The 2013 George Wright Society Conference on Parks, Protected Areas, and Cultural Sites

Thanks to everyone who attended GWS2013!

It was a pleasure seeing you in Denver.  Please let us know how we can improve future conferences by taking a few moments to fill out our conference evaluation form.



Thanks for your interest in GWS2013, the biennial George Wright Society Conference on Parks, Protected Areas, and Cultural Sites. The GWS conferences are all about reflection, reconnection, and renewal — a week of stimulating discussion about leading-edge research, innovative practices, and foundational values. 


When we say "parks," we mean a lot more.

Every two years, the George Wright Society organizes the USA’s premier interdisciplinary professional meeting on parks, protected areas, and cultural sites. By these three overlapping terms we mean a broad array of places, both “cultural” and “natural,” managed by different entities under a variety of designations:

  • parks at all levels: federal, state/provincial, county, and city
  • historic, archaeological, and other cultural sites; cultural landscapes; protected landscapes/seascapes
  • research areas and designated wilderness within national and state forests; other protected natural areas
  • grasslands, wildlife refuges, national monuments, and other protected public lands
  • areas and sites administered by tribal nations and/or indigenous people; community-conserved areas; sacred natural sites
  • marine protected areas; estuarine, freshwater, and other aquatic sanctuaries
  • private land-trust reserves

The GWS Conference also encompasses disciplines and activities that link with or otherwise support the work of parks, such as GIS and museum work.  Any member of the public is welcome to register and attend.


What's different about GWS conferences?  Our broad horizons.

The GWS is unique among professional organizations because our mission is to encourage dialogue and information exchange among all the people needed for protected area conservation. The conference goes well beyond the U.S. national park system to include other federal agencies, tribes, state agencies, NGOs, academic concerns, and park systems and organizations outside the USA.  When it comes to parks, our area of interest is the entire world.


Value for money.

In a world where every organization operates on a tight training budget, conferences must deliver demonstrable benefits at a good price.  At GWS, we plan and carry out our conference with value foremost in mind.  Our program emphasizes presentations that deliver take-home benefits to attendees.  Our registration and special-event fees are at the lower end of comparably sized civil-sector and professional society meetings.  Our conferences receive high marks (greater than 4.2 on a scale of 1–5) from attendees on overall satisfaction.  And we try to minimize the environmental impact of the conference through "green meetings" practices.


A new landscape for federal conferences?  We're ready.

If you are a US federal employee, you've probably heard about the new guidance on conference attendance.  And you may be wondering about the recently announced travel budget cuts and the ongoing impact of travel ceilings.  There's still a lot of uncertainty about how all this will work out, but the GWS is ready for the challenge.  We are already working with relevant agencies on the approval process for federal employee attendance, and are actively looking at ways to share a portion of GWS2013 over the web so that the benefits reach a wider audience at a lower cost.  We fully support measures that ensure taxpayer dollars devoted to federal employee development are spent effectively.  At the same time, we remain committed to the "DNA" of the GWS conferences: the opportunity for face-to-face interactions — a community of peers engaging with each other, and with the most important park issues of the day.  That dynamism, and the collegial learning atmosphere it creates, is indispensable.

GWS2013: The place to refresh your career.

GWS2013 is your chance to catch up with old friends and colleagues, make important new contacts, get up-to-date on the latest innovations in park management, stay current with research findings in your field, and connect with people who share your core values. With our broad range of program offerings — including thought-provoking keynotes, wide-ranging paper and panel presentations, focused affinity and business meetings, a dynamic poster session, and field & service trips — the GWS biennial conferences aim to be the park profession’s best all-around learning venue.

Ready to get started?  Begin by reading the Call for Proposals.


Questions? Ask us!

We've created this website to answer your questions about the conference. But if anything isn't clear, don't hesitate to contact us — we are always glad to help. Thank you for your interest in the George Wright Society and our conference.  We look forward to seeing you in Denver!

Dave Harmon
GWS Executive Director

Emily Dekker-Fiala
GWS Conference Coordinator

Or call us at 1-906-487-9722.

Conference Co-Sponsoring and Supporting Organizations

US National Park Service • Co-Sponsor
Hitachi Consulting • Supporter
Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. • Supporter


GWS Board of Directors

Brent A. Mitchell, president
John Waithaka, vice president
Gary E. Davis, treasurer
David J. Parsons, secretary
Nathalie Gagnon
Barrett Kennedy
Jerry Mitchell
Frank J. Priznar
Ryan Sharp
Jan W. van Wagtendonk
Lynn Wilson
Carena van Riper, graduate student representative


GWS2013 Conference Committee

David Parsons, chair
Brad Barr
Barrett Kennedy
Nathalie Gagnon
Molly Ross
Jerry Mitchell
Brent Mitchell
Carena van Riper
Melia Lane-Kamahele
Jan van Wagtendonk
Andy Ferrell
Mike Wong
Kirsten Leong


GWS2013 Native Involvement Working Group

Nathalie Gagnon
Melia Lane-Kamahele
Deanna Beacham
Monique Fordham
Doug Harris
Angeles Mendoza Sammet
Angela Mooney D'Arcy
Fawn YoungBear-Tibbetts

Except where noted otherwise, all photos courtesy of Dorothy & Gary Davis