Conference History

Coyote Bridge
Coyote Bridge, Escalante National Monument, Utah

Origins of the Biennial Conference

The Biennial Conference of Research on the Colorado Plateau began in 1991 as a means of sharing information among National Park researchers and land managers. Organized and hosted by the Colorado Plateau Research Station (CPRS), then a National Park Service Cooperative Research Studies Unit at Northern Arizona University (NAU) in Flagstaff, the conference seeks to highlight research and resource management efforts related to physical, cultural and biological resources within the biogeographic province of the Colorado Plateau.

Over the course of the decade the CPRS, broadened its client base by first becoming a unit of the National Biological Survey, and then of the Biological Resources Division of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). CPRS is now a part of the USGS Southwest Biological Science Center (SBSC), also in Flagstaff.

The USGS SBSC has a 22-year record of collaboratively organizing the Biennial Conference of Research on the Colorado Plateau. The Biennial Conference has been considered by many an international exemplar for bringing scientists and managers together to deal with regional conservation issues. The Biennial Conference has also been uniquely open to student scientists presenting their latest research.

With the conference no longer limited to National Park Service concerns, other Colorado Plateau land management agencies including the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the Forest Service began to participate, allowing the conference to grow in size and scope. NAU and several of its departments also increased their participation; conference sponsors now include the Center for Sustainable Environments (CSE), the Colorado Plateau Cooperative Ecosystem Study Unit (CP-CESU) and the Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research (MPCER).

A record of the proceedings has been published every two years. The Colorado Plateau Proceedings Series contributes to our increasing pool of fresh data, providing baseline scientific information pertinent to the Colorado Plateau's physical, cultural, and biological resources. Many of the protocols and management techniques presently being used in land management units in the region are a result of scientific work published in the proceedings.