Pre-Conference Symposia and Training


Events in development include a symposium on Extinction or management of owls: the dilemma of the barred owl invasion in California, a Wildlife Biologist Construction Awareness Training (WildC.A.T.), a Story Circles Narrative Training DEMO DAY with Randy Olson, a workshop on protecting wildlife from marijuana cultivation, and a Wilderness First Aid certification class. Stay tuned for more information!


4C’s: Cannabis Culture and Compliance in California  New!

  • Tuesday, February 6:  8:30am – 5:00pm (Alexander 1)
  • Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country
  • Organized by Josh Meisel, Department of Sociology and Humboldt Institute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research, Humboldt State University.
  • Requires separate fee, Link to rates
  • Link to Agenda: Agenda Cannabis Culture and Compliance

The cannabis policy landscape in California has changed dramatically over the past 22 years with the hope that  environmentally destructive cultivation practices would disappear as growers come into compliance with state regulations. The purpose of this workshop is to address the extent to which cultivation practices and cultural values are aligned with state cannabis regulations. Morning presentations will explore the variable dimensions of cannabis culture and cultivation practices as well as include updates from the field on what is being seen in terms of environmental impacts from cannabis agriculture. Afternoon presentations will include grower perspectives on environmental regulations as well as resource agency strategies for promoting regulatory compliance. The workshop will conclude with a facilitated discussion involving all presenters.


  • Greta Wengert, Integral Ecology Research Center, “Are we out of the woods yet? Trends of environmental threats from marijuana cultivation in our public forests”
  • Corinne Gray, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, “CDFW’s Cannabis Program: getting legal in a fluid landscape”
  • Matt Carr, Environment and Workplace Safety Circuit Prosecutor, California District Attorney’s Association, “Environmental Laws Associated with Cannabis Cultivation”
  • Gary Jakobs, Ascent Environmental Consulting, “CEQA: A Path Toward Tackling Community and Environmental Issues”
  • Dominic Corva, Executive Director, Center for the Study of Cannabis and Social Policy, “The Nature of Prohibition as an Ecological Institution”
  • Nathan Whittington, Board of Directors: California Growers Association and Owner, Ladybug Herbal Sanctuary, “Pioneering Cannabis Environmental Stewardship”
  • Amanda Reiman, PhD, VP of Community Relations for Flow Kana and Board of Directors: International Cannabis Farmers Association and the Open Cannabis Project, “How the success of small cannabis farmers can inform other AG industries”

Panel Discussion

Extinction or management of owls: the dilemma of the barred owl invasion in California

  • Monday, February 5:  8:00am-5:30pm (Alexander 1)
  • Organizer: R. J. Gutiérrez, Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Requires separate fee, Link to rates
  • To conserve paper and reduce energy consumption, abstracts for the Barred Owl-Spotted Owl Symposium are provided electronically. The hotel offers free WiFi internet access so you may access abstracts online during the meeting. If you would like to print your own copies of the abstracts – you may access the file at the following link: – Barred Owl_Spotted Owl Symposium Abstracts_FINAL
  • Agenda – Barred Owl_Spotted Owl Symposium_agenda_5 Feb 2018_Final

The barred owl (Strix varia) invaded the range of the spotted owl (Strix occidentalis) many years ago and now occupies all parts of the northern spotted owl’s range.  During this invasion process, no management actions have been taken such that complete extirpation of northern spotted owl (S. o. caurina) may be the ultimate outcome of this invasion.  The barred owl invasion and the interactions of the barred and spotted owl were the subject of a symposium at the last Western Section meeting held in Santa Rosa, California in 2015. The papers presented at that meeting focused on the situation within in the range of the northern spotted.
In contrast to the northern spotted owl situation, the barred owl has only more recently invaded the range of the California spotted owl (S. o. occidentalis) in the Southern Cascade Range and Sierra Nevada of California.  Densities of barred owls are currently low and their distribution disjunct in these ranges, reflecting a situation that existed in the early 1980s in the range of the northern spotted owl.  It has been proposed that the time to manage this invasion is now – not when the situation verges on hopelessness.  Therefore, the purpose of this symposium is to provide updates on new research and management of the barred owl and northern spotted owl since the last Santa Rosa meeting as well as on research now beginning in the range of the California spotted owl.  Presentations of this new research will be followed by a panel discussion among experts about potential issues and management options for the barred owl invasion in the Sierra Nevada.

