The George Wright Society Conference on Parks, Protected Areas & Cultural Sites • New Orleans, Louisiana • March 14–18, 2011

Plenary sessions


Plenary Session I

Monday, March 14   •   8:00–9:30a

The Long View of Climate Change:
What the Lessons of the Past Teach Us About What We Need to Do in the Future

Brian Fagan,
Professor Emeritus, University of California–Santa Barbara

If we look back over a long enough span, global warming is nothing new under the sun: when measured at a millennial scale, it's a long-term trend that's been going on since the end of the Ice Age.  People who are skeptical of anthropogenic climate change sometimes use this fact to  downplay or deny the severity of what we face today.  But careful scholarship into climate history has unearthed irrefutable evidence to the contrary.  Agricultural civilizations are based on expectations about climate, and when those expectations are upset — as when warming episodes induce drought — the results have been catastrophic.  There is no reason to think that our current situation is any different.

The anthropologist Brian Fagan is one of the scholars who have painstakingly assembled the evidence of climate change's historical effects.  Among other books, he is the author of the highly regarded The Great Warming: Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations,  The Long Summer: How Climate Changed Civilization, and The Little Ice Age: How Climate Made History.  In these works Fagan not only details the biophysical impacts of climate change in the past, he clearly explains the varying human responses to them: some successful, others disastrous. These responses are lessons from the past that can help guide us as we decide how to shape our own future — if only we pay attention.

Praise for Brian Fagan's The Great Warming:

“Fagan is a great guide. His canvas may be smaller than Jared Diamond's Collapse, but Fagan's eye for detail and narrative skills are better.” — New Scientist

“[A] fascinating account of shifting climatic conditions and their consequences.” — New York Times

“The Great Warming is a thought-provoking read, which marshals a remarkable range of learning.” — Financial Times

Dr. FaganBrian Fagan, born in England, received his Ph.D. from Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he studied archaeology and anthropology. He spent six years as Keeper of Prehistory at the Livingstone Museum in Zambia, and moved to the U.S.A. He was appointed Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1967.

Professor Fagan is an archaeological generalist, with expertise in the broad issues of human prehistory. He is the author or editor of 46 books, including seven widely used undergraduate college texts. Prof. Fagan has contributed over 100 specialist papers to many national and international journals. He is a Contributing Editor to American Archaeology and Discover Archaeology magazines, and formerly wrote a regular column for Archaeology Magazine. He serves on the Editorial Boards of six academic and general periodicals and has many popular magazine credits.

Fagan has been an archaeological consultant for many organizations, including National Geographic Society, Time/Life, Encyclopædia Britannica, and Microsoft Encarta. He has lectured extensively about archaeology and other subjects throughout the world at many venues, including the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the National Geographic Society, the San Francisco City Lecture Program, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Getty Conservation Institute.

In addition to extensive experience with the development of Public Television programs, Professor Fagan was the developer/writer of Where in time is Carmen San Diego, an NPR series in 1984-86. He has worked as a consultant for the BBC, RKO, and many Hollywood production companies on documentaries. In 1995 he was Senior Series Consultant for Time/Life Television's "Lost Civilizations" series.

Fagan was awarded the 1996 Society of Professional Archaeologists' Distinguished Service Award for his "untiring efforts to bring archaeology in front of the public." He also received a Presidential Citation Award from the Society for American Archaeology in 1996 for his work in textbook, general writing and media activities. He received the Society's first Public Education Award in 1997.



