By: Kimberley Denney, Associate Vice President

The 2015 George Wright Society (GWS) Biennial Conference on Parks, Protected Areas, and Cultural Sites will commence next Monday, March 30th in Oakland, California.  As stated on the GWS Conference website, this event is the USA’s largest interdisciplinary professional conference on parks, protected areas, and cultural sites. For professionals working in national parks, other kinds of protected areas, and cultural sites, it is the country’s largest and most important meeting of its kind. The conference has taken place for thirty years, but for Atlantic, this will be its first year to attend. Although new to the GWS Conference scene and perhaps an unfamiliar firm to a majority of the professionals attending, Atlantic has a prominent resume for providing geospatial solutions to the United States Department of Interior National Park Service (USDI NPS) and the partner organizations with whom NPS works with around the nation.

Atlantic’s specialized background in airborne remote sensing and geospatial data development has qualified our firm to map a variety of NPS-related projects throughout the United States. Project locations range anywhere from extremely remote sites unrecognized by many to some of the most well-known landmarks in the world.  In 2013, Atlantic was contracted to collect remotely sensed data of two sites inside the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge located in southwestern Alaska near the city of Bethel.  Despite the challenges our team faced in performing the ground control portion of the project due to the lack of transportation routes, Atlantic succeeded and was honored to deliver high resolution digital orthophotography and LiDAR data of the areas within the second-largest National Wildlife Refuge in the country. Later in 2013, Atlantic was selected as the preferred contractor via our GSA Environmental Services Contract to acquire and process high density LiDAR (8-10 points per square meter) of the Frijoles Watershed within Bandelier National Monument for the NPS.  This project received national recognition in an article titled “Using LiDAR to Preserve and Protect Bandelier National Monument” published in the March 2014 edition of LiDAR News. More recently and a bit closer to home ( +/- 3,800 miles closer than Bethel), Atlantic was awarded a contract to acquire and develop USGS Quality Level 2 LiDAR data for a portion of America’s most visited national park – the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The three project examples briefly described above are located at nearly three opposite ends of the United States and together only makeup a small piece of the 87 million acre coverage area of the National Park System.  Our objective in attending the GWS Conference is to gain a better understanding of the challenges being faced in the remaining + 86.9 million acres of the National Park System in order to identify where our services can be applied as solutions.  We want to truly understand the extent of the budget cuts impacting the NPS, participate in the innovative and forward-thinking discussions, listen to the challenges or issues pending for the next best solution, etc. We want to support the NPS as it works day to day to fulfill its mission statement as defined in the Organic Act of 1916.

I am very excited to attend this year’s GWS Conference and look forward to meeting professionals from all fields.  On the GWS Conference website there is a small section describing what is different about GWS conferences.  The section closes with, “When it comes to parks, our area of interest is the entire world.” Atlantic shares that same passion and could not have said it better ourselves.

To connect with Kimberley during the conference, please e-mail her at Also, feel free to follow her on twitter @kimdenney