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Featured Voices – Interviews with Landscape Practitioners and Scholars

By Guest Observer February 28, 2017
Credit: National Park Service

Last month we added a new element to the Living Landscape Observer – Featured Voices. Going forward, each issue will highlight the work, experiences and perspective of an individual involved in the practice of landscape conservation or the study of large landscapes. Our interviewees will come from academia, the public sector, nonprofit organizations and business- all with the ultimate goal of sharing knowledge and insights into this complex and growing field.

US National Parks on the Southern Border

By Brenda Barrett February 27, 2017
Border Fence 
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

The landscape of the southern boundary of the United States is complex and evolving. Read three vignettes of the current conditions facing the National Parks in carrying out their mission on the border. Recent proposals to harden the infrastructure of the border, for example to build a wall, and to increase militarization and enforcement will not make accomplishing the agency’s mission any easier.

US World Heritage: Filling the Gaps

Ellis Island New York
By Ingfbruno; CC BY-SA 3.0,

World Heritage designation connotes that a property is of outstanding universal value. It is seen a source of national pride, a potential ticket to more state support, and a possible economic benefits from increased tourism. However, this appellation is not as well known or sought after in the United States as in most other countries. So it is a big deal that the US has updated its World Heritage tentative list for the first time since 2008.

1981 and 2017: What Can We Learn?

By Eleanor Mahoney January 30, 2017
Secretary of Interior James Watt (at left) and President Ronald Reagan in 1982. Watt, a longtime critic of federal land management policies, was among Reagan's more controversial cabinet picks. Photo by Mary Anne Feckelman, The White House. Image from

What, if anything, can looking back at an earlier period of rapid change following a presidential election reveal about what the future might hold for environmental, health and preservation policies?

More Than Campfire Conversation

By Guest Observer January 29, 2017
“The Early Leaders,” re-imagined by The George Wright Forum.

In his most recent Letter from Woodstock long time National Park Service leader Rolf Diamant paints a bigger and more complex picture of the creation of the National Park idea than the fabled Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir camping trip. He asks that we keep before us this broader vision of the National Parks. This will be particularly challenging in the hard times ahead when the temptation will be to retreat into a defensive posture to protect park funding and resources.