REGISTER NOW for our 45th conference on the campus of Indiana University, October 23-25, 2018. The conference venue will be the Indiana Memorial Union (IMU), and conference accommodations will be at the historic Biddle Hotel, which is part of the IMU complex.
This year’s theme is 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. 

This annual event is three days of symposia, oral sessions, poster presentations, social networking events, Roundtables, ID Workshops, and field workshops, all aimed at bringing cutting-edge and emerging land management strategies to natural areas professionals. Sessions will focus on a variety of regions and climates—but will also offer strategies appropriate for Indiana’s 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. 

Session Topic Areas 

The conference will include the following topics. 

  • 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

Venue / Reserve Rooms 

Most conference events will take place in the Indiana Memorial Union complex on the IU campus, which includes the historic Biddle Hotel

We have a block of discounted rooms available for attendees at the Biddle, where all guest rooms were newly renovated in 2017. Registration for the conference does not include accommodations: rooms must be reserved by calling 800-209-8145 or 812-855-2536  BEFORE SEPTEMBER 22, 2018 and mentioning the Natural Areas Conference, or by going online and using the code NATURALAREAS18.

Prices for rooms will range from $134 to $174, depending on room type. A limited number of rooms are available
at the government rate for those who qualify. Please inquire at time of reservation. Parking for hotel guests is free. Get additional information about the Biddle Hotel. 

We also have a block of rooms reserved at the nearby Courtyard by Marriott. Rates here are $132 a night if you identify yourself as part of the Natural Areas Conference. Parking is free. Reserve your room by calling 812-335-8000 or 1-800-228-9290. Deadline is October 8, 2018.

NOTE: Accommodations for attendees on THURSDAY, October 25th are very limited at the Biddle. We recommend that those staying over Thursday evening who cannot reserve at the Biddle take advantage of our room block at the Courtyard by Marriott. 

Plenary Speakers 

Opening Plenary - October 23, 9:30 a.m. - Noon

Professor Scott Russell Sanders, award-winning author of A Conservationist Manifesto and Stone Country: Then & Now, will be our keynote speaker.   Dr. Heather Reynolds of Indiana University will appear as an opening plenary speaker. A plant ecologist, Heather heads the Reynolds Laboratory, which studies plant-environment interactions with a focus on native species, and restoration in the face of environmental change. Indiana Department of Natural Resources plant ecologist Mike Homoya will present on the natural features of Indiana. Mike is the author of Wildflowers and Ferns of Indiana Forests: A Field Guide. We will also have Arthur Pearson, author of a biography of NAA co-founder George Fell, speaking at the NAA Awards Banquet. Find out more details.

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

We are excited to be hosting former Director of the National Park Service, Jonathan Jarvis, and Dr. Gary E. Machlis, as 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.  

Dr. Machlis and Mr. Jarvis will be signing copies of their book immediately after they speak at the plenary. Copies will be available at the NAA table throughout the conference, and at the signing. 

​Pre-Conference Workshops

This year we are offering two in-depth all-day pre-conference workshops. Both take place on Monday, October 22. Costs are listed below. You can register for pre-conference workshops during regular registration.  

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 a.m. $30

Kelly Watkinson, Land and Climate Program Manager, Land Trust Alliance
Leslie Brandt, PhD & Kristen Schmitt, Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science
Kimberly Hall, PhDThe Nature Conservancy
Carolyn WaldronLand 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 will include:
  • 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 ​SOLD OUT
Full-Day Workshop, Monday October 22, 9:00 a.m. - 5 p.m. $50

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, and are a critical part of conference programming. Cost for the workshops is $65, except the Karst Caves, which is $70.

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

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 ALMOST SOLD OUT

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  SOLD OUT

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  SOLD OUT

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 ALMOST SOLD OUT

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 SOLD OUT
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 BatsTulip Trace Forest ALMOST SOLD OUT

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).


Registration Rates

*Early registration is through Aug 31, 2018.

Onsite registration will be available for a $30 fee plus registration costs.
Be aware that there are no refunds available after 10/17/18.

All Full Registrations, both student and non-student, include a ticket to the Poster Session and Reception Tuesday, October 23; a ticket to the Awards Dinner Wednesday, October 24; and all Break refreshments. However, you must signify your intention to attend the Poster Session and Reception and/or the Awards Dinner during the registration process in order to receive these tickets.

Registration for Field Workshops is an additional cost for all attendees. Pre-conference workshops also have additional costs. ID Workshops have a nominal cost of $10 each.

Students are also eligible to attend the Student-Mentor Networking Lunch as part of their registration, but you must signify your intention to attend during the registration process in order to receive this ticket. Those non-students willing to volunteer as a Mentor for this event can do so during registration.

One-day registrations do include Break refreshments, but they do not include registration for the Poster Session and Reception or the Awards Dinner.

Pre-conference Workshops and ID Workshops require an extra fee.

​ID Workshops

This year we are featuring six ID Workshops for conference attendees. Each has a nominal fee of $10. Sign up when you register for the conference!
Invasive Plant Identification SOLD OUT
This workshop will focus on educating conservation partners including students, landowners, land managers, educators, etc. about invasive plants impacting the Midwest by providing:
1. identification tips for about 20 invasive plants,
2. differences between each invasive plant and a native plant that resembles the invasive,
3. discuss current range of invasive plant,
4. present current knowledge about ecological impacts for each species presented,
5. if the invasive plant is available at retail markets,
6. native alternative(s).

