South Mississippi Conservation leader to retire

The following is a news release from the National Forests in Mississippi:

Ron Smith, De Soto District Ranger and long-time conservation and natural resources leader in south Mississippi, is retiring from the U.S. Forest Service, effective March 30.

Under Smith's leadership, the District bounced back from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and garnered many honors and recognitions, including Ranger District of the Year Awards in 2007 and 2010 from the U.S. Forest Service's Southern Region.

"I've had an incredibly rewarding career with a truly wonderful organization.  I may be leaving the Forest Service but I'm not leaving the conservation profession," said Smith, a wildlife biologist and forester. Indeed, Smith who lives in nearby Oak Grove intends to be active in the natural resources community and continue to respond to calls for assistance to fight wildfires.

Indeed, last year, Smith received the Southern Region's line officer individual award from Fire and Aviation Management for leading efforts to reestablish Longleaf Pine, protect and improve threatened and endangered species habitat, improve forest health, reduce the threat of wildfire and protect adjacent communities.

Smith has had a remarkable Forest Service career that began in 1990 on the Talladega National Forest in Alabama where he worked as wildlife biologist and resource forester. In 1999, Smith joined the De Soto Ranger District as Planning Team Leader and served in that role until 2005 when he was promoted to District Ranger.

"Ron's contributions to the Forest Service in general and the De Soto in particular have been truly outstanding.  His accomplishments are many.  He has been a great steward of our public lands," said Gretta Boley, forest supervisor with the National Forests in Mississippi. "Ron will be greatly missed.  We wish him well on his retirement."