From the Field: Conservation Specialist Beth Schlimm
Born and raised in the Baltimore area, Beth Schlimm has always had an appreciation for Maryland’s wildlife. As a kid and aspiring herpetologist, she loved nothing more than spending days outside on the hunt for slimy and scaly critters like salamanders and snakes.
During her undergraduate studies, Schlimm assisted a Maryland Department of Natural Resources radio telemetry study of the federally protected bog turtle. “We use radio telemetry to track bog turtles’ movements in wetlands, helping to figure out how they use different habitats and behave during their secretive lives,” she explains.
After obtaining a B.S. in biology from Stevenson University, she accepted an internship with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Massachusetts where she worked on the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Looking for more experience working with reptiles and amphibians, she headed south to Georgia where she worked in the herpetology lab of an ecological research center. After cutting her teeth on a diverse array of field projects studying reptiles and amphibians of the longleaf pine ecosystem, she attended the University of Georgia and earned an M.S. in Forest Resources.
Despite her love for the wildlife of the southeast, Schlimm wanted to contribute to conservation efforts in her home state. She returned to Maryland and joined DNR’s Natural Heritage Program in 2016. As a conservation specialist, Schlimm works on a variety of projects from conservation efforts focused on a single species to habitat management and restoration of entire natural communities.
One of Schlimm’s favorite parts of her job is continuing to work on the recovery of the bog turtle. A passion to protect this tiny turtle has mobilized partners across the northeast region of the United States to work together on data collection and habitat protection. Schlimm’s position requires coordination with state and federal agencies, as well as an army of dedicated volunteers. In addition to organizing continued monitoring of Maryland’s bog turtle populations, she assists with management and restoration efforts of their disappearing wetland habitat.
Schlimm has also joined long-term monitoring and management efforts launched by department biologists Scott Smith and Wayne Tyndall for the eastern tiger salamander, a species that is making a comeback in Maryland. Last fall, Schlimm began work on a Delmarva Bay habitat management project with the ultimate goal of restoring a series of wetlands to conditions that might support breeding tiger salamanders as well as a suite of waterfowl and amphibian species. Restoring these wetlands will create a corridor of habitat on protected state land, which will allow wildlife species like the eastern tiger salamander to move and breed within a larger area.
In addition to wildlife work, Schlimm spends much of her time on land management projects that include invasive vegetation control and assisting with prescribed burns led by the department and other partner conservation organizations. “The breadth of knowledge and expertise in the Natural Heritage Program is vast,” she says. “I enjoy getting the opportunity to learn from other staff, while lending a hand to conserve Maryland habitats and species.”
Article appears in Vol. 23, No. 2 of the Maryland Natural Resource magazine, summer 2020.