Mark your calendars 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, 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 

Closing Plenary

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.  

Opening Plenary
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 also 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 climate 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.

Field Workshops 

Field Workshops demonstrate land management strategies through case studies and on-the-ground observation, and are a critical part of conference programming. 

FW 1 - 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.
FW 2 - 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. 
FW 3 - Creating Indiana Bat Habitat : Before and AfterTwin Creek Valley, Henderson Park
Contrast the early stages of reforestation for bat habitat in a high quality mature mesic oak woodland and limestone glades.
FW 4 - Exploring Unique Karst Features of the Lost River System on the Hoosier National Forest

The Lost River is a 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. 
FW 5 - Long-term and Landscape-level Effects of Forest Management: The Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment

Participants in the Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment (HEE) Field Workshop will visit a local state forest to discuss on-going forestry and research activities related to the management of oak-hickory forests in Indiana. Topics discussed will include the impact of forest regeneration methods (e.g., clearcut, group selection, shelterwood, and single-tree selection) and management activities (e.g. prescribed fire) on a variety of plants and animals.
FW 6 - 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.
FW 7 - Working Woodlands that Enhance Forest Health and Benefit Birds and BatsTulip 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).

REGISTRATION Opens June 2018

Registration Rates

*Early registration is through Aug 31, 2018.

Onsite registration will be available for a $30 fee plus registration costs.

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; Field Workshops for students are offered at a discounted rate.

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 require an extra fee.

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.
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. 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. Pre-registration required.

Local Info 

Coming soon - information about travel from the Indianapolis airport, local attractions, and FAQs about Bloomington and Indiana University facilities. 

Future Conference 

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 Pittsburgh, which is right on the waterfront in the city of Pittsburgh. We're excited to be partnering with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy for this event. Find out more. Mark your calendars NOW!


Invest in the people who protect and manage our natural areas