Rethinking Protected Areas in a Changing World • April 16-20, 2007, St. Paul, MN

The George Wright Society (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. Every two years, The George Wright Society organizes and is the primary sponsor of the USA’s premier interdisciplinary conference on protected areas.

The GWS is unique among professional organizations because it encourages dialogue and information exchange among all the people needed for protected area conservation, from historians to biologists, managers to researchers, public agencies to private organizations, academics to field personnel. The conference reflects this cross-cutting approach. For more on GWS, please visit the GWS website (external link).

This year’s conference hosted over 900 individuals–a record-breaker for the Society. Landsat Education and Outreach Lead, Anita Davis, co-chaired two sessions together with Woody Turner, Program Scientist, Biological Diversity Program Manager, NASA Headquarters; and Mike Story, Physical Scientist, National Park Service.

The sessions, The NASA/NPS Connection: Parks for Science, Science for Parks, (Parts I and II), included ten invited presentations by NASA-funded scientists and education and outreach professionals. These sessions were a first attempt at bringing a united NASA presence to GWS, and were designed to encourage greater use of NASA data and imagery and increased collaboration with NASA scientists in the future. Landsat data and imagery featured prominently in the sessions, including a paper by Eric Brown de Colstoun, Using Satellite-based Tree Cover and Impervious Cover Data to Monitor National Parks in the Upper Delaware River Basin. Dr. Brown de Colstoun is employed by SSAI, and is a member of the Landsat Project Science Office at Goddard Space Flight Center; this research was funded by a NASA New Investigator Grant.

Other papers highlighting Landsat data included Visualizing Yellowstone Through an Interactive Kiosk; Grand Canyon Fly-through Animation and Grand Canyon Comparison to Valles Marineris on Mars; and Urbanization in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed: A Modeling Tool to Support Decision-making for Watershed Management.

In addition to serving as co-chair, Davis also presented a poster, Sharing a World of Resources: Incorporating Science Content in Effective Interpretation. The poster outlined successful methodology used in recent NASA-funded efforts in professional development for Park Ranger Interpreters through the NASA Explorer Institute, Earth to Sky: A NASA-NPS Partnership. This partnership has resulted in incorporation of NASA science in public programming for millions of National Park visitors each year. Read more about Earth to Sky at http://www.earthtosky.org (external link).