Plenary Session II

Tuesday, March 15   •   8:00–9:30a

Government-to-Government Consultations with Native Peoples: From the Rhetoric of Respect to Real Results

Panel discussion

  • Moderator/panelist: Dalee Sambo Dorough, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Alaska-Anchorage, USA
  • Panelist: Ernie Gladstone, Superintendent, Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve
    and Haida Heritage Site, Canada
  • Panelist: Walter R. Echo-Hawk, Jr., Of Counsel, Law Firm of Crowe & Dunleavy, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

In North America, responsibility for stewardship of place-based natural and cultural heritage  is shared by Native and non-Native people.  One of the prerequisites for effective stewardship is meaningful consultation between and among tribal and non-tribal governments.  Such government-to-government consultations are mandated by a variety of laws and policies in Canada and the USA.  This panel discussion will look at the complex landscape of formal “Big ‘C’ Consultation.”  The panelists will spell out the importance of consultation, explain the very different legal situations in Canada and the USA, and highlight leading real-world  consultative techniques.  The plenary will feature Native experts — one from Canada, one from the USA, and one moderator/discussant — who will challenge us to go beyond mere legal requirements and embrace a new kind of shared decision-making.

Dr. DoroughDalee Sambo Dorough (Inuit), Ph.D. University of British Columbia, Faculty of Law (2002); MALD The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy (1991); Assistant Professor, Political Science, University of Alaska, Anchorage; Alaskan Member, Inuit Circumpolar Council Advisory Committee on UN Issues; Member, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; Member, Board of Trustees of UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations; and Member, International Law Association Committee on Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Dr. Dorough has a long history in the development of international indigenous human rights standards at the UN, OAS, ILO and other international fora. Her interests include human rights law, public international law, the political and legal relations between nation-states and Aboriginal peoples, international relations, and Alaska Native self-determination. Dr. Dorough is the author of numerous publications in the area of international human rights law and the rights of indigenous peoples. She lives in Anchorage, Alaska with her husband Luke and their 15-year old daughter, Hannah.  E-mail:

Mr. GldstoneErnie Gladstone (Haida) is the Superintendent of Gwaii Haanas, a post he has held since 2001 when he was appointed as Parks Canada’s first Haida Superintendent. Gwaii Haanas is a National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site. The area is cooperatively managed by the Government of Canada and the Council of the Haida Nation. Ernie is a co-chair on the Canada/Haida management board that oversees the protection and presentation of the natural and cultural heritage of Gwaii Haanas which includes SGang Gwaii, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a number of National Historic Sites, and Canada’s first National Marine Conservation Area. In 2008, Ernie was awarded a Public Service Award of Excellence for his work in Gwaii Haanas. He lives on Haida Gwaii with his wife and three young children.
Website Links:


Mr. Echo-Hawk, Esq.Walter R. Echo-Hawk, Jr. (Pawnee), is in the Tulsa office of Crowe & Dunleavy, Attorneys and Counselors At Law, and serves "Of-Counsel" in the Firm’s Indian Law and Gaming Practice Group. A lawyer, tribal judge, scholar and activist, his legal experience includes cases involving Native American religious freedom, prisoner rights, water rights, treaty rights, and reburial/repatriation rights.

Mr. Echo-Hawk has worked as a lawyer for the Native American Rights Fund for more than 35 years. He was instrumental in securing passage of two federal laws that respect Indian and religious freedoms and also the repatriation of Native American remains to Indian tribes.

Walter is a member of the Pawnee Nation, belonging to the Kitkahaki Band, born on the Pawnee reservation in Oklahoma. He received a political science degree from Oklahoma State University (1970) and his law degree from the University of New Mexico (1973).

He is a prolific writer whose books include the award-winning Battlefields and Burial Grounds. Mr. Echo-Hawk's latest book, In the Courts of the Conqueror: The 10 Worst Indian Law Cases Ever Decided, was published in 2010.



Plenary Session III

Wednesday, March 16   •   8:00–9:30a

Communities in Crisis: Can We Plan for Resiliency Before Disaster Strikes?

Douglas Meffert, Deputy Director for Policy, Tulane/Xavier Center for Bioenvironmental Research

Charles E. Allen III, Director, Office of Coastal Restoration and Environmental Affairs, City of New Orleans


By any measure, New Orleans has had more than its share of crises in the last few years.  Hurricane Katrina wrought a level of destruction on the city that is unmatched in recent American history.  Now, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has added considerable uncertainty to the long-term future of coastal Louisiana — even though the worst impacts of the spill appear to have been avoided.  Unavoidably, New Orleans has had to learn to respond to disaster, and to live with its aftermath.

