Celebrate 50 Years!

Celebrating the first 50 year and planning for the next.

The natural areas movement began during the early 1970s in response to the post-war economic boom of the 50s and 60s as people passionate about land began to encourage the government to set aside nature preserves and to create programs for ongoing stewardship.

Success in land and water conservation is only realized when those who manage the land have access to timely, relevant, and effective research, strategies and methods. It was this truth that led George B. Fell to establish the NAA in the early 1970’s, and this need inspired the first Natural Areas Conference in October 1974 fifty years ago and remains NAA’s mission today.

Together, we have met for conferences, roundtables, webinars, and field workshops to advance science-based management practices to conserve and enhance ecologically significant natural landscapes.

NAA is your resource for quality conservation science and peer-to-peer sharing across federal, state, local, academic, tribal, nonprofit and private entities. We are committed to sharing the content you need wherever you are located, wherever you are in your career, and wherever you are in your practice.

NAA is celebrating our first 50 years!

  • Established a network of people working in state and private natural areas in October 1974 at the Wyalusing State Park, WI - now known as the Natural Areas Conference. The Natural Areas Conference is the first and continues to be the only national meeting focused on the stewardship of land and water.
  • Published 175 Issues of the Natural Areas Journal published to date featuring over 2060 articles and manuscripts.
  • Created a support network of peer relationships formed among natural areas practitioners so that they could be resources to each other for information sharing and new learning to advance conservation science and the protection of ecologically significant landscapes in an industry where people often work in isolation and achievements are measured over years.
  • Empowered natural areas practitioners by curating and disseminating science-based conservation practices, methodologies and innovations.
  • Contributed to the natural areas movement during a fifty-year adoption curve - protecting biodiversity, restoring ecologically significant landscapes, educating the public, and fighting for high value natural lands.
  • Advocated for practitioners who work in an industry that can be underappreciated and fraught with political tension and conflict.
  • Promoted land and water management standards that can make difference in the battle for climate resilience through written, virtual and in-person programming.
Group of people gathered in a discussion.Group of people huddled under a cave-like opening.

Join us as we celebrate the first 50 ... and plan for the next!

SUBSCRIBE to NAA’s enhanced YouTube Channel!

NAA’s YouTube Channel provides high-quality, science-based resources and programs to share conservation science and cutting-edge research. The goal? To sustain resilient, functioning ecosystems that harbor biodiversity for future generations. Searchable by topic, many of these programs are publicly available for the first time!

SHARE historical photos

There have been a lot of photos taken during the past 50 years! Our priority is photos of practitioners and natural areas movement leaders. Specifically, if you have photos from past Natural Areas Conferences; however, photos from other gatherings are welcome as well. Don’t forget to include the location, date, and names of those in the picture! We would love to expand the NAA photo archives

Digital and print photos welcome! UPLOAD HERE or contact Sarah Floyd, sfloyd@naturalareas.org. She will be happy to assist you.

Woman taking a photo of a small creature

TELL your story

We all have a story to tell and we want to learn more about NAA through the years and the natural areas movement through your experience. Whether your story includes the early days of the natural areas movement or a success or challenge along the way. Don’t be shy! We want to hear from you.


Want to learn more? Contact Sarah Floyd, sfloyd@naturalareas.org.

Woman holding tall grass and talking about it to others

ENVISION the future

While much has been accomplished, there is still so much more to do! To plan for the next 50 years, let’s envision where we want to be in 2074.

Help NAA build a digital time capsule. Record a brief video to share your vision for natural areas conservation in 2074.


Want to learn more? Contact Sarah Floyd, sfloyd@naturalareas.org.

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More Anniversaries

NAA is not the only organization that has been a part of the natural areas movement for 50 years or more. The following organizations are also celebrating 50+ anniversaries this year.

The Nature Conservancy logo
The Nature Conservancy
Over 70 years old!

Support natural areas practitioners for the next 50 years!

Help NAA share the science needed to protect natural areas, native plants, and pollinators in a rapidly changing climate. Your gift supports programs for people like you who work tirelessly to protect natural areas and the native species who call it home.

NAA has made it even easier than ever to give. One-time, monthly, or bequest giving options are available. Learn more and donate today!


Join the people who protect and manage our natural areas.