green space visitors had a greater familiarity with urban forest and ecosystem terms, and were more tolerant of problems (i.e., disservices) associated with urban trees and green space. Visitation frequency was less strongly associated with beliefs about threats to urban forests. Our results give some indication that urban natural resource management in Oregon could benefit by promoting urban natural area visits. Our data suggest that increasing visitation to urban parks, forest reserves, or other designated natural areas would likely coincide with greater public understanding and support for urban natural resource management. Among the strategies that may encourage more visitation, maintenance and general upkeep are very important. For example, infrequent visitors in our sample rated trash and litter accumulation and loitering as more substantial problems associated with urban forests and green spaces than more frequent visitors. Ensuring that potential users perceive a safe and inviting setting may increase visits. Most parks and recreation departments in the U.S. are facing shrinking budgets although volunteers can accomplish many basic maintenance and upkeep tasks. Partnering with community groups and local businesses will also provide outreach and engagement opportunities that can promote greater public support for park and recreation departments.

Attitudes about urban nature parks: A case study of users and nonusers in Portland, Oregon

Facing shrinking budgets and increasing urban development pressures, natural resource professionals are challenged to ensure urban green spaces remain a planning priority for decision makers. Urban green spaces like nature parks contribute to quality of life by providing physical and psychological benefits, as well as ecosystem services. Urban nature parks that are responsive to public needs will be valued by the public, who will ultimately express their interests through voting. In order for management to be responsive to the public, park professionals need to understand public attitudes about urban nature spaces.

Small-Scale Urban Nature Parks: Why Should We Care?

Small-scale urban natural parks have the potential to contribute to the health and well-being of urban communities. Although recreation researchers have seldom focused on such areas, recreation research theory can be successfully applied to urban natural parks, especially if augmented by the application of social capital and social networks theory. Social capital and networks theories will aid recreation researchers and policy makers in understanding the processes and benefits associated with urban green space. This understanding may be important relative to low income urban community members who may not participate regularly in nature-based recreation.

This case study used an attitude model developed in social psychology to examine Portland, Oregon users' and nonusers' attitudes about city nature parks. Few studies have attempted to capture information from nonusers and users simultaneously. Results from our sample, obtained from a randomly distributed mailback questionnaire, revealed significant attitude differences between users and nonusers.

Urban park professionals in Portland can use our results to differentially guide management and outreach for each group. Watching urban wildlife influenced nonuser attitudes, for example, so targeted outreach to nonusers might highlight this activity. Nonusers are especially important to reach given that they represent potential growth in constituency and advocacy. To ensure continued positive experiences among users, management and outreach could appeal to their biocentricism. If Portland's park professionals demonstrate that they are responding to public attitudes, Portland's citizens will feel that they matter to park managers, and can be expected to respond in kind.

Crime in woods: role of law enforcement officers in national forests

This first nationwide study of US Forest Service (USFS) law enforcement officers (LEOs) examined respondents' roles in the USFS, what they perceived as their highest work priority, and what their relationship with the rest of the USFS should be. Results show that LEOs believe they have a high priority for protecting forest users and they believe that National Forest System line officers have higher priorities for protecting resources, employees, and public property. LEOs are evenly divided about whether their authority and jurisdiction are adequate for what they feel is expected or demanded of them. Results suggest a need for change in budgeting, staffing, and communicating organizational priorities. Despite these concerns, many LEOs expressed a desire to work for the public good, keep visitors safe, and protect the land base.

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