This session will focus on the experience of New Orleans to examine issues of communities in crisis: How communities should prepare for them, how they weather them, and how they recover from them, with an emphasis on the role parks, protected areas, and cultura sites can play in promoting resilience and sustainability, and in serving as focal points of civic engagement with local communities to discuss and plan for crises. 

Dr. MeffertDouglas Meffert is the Eugenie Schwartz Professor of River & Coastal Studies and Deputy Director for Policy at the Tulane/Xavier Center for Bioenvironmental Research (CBR). He is also Executive Director of Tulane’s RiverSphere – a new initiative fostering green jobs in renewable energy through testing and development of hydrokinetic energy systems in the Mississippi River. Dr. Meffert has faculty appointments in Tulane’s School of Public Health’s Environmental Health Sciences Department and the Tulane Law School’s Payson Center for International Development. He is also co-principal of Meffert + Etheridge Environmental Projects, LLC. Prior appointments include the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; the Southern California Regional Water Quality Control Board; environmental consulting at Technical Legal Information Systems in Reston, Virginia; and the U.S. Department of Energy in Washington, DC.

Meffert received his undergraduate engineering and a master in business degrees at Tulane University and Doctorate of Environmental Science & Engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles. Recent awards include a 2007 joint Loeb Fellowship at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in Cambridge, MA where he currently serves as a faculty associate and, in 2009, an award of excellence from the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Dr. Meffert has more than 20 years of service promoting sustainability and coastal restoration and protection. From 1994-1997, he served as chair of the interagency committee that produced the first report to Congress on the cumulative progress of Louisiana’s coastal restoration efforts through the Coastal Wetlands, Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act.  From 1998-present, Dr. Meffert has served as the Director of the CBR’s Long-term Estuary Group (LEAG) and as Tulane’s technical representative on the Coastal Restoration, Enhancement through Science & Technology (CREST) and Gulf Coast Ocean Observation System (GCOOS) consortiums. From 2005-2006, he served as Chair of the Sustainability Subcommittee of the Bring New Orleans Back Commission. He currently serves as the New Orleans coordinator for the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Urban Biosphere program, which is dedicated to intellectual exchange and research to promote resilience and sustainability of urban ecosystems worldwide. His most recent contributions include serving on executive and technical committees including the Coastal Sustainability Consortium, Senator Mary Landrieu’s Coalition for Louisiana’s Coastal Restoration and Protection, New Orleans Office of Environmental Affairs’ Coastal Advisory Committee, the Sustainability Systems Working Group for New Orleans’s Master Plan and Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance process, and as the Chair of Tulane University’s Oil Response Committee.

Mr. AllenCharles Allen was recently named Director of the city of New Orleans' Office of Coastal Restoration and Environmental Affairs.  He also is President of the Holy Cross Neighborhood Association (HCNA). Founded in 1981, the Holy Cross Neighborhood Association is a neighborhood organization in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, whose mission is to improve the living conditions and serve the needs of its residents, preserve cultural and architectural heritage, serve as a clearinghouse for information, and actively represent the interests of the neighborhood with city, state and federal agencies, private businesses, community organizations, and individuals, for the purpose of improving the community. As HCNA President, Mr. Allen has helped to spearhead multiple restoration and recovery efforts in the Holy Cross/Lower Ninth ward community. Mr. Allen has been an active REACH NOLA partner since its inception in April 2006. Mr. Allen co-leads the Sustainability Workshop Project and sits on the Health and Resilience Project Council.

Mr. Allen also has worked for the Tulane/Xavier Center for Bioenvironmental Research in the field of education/outreach.  He received his bachelor’s of biology degree from Xavier University of Louisiana in 1995 and a master’s of science degree in public health from Tulane University in 1998. Mr. Allen is the subject of a short feature, "Green without Glamour," in the July/August 2010 issue of Sierra Club magazine.



Plenary Session IV

Thursday, March 17   •   8:00–9:30a

On the Edge of Oblivion? Making Sure Parks Still Matter in Tomorrow’s North America

Luis Fueyo MacDonald, Commissioner, CONANP (Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas), Mexico

Jonathan B. Jarvis, Director, US National Park Service

Alan Latourelle, Chief Executive Officer, Parks Canada Agency

National parks, protected areas, and cultural sites have a lineage that stretches back to the late 19th century in Canada and the USA, and comparable protected areas in Mexico date back to the early 20th century.  Many of these protected places have achieved global renown: for natural areas, as paragons of beauty and — more problematically — as strongholds of wildness in an ever-more-developed world; for cultural areas, as icons of history whose significance was assumed to be universal.  Their continuing popularity seemed assured.  But recent trends have cast a disquieting cloud over the future of parks in North America.  There are indications that their popularity may be too closely tied to a narrow ethnic, cultural, and racial demographic whose ways of relating to natural and cultural heritage were never fully shared by significant numbers of North Americans — people who are referred to as “minorities” but who soon will be in the majority.  Beyond this, there are troubling indications that youth across all cultural groups are becoming more and more disconnected from a knowledge of the past and of the natural world.

In short: Are parks becoming irrelevant?  If they are, what can we do to reverse the trend?

For this plenary discussion we have invited the leaders of the federal national park systems of Canada, Mexico, and USA to tackle these questions.  The session will give us a chance to hear their thinking on the scope of the problem and potential solutions, with plenty of time allotted for questions from the audience.

Sr. FueyoLuis Fueyo MacDonald became the Commisioner of CONANP (Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas), the top-level protected areas agency in Mexico, upon being appointed by President Calderón.  Before coming to CONANP, Fueyo was a physicist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, where he received a Master of Science degree.  His background is in marine conservation, having worked in hydroacoustics, coastal lagoon management, and other coastal ecosystems.  With extensive experience in the public sector and international conservation, Fueyo has served as national fisheries coordinator and director general of monitoring for PROFEPA, the Mexican federal fisheries organization.  He has also served with CONABIO, the country's lead agency for biodiversity protection.

Mr. JarvisJon Jarvis is the 18th Director of the National Park Service. A career ranger who began his career in 1976 as a seasonal interpreter in Washington, D.C., Jarvis runs an agency that preserves and manages some of the USA's most treasured landscapes and valued cultural icons. Prior to taking the helm as Director, Jarvis most recently served as the Regional Director of the Pacific West Region, and he has also been a resource management specialist, park biologist, and superintendent at parks such as Prince William Forest Park in Virginia, Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas, Crater Lake National Park in Oregon and North Cascades National Park in Washington, Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska, and Mount Rainier National Parkin Washington. Jarvis served as president of the George Wright Society in 1997-98, and has published and lectured on the role of science in parks at conferences and workshops around the U.S. He has extensive experience in developing government-to-government relations with Native American tribes, gateway community planning, FERC relicensing, major facility design and construction, wilderness management, and general management planning.

Mr. LatourelleIn 1997 Alan Latourelle joined Parks Canada and he was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Agency in 2002. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the Université du Québec and a Master of Business Administration from Queen's University.  In his role as CEO, Mr. Latourelle has set the course for helping Parks Canada to become a recognized leader in Canadian tourism and governmental aboriginal relationships, while improving the Agency's track record in conservation.  Under his leadership, Parks Canada has added 76,000 square kilometers to Canada's network of protected natural areas and has been awarded the Tourism Industry Association of Canada Award for Business of the Year. Mr. Latourelle is currently the Deputy Minister Champion for the Advancement of Aboriginal Employment in the Federal Public Service.