NEPARC Conservation Awards

2019 Award Winner

Scott Smith is a Wildlife Diversity Ecologist for the Wildlife and Heritage Service, Maryland Department of Natural Resources. He has been with MD DNR since 1989 and the MD representative and active participant in Northeast Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (NEPARC) since its foundation in 1999.

Scott recognized the need for herpetofaunal conservation early in his career with MD DNR. Scott’s previous experience focused on bird ecology and conservation, but he switched gears to become a strong advocate and leader within and outside Maryland to research and conserve rare herpetofauna. In 2009, Scott was officially recognized as Maryland’s herpetofauna expert. Scott has responded to 1000s of questions from the public, appeared on Public Television programs, presented hundreds of lectures and seminars, mentored over 100 naturalists and 30 students, and managed many research and conservation projects at the local, state, and multi-state level.

Scott initiated and fostered many strong partnerships within Maryland including governmental and non-governmental organizations, universities, and herp enthusiasts. His partnership with Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) resulted in the protection of Bog Turtle habitat by re-routing roads that impacted their habitat. Scott recruited volunteers for Bog Turtle surveys, the Maryland Amphibian and Reptile Atlas, and Roadside Frog Calling Surveys. Scott established Maryland’s Diamondback Terrapin Working Group and co-led their Snapping Turtle Working Group. Scott’s work with Northern Map Turtle conservation partners resulted in the adoption of this species as a “town mascot”. Scott has nurtured partnerships with private landowners to protect and manage hundreds of acres of habitats.

Scott has been involved in many multi-state and regional partnerships. Scott led the Northeast Regional Conservation Needs Grants (RCN) to study Ranavirus distribution and prevalence in five states. Scott participated in Wood Turtle, Diamondback Terrapin, and Vernal Pool RCN projects. Scott also served as a member of the Reptile and Amphibian Subcommittee of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

As one of NEPARC’s founding members, Scott served as NEPARC co-chair (2005-2006), was instrumental in the formation of the NEPARC Steering Committee, and was a Steering Committee member for 7 years. Scott co-hosted the 2000 and hosted the 2011 NEPARC meetings. He has been a key member of several NEPARC working groups including: Model State Herp Regulatory Guidelines, Disinfection Protocol, Ranavirus FAQ, Emerging Diseases, Snake Brochure, Risk Assessment, and Northeast Species of Regional Responsibility and Conservation Concern.

Scott’s hard work resulted in SHA becoming an advocate for Bog Turtle conservation. His tireless efforts with NGOs and universities resulted in numerous research projects, increasing our understanding of species ecology, distribution, and behavior, protecting habitat, and guiding management actions. Scott’s partnerships with zoos and nature centers improved awareness of conservation issues and appreciation for herpetofauna. Scott’s work with the Maryland Terrapin Working Group led to new regulations and enforcement to minimize bycatch. A unique partnership between a town, university, and DNR led to protection of a critical nesting beach for Map Turtles, balancing economic goals and conservation needs.

Scott was pivotal in raising awareness of Ranavirus in the northeast. He stressed the importance of disinfecting field gear to prevent the spread of disease. Scott helped to draft educational brochures for the public, guidelines for managing habitat on public and private lands, and improving habitat quality for herpetofauna.

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Northeast Partners in Amphibian & Reptile Conservation is fiscally sponsored by the Amphibian & Reptile Conservancy a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit.