2018 Conference

NAA welcomed more than 300 attendees to the 45th conference, which took place at the Indiana Memorial Union on the campus of Indiana University, October 23-25, 2018. The event included three days of symposia, oral sessions, poster presentations, social networking events, Roundtables, ID Workshops, and field workshops.

The theme for 2018 was Building Resilience: The Future of Natural Areas. Environmental change is dramatically impacting the resilience of natural areas and their ability to rebound from disturbance while maintaining biologically important features, and continuing to provide fundamental support to human health. Regardless of region or type, the hope for natural areas rests on planned actions that promote resilient systems in the face of daunting environmental change.

Sessions focused on a variety of regions and climatesbut also offered strategies appropriate for Indianas varied natural areas and land management challenges, such as fragmented landscapes, the legacy of decades of logging & farming, and the role of private land conservation.

2018 Conference Program

The conference topics included:

  • Land Management in Light of Climate Change
  • Collaborative Approaches to Conservation
  • Native Plant Materials in Natural Areas Management
  • Pollinators in Natural Areas Management
  • Migration Corridors and Assisted Migration
  • Private Land Conservation
  • Karst Conservation
  • Fire Ecology
  • Genetic Diversity & Biodiversity
  • Invasive Species
  • Restoration Ecology
  • Working Landscapes Conservation
  • Urban and Wildland Interface Issues
  • Endangered Species Conservation
  • Monitoring Species Populations and Natural Areas
  • Maximizing Data and Technology to Inform Natural Areas Management
  • The Role of Focal Species in Conservation Planning
  • Communicating the Importance of our Work
  • The Role of Humanities in Conservation

Closing Plenary

Thursday, Oct. 25, 3:30 - 5 p.m.

Former Director of the National Park Service, Jonathan Jarvis, and Dr. Gary E. Machlis, were our Closing Plenary Speakers. Former Director Jarvis and Dr. Machlis are the co-authors of The Future of Conservation in America: A Chart for Rough Water. The closing plenary for the conference will also will also be the Indiana University School of Public Health's Reynold E. Carlson Lecture 2018-2019.


On this page you can find resources and additional information from the 2018 Natural Areas Conference. Use the menu below to access information directly.

Awards Dinner

Alumni Hall Indiana Memorial Union
Wednesday, October 24, 2018
6:00 10:00 pm


  • 6:00 pm Cocktails
  • 7:00 pm Dinner
  • 7:15 pm Welcome from Lisa Smith, Executive Director of NAA
  • 7:20 pm Arthur Melville Pearson, "Force of Nature: George Fell, Founder of the Natural Areas Movement."
  • 7:50 pm Awards Presentation Ceremony
    • Winners of the Students' Paper and Poster Competition
    • The Carl N. Becker Award winner, Joyce Bender
    • The George B. Fell Award winner, William Weeks
  • 8:35 pm Preview of the 2019 Natural Areas Conference, in Pittsburgh, October 8-10
  • 8:40 pm Auction to Benefit NAA
  • 9:10 pm Prairie Fire Auction with Randy Nyboer
  • 9:45 pm Prairie Fire Winning Team Announced

Pre-Conference Workshops

We offered two in-depth all-day pre-conference workshops.

Adapting to Climate Change: Updating our Approach to Land Protection and Site Management Decisions

Full-Day Workshop, Monday October 22, 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Kelly Watkinson, Land and Climate Program Manager, Land Trust Alliance
Leslie Brandt, PhD & Kristen Schmitt,, Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science
Kimberly Hall, PhD, The Nature Conservancy
Carolyn Waldron, Land Trust Alliance

In this climate change adaptation workshop, we will present practical tools and approaches to help land managers evaluate climate resilience and vulnerability, and to update their management actions and stewardship plans to address climate change risks.

