(Belatedly) Wrapping up #SWSPNW 2012

Last week the Society of Wetland Scientists' Pacific Northwest Chapter convened their biannual conference in Boise, ID. This event happens roughly every other year, and is one of the premier networking events for those individuals working in wetland, riparian and coastal resources across Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and points nearby, like the Great Basin Ecoregion, western Canada, western Montana and parts of Alaska. The last SWS-PNW conference was in Bellingham, WA, and brought together a diverse group of government, consulting, academic and non-profit constituents, largely from across Cascadia. This year's festivities were moved to the Interior, where they hadn't occurred since the 2006 Yakima SWS-PNW-SERNW meeting, to keep the Society's events accessible to those of us whose local mountain ranges have names like the Tetons, Sawtooths, Bear Rivers and Northern Rockies.

This meeting was admittedly small, with less than forty talks over two days, it had the distinct feel of a meeting of acquaintances rather than the massive free-for-all that is an ESA or joint SWS/Intecol conference. A small group of individuals had worked diligently to pull everything together for the conference, and these same individuals continued to make sure that everything ran smoothly from session to session and event to event. Per normal, Yvonne Vallette, lifetime treasurer of the chapter (both in humor and in all actuality), was leading the charge with Syd Fredrickson and the rest of the chapter's board of directors front-loading massive amounts of time into the planning process. Thanks to everyone for their diligence and hard work - it was a blast!

The talks throughout both days were great for such a small conference. I am admittedly biased in my assessment as I organized a couple sessions on riparian ecology and invasive species for the week, but really the speakers were great. Alex Fremier, Josh Volk, Joe Wheaton, Elijah Portugal, Mike Hannam, Lloyd Nackley, Hannah Kinmonth-Schultz, Lexine Long, Lizbeth Seebacher, Andrew Ray, Frances Lucero, and Derek Risso all showed up with bells on and delivered great talks in their respective sessions. A subset of these talks will be running in Wetland Science & Practice later this year, so keep your eyes on the Society's website. I gave a talk too. Hopefully, most of the people who saw it took something away from it. There were several very tough acts to follow in that session (thanks Alex, Josh and Joe!), so it was great to just be a part of the session.

After two days of Boise - which was admittedly much nicer than I anticipated - wetland science, and wetland policy, I came away tired and motivated. These small meetings provide the basis for local chapters in professional societies, and really allow a foot in the door for students and professionals alike. SWS-PNW has done a great job of serving the regional wetland science and policy community, and after seeing a new cohort of student participants, I'm hopeful that the PNW chapter of SWS is in an expansionary phase. After seeing so many friends and colleagues last week, many of whom I'd met at the last three regional meetings, it became clear that SWS is our society, by the wetland community and for the wetland community. The many people who welcomed me into the SWS-PNW are still involved and will hopefully remain active even after their many years on boards, planning meetings and promoting the wetland science profession locally, nationally and abroad. I'm really looking forward to building on the foundation laid by the SWS-PNW community.

If you're a student or wetland professional anywhere near the Pacific Northwest, I urge you to join us and be a part of this exciting time for SWS-PNW!