George Melendez Wright   Logo   the landscapes that are important to members of the society
The Society strives to be the premier organization connecting people, places, knowledge, and ideas to foster excellence in natural and cultural resource management, research, protection, and interpretation in parks and equivalent reserves.

NPS Centennial Commentaries:
The Best View

Star trails over Denali • NPS / Jacob W. Frank

Long-time GWS member Robert Manning has launched a year-long series of monthly audio commentaries on the US national parks for Vermont Public Radio. In the first installment, Bob explains why maintaining dark night skies in national parks is so important to the human experience. Each commentary runs about two-and-a-half minutes. Listen here:

"The Best View"

Each of Bob's commentaries will connect to a topic covered in the new book "A Thinking Person's Guide to America's National Parks," sales of which benefit the GWS. More info on the book is further down this column.

New: Post & view job openings on our website!

As a service to the protected areas community, you can now post job openings, and search them, on the GWS website. All employment opportunities related to parks, protected areas, and cultural sites are welcome for listing.

Submit a job posting

View job postings

GWS2017 is coming to Virginia!

The 2017 George Wright Society Conference on Parks, Protected Areas, and Cultural Sites will be held in Norfolk, Virginia, April 2-7. We'll be meeting at the Marriott Waterside Hotel for the 19th in this series of conferences with roots dating back to 1976. Click here to be notified when the Call for Proposals comes out in June 2016. (GWS members will be notified automatically.)

We thank everyone who attended the 2015 meeting in Oakland, and if you didn't, we invite you to find out what these biennial meetings are all about by exploring the GWS2015 website. Find out more

You can now view videos from the three plenary sessions on the GWS YouTube channel. As well, you can view or download over 50 PowerPoint presentations shared by presenters.

Sample the current issue of our journal, The George Wright Forum

Volume 32, no. 3 • December 2015

The National Park Service Centennial Essay Series: NPS is preadapted to deal with the challenges to come

ActivistsAs it nears its 100th birthday, the National Park Service is being flooded by proposals for radical new directions. Former NPS natural resources chief Michael Soukup thinks the agency needs to resist those calls and hold course. Read the essay

Check out these recent publications by GWS members:

A Thinking Person's Guide to America's National Parks

A popular guide to the entire national park system, focusing on the big ideas that you can explore in the over 400 national parks of the USA — and all sales benefit the GWS!

America's National Park System: The Critical Documents

New edition of classic reference on NPS history

I Survived: My Name is Yitzkhak

Tale of WWII survivor

Promising Pathways

Parks Canada Aboriginal engagement guide

The Land is Our Teacher

Celebration of collaboration between Aboriginal peoples and Parks Canada

Expanding Horizons • Large Landscape Network

Summary of a pathbreaking national workshop

Scaling Up: Collaborative Approaches to Large Landscape Management

Collection of stories highlighting the "Scaling Up" goal of the NPS "Call to Action"

More publications by GWS members

What's your passion?

At the GWS, our passion is protected areas: the special places—natural areas and cultural sites alike—that are being safeguarded for perpetuity by people like you all over the world. We are dedicated to building the knowledge needed to protect, manage, and understand protected areas around the globe. The GWS is the one organization whose sole focus is on the scientific and heritage values of parks and other kinds of protected areas, from the largest wilderness area to the smallest historic site. Are these your core values too? Then help us make them a reality!

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Parkwire: GWS's daily digest of global protected area news (follow us via RSS, Twitter @parkwire, or Facebook)

Self-proclaimed militia drops plans to escort remaining militants out of Malheur

BURNS -- Negotiations with the last four occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeast Oregon continued Friday as a militia's weekend plan to escort them out was canceled.

Despite the relative calm in town, residents continue to feel on edge as the armed takeover at the bird sanctuary, 30 miles to the southeast, wrapped up its fifth week.

Canada: Parks Canada kills controversial plans for "Mother Canada" statue at Cape Breton Highlands NP

The controversial Mother Canada project planned for the Cape Breton Highlands National Park will not be going ahead, to the delight of opponents and disappointment of supporters.

India: Long-term wildlife plan calls for drones to monitor poaching in PAs

NEW DELHI: The draft National Wildlife Action Plan for 2017-31 has urged that drones and "electronic eyes" be used to monitor protected areas to check poaching and that development shouldn't take place at the cost of the environment.

It also warned against increasing water sport activities in the country's shrinking wetlands.

Philippines: Fight over Palawan PAs stalls larger PA expansion bill; stronger protections for nearly 100 areas now on hold

THE House of Representatives failed to pass a bill conserving 97 protected areas (PAs) in the country as it adjourned early on Wednesday, the last session day before the Congress’s election break.

China: Four months after annoucing ivory ban, little progress evident; official proposes government buyout of all existing stocks

On January 13, in his New Year policy address, Hong Kong’s chief executive Leung Chun-ying announced a plan to ban ivory trade within the region.

Obama budget to call for permanent full funding of & authorization for LWCF

The White House will ask Congress to fully fund the main federal conservation fund in 2017.

The Interior Department announced Thursday that President Obama will request a $900 million allotment for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) as part of his 2017 budget request. The budget will also look to make LWCF funding mandatory and permanently reauthorize the program.

Saudi Arabia: World Bank, government start 3-year program to rehabilitate historic city centers

RIYADH: The World Bank and the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH) are working in close cooperation to promote investments for the rehabilitation of historic city centers in the Kingdom, an SCTNH spokesman said on Wednesday.

In partnership with the World Bank, SCTNH started a three-year study to this end, he said.

USNPS: Despite raise from Congress, maintenance backlog up to $11.9B

WASHINGTON – The National Park Service (NPS) this week released its Fiscal Year 2015 deferred maintenance statistics for national parks. The $11.93 billion nationwide total is a $440 million increase from the previous year.

Oregon State Sheriff's Association releases statement condemning illegal actions of Malheur occupiers

The Oregon State Sheriff's Association released a statement Friday morning that opposes the views of the occupiers of a federal wildlife refuge outside of Burns.

Over 600 volunteers sign up to help repair damage to Malheur NWR once occupation ends

Oregon conservation groups say volunteers are lining up to help reverse damage done to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge during the ongoing occupation.  

Super Bowl fireworks display debris leaves Golden Gate NRA beach trashed, angering USNPS officials

Enough junk to fill four 50-gallon trash cans washed ashore at San Francisco’s Aquatic Park over the weekend and National Park Service officials, who sent workers to clean it up, suspect it came from a Super Bowl 50 fireworks show.

Editorial: Intimidation of USBLM, other federal land managers results in de facto local control over federal lands

One result of the Bundy Gang take-over has been the abundant media attention to their assertions of government “overreach” and “aggressive enforcement“ of environmental regulations that, according to Bundy and Gang, has driven ranchers, miners, and loggers from the land. Unfortunately the media have been slow to counter such assertions.

Editorial: Quest for windfall profits shouldn't force name changes to iconic sites in Yosemite NP

The names of some of the iconic sites in Yosemite National Park are set to change on March 1. Delaware North Corp. of Buffalo, the park concessionaire through Feb. 29, has quietly trademarked the use of the names.

Divided by extremists, town near Malheur NWR looks toward healing

Sally Hendry set out down the highway on a 28-degree morning with an armful of thick orange ribbons meant to symbolize unity. Trudging through the snow, the retired social worker wrapped one of the ribbons around a utility pole.

“Is that high enough?” Hendry asked her friend Terry Bencen, also of Burns, as she reached up the pole. 

Lawmaker wants federal government to reimburse local law enforcement agencies for costs of Malheur occupation

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) has unveiled legislation that would force the federal government to reimburse local law enforcement agencies for costs incurred during the armed occupation of an Oregon wildlife refuge.

The standoff with authorities began in early January, but the occupiers' leader, Ammon Bundy, was arrested last week.

What is the George Wright Society?

The society is dedicated to the protection, preservation, and management of cultural and natural parks and reserves through research and education.

The GWS is a nonprofit association of researchers, managers, administrators, educators, and other professionals who work on behalf of the scientific and heritage values of protected areas. When many people think of parks, they think of them exclusively in terms of being vacation destinations and recreation areas. But the heart of parks, protected areas, and cultural sites is the resources they protect.  The GWS is dedicated to protecting and understanding these resources by promoting scientific research and cultural heritage scholarship within and on behalf of protected areas.

By “protected areas,” we mean a broad array of places—both “cultural” and “natural”—managed by different entities: parks at all levels; historic and cultural sites; research areas and designated wilderness within national and state forests, grasslands, wildlife refuges, and other public lands; tribal reserves, traditional indigenous cultural places, and community-conserved areas; marine, estuarine, freshwater, and other aquatic sanctuaries; private land-trust reserves; and similarly designated areas.   Find out more

GWS News

New GWS student chapters approved for Kansas State, Montana; student summit in works

At its annual Board meeting last month, two new student chapters of the GWS were approved.  The Tallgrass Chapter of Kansas State University will be advised by GWS Board member Ryan Sharp, who teaches in KSU's Department of Horticulture, Forestry and Recreation Resources.  The faculty advisor for the new chapter at the University of Montana is GWS member Jenn Thomsen.

Long-time GWS members Galipeau, Faulkner honored by NPCA

Long-running efforts to improve public access to Channel Islands National Park, restore native species, and remove non-native species have not only improved the park off the California coast, but led to the superintendent and chief of natural resources management being honored for their work in those efforts.