Invasive Insect Identification
Learn about the biology of and how to identify invasive forest pests including emerald ash borer,  Asian longhorned beetle, hemlock woolly adelgid, and spotted lanternfly.

Digital Herbarium Tools
Learn how to use the Digital Herbarium ( for accessing species information, area specific plant lists, field photos, plant ID tools, and much more.

Sedges Identification SOLD OUT
This workshop, suitable for beginners to more advanced learners, introduces basic vocabulary and identification tools related to the sedges (genus Carex), an important part of natural area plant diversity.

Midwestern Fern Identification SOLD OUT
This workshop, geared toward beginners, introduces basic vocabulary and field identification tools related to some common Midwestern ferns.

Grasses Identification SOLD OUT
After a short introduction/review of the floral and vegetative characteristics, as well as associated terminology, of grasses, an examination of the characteristics of various groups/genera of grasses (and to some species), such as Poa, Phalaris, Phragmites, Setaria, Elymus, etc. will be conducted.

Don't miss these! Each Workshop has a limited capacity, so register now to ensure your place! 

Networking Events 

The Natural Areas Conference is designed to be a place where the natural areas professional community can come together to exchange ideas - but it's also intended to be a place where attendees can strengthen relationships with colleagues; younger members can benefit from the experiences of more established professionals; and everyone can help to build a stronger community. The conference features several networking events:

Tuesday October 23

Student-Mentor Networking Lunch
12:15-1:45 p.m.       
All students and mentors must indicate their interest during registration, but the buffet lunch is free to all who sign up to participate. Students have an opportunity to interact with those with more experience as natural areas practitioners, and receive on-the-spot advice about their career and professional questions.
Poster Session and Reception
6-8 p.m.                      

One of the biggest evening gatherings of the Conference. All those who are presenting posters are available to discuss their work with attendees and answer questions. Usually the majority of conferencegoers attend. There will be a cash bar and appetizers. Open to all registrants.
Wednesday October 24     

NAA Awards Dinner
6:15-9:15 p.m.       
The high point of our week. At this event we recognize the winners of our NAA Fell and Becker Awards, acknowledge students who have won competition prizes, and present info on the upcoming conference. There will be a cash bar and a buffet-style meal is served. The price of the Awards Dinner is included in a full registration, but pre-registration required.
Thursday October 25

NAA Members Meeting and Lunch
Noon-1:15 p.m.                       
If you’re a member, you’ll have a chance to participate in organizational votes, hear about the direction of the organization, and socialize with other members. Non-members are also welcome—it’s a great opportunity to learn more about the Natural Areas Association. No cost to registrants, but pre-registration required.

Local Info 

The 2018 Natural Areas Conference will take place at the Indiana Memorial Union (IMU), on the campus of Indiana University, Bloomington. This interactive map shows all of the buildings on campus. Both the campus and the town of Bloomington are easy to navigate by foot, and most locations related to the conference are no more than a fifteen-minute walk apart or much less. Below, you will find information on how to get to our conference venue, where to park, and options for dining.

Travel Information

The Indiana Memorial Union is about 50 miles from the Indianapolis Airport, so you will need transportation if you are coming to the conference by air.
Besides rental car options, there are a couple of shuttle-type services available:
Bloomington Shuttle Service (1-800-589-6004) offers direct service to the IMU from Indianapolis nine times a day. Current rates are $20.00 each way.

Classic Touch Limousine (1-800-319-0082) charges $45.00 one way, and $72.00 round trip (plus gratuity), to any Bloomington address. Rates decrease as more people share the ride.

Both services require reservations. To board either service, go to the Ground Transportation Center at the Indianapolis Airport, across from the baggage claim area.

Uber and Lyft also operate in Indiana, but beware that fares fluctuate according to the hour, and can range widely in cost for an airport-to-Bloomington trip.

Parking Information:

Parking is free in the hotel lots on campus for those registered at the Biddle Hotel which is part of the IMU complex.  
If you are not staying in the Biddle Hotel, but you want to park there, the parking rate for the parking lots at the hotel is $2.50 an hour on weekdays and $2.00 an hour on weekends.
If you are staying at our alternative hotel, the Courtyard by Marriott, parking there is free of charge. Campus is about a 13-minute walk. It is also easy to request a ride from Uber or Lyft in order to get to the IMU, and these services operate 24 hours a day.

There are many parking garages and lots near campus, but beware that they may close at night and the rates can be quite high.

Places to Eat

The IMU is the student union for Indiana University students, so there are many dining options in the complex, from coffee to fast food to sit-down restaurants.

Our alternative hotel, the Courtyard by Marriott, has a full-service restaurant and coffee shop open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Bloomington also boasts many different options for dining, and the town is very close to the IMU.

Future Conferences 

We're pleased to announce that the 2019 Natural Areas Conference will take place in Pittsburgh, PA, at the place where the three rivers - Monongahela, Allegheny and Ohio - meet! October 8-10, 2019 will see us gathering at our 46th conference at the Sheraton Station Square, which is right on the waterfront in the city of Pittsburgh. Our theme for 2019 will be At the Water’s Edge – Managing our Land and Water in a Changing Landscape. We're excited to be partnering with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' Natural Heritage Program for this event. Find out more. Mark your calendars NOW!

And you can also save the date for the 2020 Natural Areas Conference - October 13-15, in Duluth, Minnesota!


Invest in the people who protect and manage our natural areas