A new ecologist now presides over the land of the Limberlost and some of the highest ranked bird towns in the state. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources appointed Ryan Smith to be the new ecologist for the east central region of Indiana this July. Smith is a Fort Wayne native, who studied biology at Purdue Fort Wayne. Following the receipt of his bachelor's degree, he continued his education at the same school and received a master's degree in the same subject.
“I am now responsible for the nature preserves in my fourteen-county region,” said Smith, “I manage the Division of Nature Preserve properties and trails to ensure they are well maintained and accessible to anyone wanting to experience east central Indiana's natural areas.”
In accomplishing these goals, Smith has a wide variety of tasks that he undertakes. This includes land maintenance, monitoring the areas, controlling the spread of invasive species, acquiring and restoring property, and utilizing prescribed burns. Additionally, Smith will provide technical assistance to land trusts and other organizations to aid them in the management of their own land.
In addition to Adams County, Smith also manages Allen, Huntington, Wells, Miami, Grant, Blackford, Jay, Delaware, Randolph, Henry, Wayne, Union, and Fayette. He is one of eight different regional ecologists. To Smith, this job provides him the opportunity to continue some of the passions he had from a very young age.
“My younger brother and I would explore the small woods behind [our] house every chance we had. While I was fascinated with all aspects of the natural environment, I took a particular interest in birds. I have been actively bird watching since I was fourteen years old,” said the ecologist, “I am thrilled to be in this position and look forward to many years of positively impacting the ecological communities in my region.”
For more information about the nature of the local area, or to contact the east central region ecologist, contact 260-368-7594 or email rysmith1@dnr.IN.gov.