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Spring 2006
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August 7–11, 2006, San Diego, California

Invitation to International National Parks Track

Managing Parks for Future Generations is the theme of an International National Parks track at the Esri International User Conference being held August 7–11, 2006, in San Diego, California. The track will feature keynote addresses about national parks, three days of technical and case study sessions, a major display illustrating GIS implementation in parks, and a dedicated area of maps and posters from around the world. The national parks theme will include representative examples of many programs and projects that utilize GIS and related tools.

The highlights of the International National Parks track will be the keynote addresses on August 8 and 9, as well as the breadth of program representation in the presentations, displays, maps, and posters throughout the week. The national parks display area will showcase park management and research themes capped with a video theater of GIS applications and resource scenes. In addition, the Esri Conservation Program and other conservation partners will display their stories in the same area. The track will provide a wealth of information about parks and protected areas worldwide.

The National Park Service (NPS) GIS Committee invites managers and staff from across NPS (and around the world) to attend or participate in the conference this year. From facilities management to alien plant control, national parks will benefit from a better understanding of GIS and its utility. Managers are urged to consider allowing staff members to participate in this exciting event. Those interested in attending the conference or desiring additional information should contact their regional or program GIS leader.

GIS and the National Park System

Since the passage of the Yosemite Act in 1864 and creation of Yellowstone National Park in 1872, national parks and other protected areas have become the natural heritage of humanity. This heritage embraces a wealth of natural and cultural resources that preserve small slices of the fruit of the earth and the history of mankind.

Since the inception of the national park ideal, geography and other sciences have evolved along with human civilization and technology. Modern scientists utilize GIS to map, illustrate, characterize, and analyze geospatial data for enhanced management of parks and protected areas throughout the world. However, only in the past decade have park managers really begun to embrace GIS for its ability to locate features and show relationships among a myriad of park resources. From mapping man-made structures to tracking the spread of microbial infestations, GIS provides unparalleled tools for modeling and understanding physical and biological systems. Because most park resources have a geospatial location, GIS can help decipher and visualize relationships.

GIS empowers park stewards to better protect and manage their resources. From characterizing emergency operations to guiding snowplows clearing buried mountain passes, geospatial tools can assist park personnel in working more safely and effectively. With the current expansion of GIS technology to better manage parks for future generations, managers need a greater understanding of the tools and practices available to them. To help meet this need, the U.S. National Park Service is partnering with Esri to provide a forum for park and resource managers and staff to better understand the power and utility of current GIS tools.

For more information or to contribute to or work on one of the conference planning teams, contact Joe Gregson, chief, GIS Division, Office of the Chief Information Officer, National Park Service (e-mail: Joe_Gregson@nps.gov).

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