This workshop included:

  • A review of how to determine where landscapes might be more resilient to climate change, using TNC's online mapping tool and associated regional data sets
  • Group exercises on how to develop climate-informed management actions on conservation lands
  • A discussion of the challenges and opportunities participants see in communicating and addressing climate change risks to natural systems

Best Management Practices For Pollinators

Full-Day Workshop, Monday October 22, 9:00 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Scott Hoffman Black, Executive Director, Xerces Society

Want to learn about how to manage nature areas for the benefit of pollinators? Join the Xerces Society for a full-day workshop focused on concepts to protect and enhance populations of pollinators in natural areas and other wild landscapes.

This workshop will provide an overview of the natural history and basic identification of pollinators and will focus on management practices that both support or may negatively affect pollinators and other beneficial insects. The course will detail how to provide food and shelter for pollinators and address management actions such as grazing, mowing, control burning and pesticide use. Course participants will conduct a field tour to see pollinator habitat and best management practices on site.

This course will increase the ability of land managers to:

  • Identify bees and distinguish them from other insects
  • Assess pollinator habitat and identify habitat deficiencies
  • Identify ways of increasing and enhancing pollinator and other beneficial insect diversity
  • Understand best management practices that minimize land-use impacts on pollinators
  • Make recommendations on management practices and habitat restoration to conserve pollinators

Field Workshops

Field Workshops demonstrate land management strategies through case studies and on-the-ground observation.

Beanblossom Bottoms Boardwalk: Successes and Challenges of a Wetland Preserve and Public Access Site - Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve

Tour the recently renovated 1.5-mile boardwalk at Sycamore Land Trust's 700-acre Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve, and discuss the successes and challenges of creating and maintaining this unique public access and educational feature along with the collaborative efforts to protect and restore the important wetland preserve where it is located.

Collaborative Conservation in Practice: The Hills of Gold - Laura Hare Preserve, Bob's Woods and Glacier's End Nature Preserve

We will explore two state dedicated nature preserves and a conservation easement to look at current and planned restoration activities that are funded through private and federal sources, including invasive species control, controlled burning, white-tailed deer management, restoring an agricultural field to hardwood forest, pollinator habitat and oak establishment in low-quality forest.

Exploring Unique Karst Features of the Lost River System on the Hoosier National Forest

The Lost River is an 87-mile river, of which 23 miles flow underground in Orange County, Indiana. This unique subterranean system includes swallow holes, sinkholes and caves that provide for a rare and diverse ecosystem that supports federal and state listed species. Attendees will experience the river as boat passengers.

Indiana Karst Landforms and Their Communities: Sinkholes, Caves and Springs

This field workshop will familiarize participants with prominent Indiana karst landforms and their communities: sinkholes, caves, and springs. The trip will include a short walk through old growth forest to discuss sinkholes as a unique ecotone, a boat trip to Upper Twin Cave, and a walk to Bronson Cave entrance. Both quantitative and qualitative methods for characterizing the fauna of these habitats will be demonstrated with opportunities for hands-on application. Cave trips will include overviews of cave communities, aquatic fauna censusing (macro-invertebrate and cavefish), as well as exotics control in karst environments.

Long-term and Landscape-level Effects of Forest Management: The Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment

Participants in the Hardwood Excosystem Experiment (HEE) Field Workshop will have an opportunity to visit HEE Research areas and learn about long-term research related to the management of oak-hickory forests in Indiana. Participants will be able to interact with HEE Researchers and hear about their work studying the effects of different forest management methods on a variety of plant and animal species and how their findings can be applied to the management of Natural Areas.

Scout Ridge Nature Preserve - Morgan - Monroe State Forest in Monroe County

Indiana's second dedicated state nature preserve, Scout Ridge contains high quality mesic and dry-mesic upland forest with a diverse understory including a range of ferns.

Working Woodlands that Enhance Forest Health and Benefit Birds and Bats Tulip Trace Forest

The Tulip Trace Forest Bank has been managed as a working woodlands to benefit migratory songbirds, bats and the restoration of declining forest community types. This field workshop will look at practical measures that have been completed and additional measures necessary to enhance habitat for forest dwelling birds and bats (to include state and federally listed species).


Join the people who protect and manage our natural areas.