Grand Staircase-Escalante Symposium 2023

Draft Agenda (in order of sessions; speaker order may vary)

Ways of Understanding and Protecting Land and Water Resources in the Grand Staircase-Escalante Region, Symposium 2023

March 16-17, 2023 | All times in Mountain Daylight Time

In person: Escalante Interagency Visitors Center (755 W Main St, Escalante, Utah) 

On Zoom:   (webinar; just click to watch)

Symposium Organizers:

Marc Coles-Ritchie and Kevin Berend








March 16th, 2023

Introductory Remarks – 9am

Linda Whitham — The Nature Conservancy, Central Canyonlands Program Manager

Laura Daniel-Davis — US Department of Interior, Assistant Secretary for Land & Minerals Management

Indigenous Perspectives – 9:15am

Autumn Gillard — Pipe Spring National Monument, Administrative Support, “Southern Paiute astronomy

Davina Smith — Dine’ Nation, board of Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, “Perspectives of a Dine’ Land Steward”

Max Early — Laguna Pueblo, “Poems on land and forest animals”

Clark Tenakhongva – “Hopi planting and crops”

Moderator: Georgie Pongyesva

Music by Clark Tenakhongva, Hopi musician


Wildlife – 11am

Olivia Carril, PhD — Bee Scientist and Consultant, “Exploring plants and their pollinators in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument:  A celebration of mutualisms”

Nicki Frey — Utah State University, Dept. Wildland Resources, Extension Associate Professor, “Breeding Birds in the Escalante River after Russian Olive Removal”

Macie Monahan — Bryce Canyon National Park, Wildlife Biologist Fellow, “How Bryce Canyon NP plans to mitigate Utah prairie dog road fatalities using wildlife underpasses”

Moderator – Jake Schoppe (Dixie National Forest)

Lunch Break; Music by Ed Kabotie, Tewa/Hopi Musician and Artist on Zoom

Water – 1pm

Crystal Tulley-Cordova — Navajo Nation Department of Water Resources, Principal Hydrologist, “Water and climate”

Laura Norman — U.S. Geological Survey, Western Geographic Science Center, Tucson, Research Physical Scientist, “Stream restoration and detention structures”

Seth Arens — Western Water Assessment, University of Colorado & University of Utah, Research Scientist, “Ecological succession in emerging tributaries to Glen Canyon with focus on Escalante region”

Larry Stevens – Spring Stewardship Institute, Director, “Spring ecosystem assessment and rehabilitation prioritization using GSENM and related data”

Moderator – Lydia Joukowsky (Utah State University, graduate student)

Break (10 minutes) with music

Research – 2:15pm 

Ryan Nourai — Grand Staircase Escalante Partners Board Member, Columbia University MFA Candidate, “The Role of Affordable Housings in Contemporary Conservation”

David Polly — Indiana University Dept of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, Professor, “Paleontology of the Grand Staircase-Escalante Region”

Tara Bishop — USGS-Moab, Ecologist, “Generalized State and Transition Models for Grand Staircase-Escalante landscape management using Ecological Site Groups”

Moderator – Kevin Berend (Grand-Staircase Escalante Partners)

March 17th, 2023

Vegetation – 9:15am

Lisbeth Louderback — Natural History Museum of Utah, Curator of Archaeology; University of Utah, Associate Professor of Anthropology, “Detecting Domestication of the Four Corners Potato (Solanum jamesii Torr.)” (co-authors:  Bruce Pavlik, Alfonso del Rio, John Bamberg, and Cynthia Wilson)

Stan Kitchen — US Forest Service (ret.), Research Botanist and Ecologist, “Frequent Surface Fire: a Keystone Process in pre-1900 Southern Utah Forests”

Steve Leavitt — Brigham Young University, Asst. Professor of Biology & Curator of Lichens, “Lichen diversity in biological soil crusts”

Moderator – Marc Coles-Ritchie (Grand Canyon Trust)

History – 10:15am

John Leshy — Univ of Calif emeritus professor of law; past Solicitor U.S. Department of Interior, “History of GSENM establishment”

Nizhoni Tallas — University of Arizona, School of Natural Resources and the Environment, Graduate Student & Research Assistant, “It’s a Sign: Understanding Variations in Telling of Indigenous Stories Within Public Outdoor Spaces”

Tamra Borchardt — Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, Tribal Vice Chairperson & Indian Peaks Band Chairperson, “Termination of the Indian Peaks Band to Federal Recognition; including historical aspects that will examine environmental and socio-economics of the Indian Peaks Band”

Moderator – Julie Suhr Pierce (Natural Resource Economist)

Break (10 minutes) with music

Engagement – 11:30am

Audrey Kruse — Grand Canyon Trust, Community Engagement Director, Community Engagement at the Grand Canyon Trust

Kaitlin Martin — Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, Stewardship Programs Manager, “Volunteering work of Grand Staircase Escalante Partners”

Artemisia Turiya — Bureau of Land Management, Paria River District, Planning and Environmental Coordinator, Your Contributions to BLM Planning: Tools for Presenting Information and Knowledge


Thursday night, at Grand Staircase-Escalante Partners (530 W Main St, Escalante, Utah) :

Shattering The Pictures in Our Heads” is a documentary film steeped in the sights, sounds, and individual stories from Indigenous communities in the Intermountain West. 

Symposium Walks (optional)

Friday Afternoon

Escalante River Gorge Trail, near town of Escalante

Saturday Morning

Traces in Time Nature Walkabout

Date:  March 18, 2023 (Saturday) 10am to 1pm

Location:  Kiva Koffeehouse on Hwy 12, Mile marker 73.86

Distance:  1-2 miles

Leaders: Sage Sorenson & Marc Coles-Ritchie

Step back in time and visit dinosaur tracks, a cliff dwelling, petroglyphs and pictographs, pioneer inscriptions and historical sites along the Old Boulder Cream Cellar Route. We will want to document past and present events and traverse a beautiful side canyon to the Escalante River. Along the way, there are stories of monumental importance as we connect with nature, including some botanizing. Consider downloading these apps Seek, iNaturalist and Merlin for your citizen science observations. You might want to bring a lunch to eat at the end of our nature walk.