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.

Countdown is on—2 days 'til GWS2015!

Post about your conference plans! #GeorgeWright2015

New for 2015: the GWS mobile conference app! Navigate the meeting from your mobile device with this free app. Download it by clicking below.

GWS2015 is almost here! The George Wright Society Conference on Parks, Protected Areas, and Cultural Sites is coming to the Bay Area! Plan now to join us in Oakland, California, the week of March 29–April 3, 2015, for "Engagement, Education, and Expectations: The Future of Parks and Protected Areas." Our biennial conference is all about reflection, reconnection, and renewal — a week of stimulating discussion about leading-edge research, innovative practices, and foundational values. GWS2015 is your place to engage with colleagues who share your commitment to excellence ... to educate yourself about the latest trends and ideas ... to raise expectations for yourself and your career! Find out more



(POSTED March 16, 2015) — Can't make it to Oakland? Join us for a live-stream of the first two plenary sessions! Find out more


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


Volume 31, no. 3 • December 2014


The National Park Service Centennial Essay Series: Moving to the third era of natural resource management

ActivistsEcologist Nathan L. Stephenson has spent his career thoughtfully examining the course of natural resource management in the National Park Service. In the newest Centennial Essay, he argues that the agency is on the cusp of entirely new approach — if only it can get past "the tyranny of the urgent." Read the essay


Now available! The GWS2013 Conference Proceedings


View/download at no charge


Check out these recent publications by GWS members:


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"


Keeping it Wild in the National Park Service • USNPS Wilderness Program

User guide to including wilderness character in management


Wilderness Stewardship Plan Handbook • USNPS Wilderness Program

How-to guide to creating wilderness stewardship plans


Philanthropy and the National Park Service • Jacqueline Vaughn

Historical view of NPS funding partnerships


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!


Donate now button

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

Editorial: Grand Canyon Watershed NMon would benefit everyone, Democratic lawmaker says

Arizonans are a spirited, strong-willed bunch. But there is something we all agree on: From hikers to hunters, from tribal nations to tourism authorities – we love the Grand Canyon.

The Grand Canyon is an environmental treasure, economic driver and essential water source for northern Arizona and the entire Southwest. For our Native American tribes, it is the home of sacred lands.

Editorial: User fees should go toward making up USNPS maintenance needs

There's no getting around that $11.5 billion is a large amount when it comes to tallying the cost of deferred maintenance in U.S. national parks.

It is all the more reason, we think, that the National Park Service ought to move forward with plans to modestly increase entrance fees.

Planning kicks off for Tennessee unit of Manhattan Project NHP

OAK RIDGE — In an Oak Ridge Civic Center room filled with memorabilia of this formerly secret city’s colorful history, a National Park Service executive said what all present knew, but were again delighted to hear.

“Congratulations,” Vic Knox, assistant director for park planning and facilities told the large crowd, “You’ve got a national park.”

USFWS allows importation of trophy from Namibian black rhino legally killed by hunter last year, angering animal rights groups

(Reuters) - A hunter who paid $350,000 last year at a Dallas auction for a license to hunt an endangered black rhino in Namibia will be able to bring home a trophy despite protests from animal rights groups that said the sale was immoral.

Australia: Tasmanian parrot species "in far worse trouble than anybody thought," study says; call for logging moratorium in habitat

The iconic Tasmanian swift parrot is facing population collapse and could become extinct within 16 years, new research has found.

Australia: Trout are larger in more strictly protected zones of Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, scientists find

Coral trout in protected 'green zones' are not only bigger and more abundant than those in fished 'blue zones' of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, but they are also better able to cope with cyclone damage, according to a long-term study published today in Current Biology.

Australia: WA government to "deregister" sacred sites, Aboriginal leader says

The Chairperson of the Rottnest Island Deaths Group says the Western Australian Government is already deregistering sacred sites despite proposed changes to the state's Aboriginal Heritage Act being still in limbo.

The proposed changes will remove rights of notification and appeal for traditional owners seeking to protect their heritage.

England: Unearthed by scholars and studied to great acclaim, remains of Richard III to be reburied in Leicester Cathedral

LEICESTER, England — For an English monarchy that has lasted more than 1,000 years, there have been few stranger occasions than the ceremony here on Thursday for the reburial of perhaps the most bloodstained and violent of its medieval sovereigns, King Richard III, who was slain in battle seven years before Christopher Columbus s

Syria: In ongoing war, rebels seize historic WH town of Busra Sham; no major damage to ancient citadel

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian rebels seized a government stronghold and a key town near the border with Jordan, ousting Syrian soldiers and allied militiamen from the region after four days of intense battles, opposition activists and rebels said Wednesday.

Editorial: Head of TRAFFIC sizes up illegal wildlife trade

CAMBRIDGE, UK, Mar 23 2015 (IPS) - On Feb. 13, 2014, heads of state and ministers from 41 countries met in London to inject a new level of political momentum into efforts to combat the growing global threat posed by illegal wildlife trade to species such as elephants, rhinos and tigers.

USFWS seeks further public comment on potential ESA downgrade of Lower 48 population of woodland caribou

(Reuters) - U.S. wildlife managers on Tuesday sought further public comment on whether to reclassify woodland caribou that have all but disappeared from their natural range in the lower 48 states as threatened, a downgrade from their current status of endangered.

Federal judge rules no treaty rights to drive off-road in parts of Hanford Reach NMon, mum on treaty rights to hunt

The Treaty of 1855 does not give a tribal member the right to drive off-road on the Arid Lands Ecology Reserve within the Hanford Reach National Monument, a federal judge has ruled.

Maine town endorses scaled-down NP concept

BANGOR, Maine — After a lengthy discussion and public comment period, the Bangor City Council voted 7-2 Monday to support the concept of a national park and national recreation area in the Katahdin region.

Australia: Mining companies drop plans for Mitchell Plateau in Kimberley, paving way for area to become part of NP

Rio Tinto and Alcoa are axing a bauxite mining joint venture deal for Western Australia’s spectacular Mitchell Plateau, paving the way for the area to be included in a new national park.

The companies announced on Tuesday they had agreed to terminate a more than 40-year-old state agreement act to mine bauxite and build an alumina refinery in the north Kimberley region.

UK: National Trust to spend £1b over ten years to restore natural areas

The British countryside will be “nursed back to health” by the National Trust under a new £1bn, 10-year plan, which takes the charity far beyond its conventional image of country houses and tearooms.

Decades of poor land management, intensive farming and the loss of habitat have sent wildlife numbers tumbling, with 60% of species declining in the UK over the last 50 years.

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

GWS signs MOU with Clemson; first Student Chapter launched; Harmon honored

In September, GWS Executive Director Dave Harmon traveled to Clemson University to sign a memorandum of understanding with the university’s Institute for Parks, one of the USA’s leading academic institutions in the world of protected area education, management, and development.  This is a major agreement that pledges GWS and Clemson to work together in six areas:

Latourelle heads up roster of 2015 GWS Awards winners

Alan Latourelle, chief executive officer of Parks Canada, will receive the Society’s highest honor, the George Melendez Wright Award for Excellence, at the conference in Oakland.