DULUTH, MN (March 9, 2015) Gus Smith, new District Ranger on the Kawishiwi Ranger District of the Superior National Forest, comes with extensive fire experience and familiarity with our region. 

Before joining the Forest Leadership Team on the Superior National Forest, Gus served at Yosemite National Park for six years as the Fire Ecologist. At Yosemite he worked with academic and federal researchers on fire science research in the Sierra Nevada, ran the fire effects monitoring program, and developed science-based planning tools for wildland fire management. Prior to that, he was on temporary detail to the Sierra National Forest for four months and spent another four months in Washington D.C. working on a detail for the Department of Interior in the Office of Wildland Fire.

Before going west, Gus was a professor at Northland College in Ashland, WI. Gus says he fell in love with the north woods while there as a college student then went on to teach wildlife ecology and management and other natural resources and biology courses. He became interested in fire when he co-hosted a symposium on the Northwest Sands Ecosystem with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Gus also taught classes at University of Minnesota at Duluth for two quarters.

In addition to academia, Gus has worked as a leader with youth organizations. He instructed at two Outward Bound Schools and worked first as the wilderness tripping program director then as camp director at YMCA Camp Manito-wish, Wisconsin. As the wilderness program director, Gus says; “I spent a lot of time dropping kids off and picking them up in Ely and at the end of the Gunflint Trail and hearing their great stories from the trail. But I have been on a lot of great trips in the Boundary Waters and Quetico and think some of those early experiences drove me to a career in natural resources management.”

Away from work, Gus, enjoys any opportunity to be outside. He says: “I love to hunt for antler sheds or find unique places and features on the landscape. It doesn’t have to be that spectacular to get me out – I often find an unnamed lake or beaver pond on a map and go try to find it.” Gus says he loves to cross-country ski, paddle (anything), fish, hunt, bird watch and also loves to read and cook.

Gus is married to Joy Meeker, a Minnesota native, who has four brothers living within four hours of Ely and parents in the Twin Cities. Joy is the Director of Education at Meridian University in California and hopes to continue teaching on-line graduate courses after moving to MN. Gus says he and Joy are really looking forward to becoming members of the Ely community.