Wilderness First Aid with Foster Calm – 16 hours

  • February 5-6, Hyatt Vineyard Creek (Russian River Ballroom)
  • Monday 1-9:30pm (1-hour dinner break on your own) and Tuesday 8am-6pm (one-hour lunch break on your own)
  • Requires separate registration ($160)
  • Limited to the first 24 registrants
  • Instructor:  Bobbie Foster, Foster Calm

foster-calmIn addition to a half-day of outdoor scenario practice of first aid and leadership skills, this class focuses on practicing skills and covering: patient assessment, shock and bleeding, head and spinal injuries, wounds, musculoskeletal injuries, heat and cold illnesses, and much more. Gain some good tools and knowledge to handle a wilderness first aid emergency. Successful completion of class includes a Wilderness First Aid certificate.
Classes are fun with lots of hands-on skills practice. The emphasis is on making good decisions by staying calm and safe, doing a good patient assessment, and having good communication and leadership. Join our classes, where it is safe to learn and OK to make mistakes.

Wildlife Biologist Construction Awareness Training (WildC.A.T.)

  • Tuesday, February 6:  1:00 – 5:00pm (Chalk Hill)WildC.A.T. logo
  • Requires separate registration, Link to rates
  • A half-day afternoon workshop immediately before the 2018 Annual Meeting of The Western Section of The Wildlife Society
  • Limited to the first 40 registrants
  • Organized by Erika Walther
  • Link to agenda:  WildCAT_Handout_Workshop Agenda

Wildlife biologists are often called on to provide technical expertise and implement protective measures on construction sites, but they rarely receive practical training in environmental permits or safety as they enter the workforce. This half-day workshop provides an introduction to construction monitoring for recent graduates, early career professionals, and regular construction monitors, and will be taught by experienced wildlife biologists, construction personnel, and health and safety officers. Learn about the environmental permits that require construction monitoring, what to expect on construction job sites, situational awareness and health and safety basics, common environmental protection issues and Best Management Practices, effective communication techniques with construction crews, and useful tools of the trade. Upon completion of the workshop, attendees will receive a certificate of completion and helmet sticker that shows prospective employers and construction personnel in the field that they have attended WildC.A.T. training.  Any questions?  If so, please contact organizer Erika Walther:
Here’s what last year’s workshop participants said:
“I really enjoyed the open and welcome interaction between the speakers and audience. The input from both sides is very helpful for one who is very new to the field of construction bio-monitoring.”
“I’ve been monitoring construction projects for years and some things were presented that I never thought about!”
“Excellent overview – with many helpful details – on the trade. This was a great introduction that covered all aspects well.”

Story Circles Narrative Training DEMO DAY with Randy Olson  

STORY CIRCLES is a new form of communications training developed by scientist-turned-filmmaker Randy Olson, author of, “Houston, We Have A Narrative: Why Science Needs Story.”  The training focuses on narrative structure, which is the central challenge of effective communication.  It consists of two parts — the introductory Demo Day to familiarize the participants with the training program and the full training (10, one-hour sessions).
We will offer the Demo Day at the 2018 TWS-WS Annual Meeting.  The Demo Day consists of a three-hour session.  The first half of the session is Narrative Analysis in which groups are given materials to analyze using the ABT Narrative Template and other narrative tools developed for Story Circles. The second half of the Demo Day is Narrative Development, where the tools are used to develop the core narrative of projects that participants are working on.

After participating in the Demo Day, participants may choose to sign up for the full training (the 10, one-hour weekly sessions, which can be run through teleconferencing).  The training is now being implemented by several government agencies (USDA, USFWS, NPS, USGS), universities (Tufts, Yale, Univ Maryland, UCLA), and corporate clients (Genentech). There have been 26 Story Circles completed, with many more scheduled.  More details on Story Circles can be found at: