Ryan Kleinert – Wilderness Conservationist

Meet Ryan Kleinert, a sophmore who has taken an unusual path to the University of Rhode Island. Yeah, I grew up in New Jersey. I grew up in suburbia. I’m surrounded by strip malls and as soon as I, I had this innate love of wilderness and of plants and animals, and I knew that I wanted something more. I decided right after high school to go live in the southern Appalachian wilderness of western North Carolina and to just immerse myself in biodiversity and to learn to study botany, and surround myself around plants and animals. And then after that I decided to, that I wanted to live up north, I wanted to live by lakes. I wanted to live somewhere that was glaciated. So I moved to the Adirondack Mountains and lived in a little cabin for about two years without running water, without electricity. Spent a lot of time canoeing, skiing, hiking, bushwhacking, and just studying botany and just becoming as intimately connected to that bioregion as I possibly could. I found solace, but I realized I wanted something more, that I realized I felt a little retreatist, and decided to go back to school to pursue a formal education and I wanted my, I want my life to have an impact on this world. Ryan is conducting research funded by URI’s Coastal Fellows program, mapping and collecting inventory on invasive plant species that are over-taking wildlife areas around Rhode Island. The intention behind this project is to, it’s an early response, to find the invasives in the refuge, know exactly where they are, and to go back and remove them before they can get a foothold. Hopefully, ideally removing all the invasives and all the seeds present. Some of the basic plants that I’m looking for and coming accross include Oriental Bittersweet, Multiflora Rose, Privit, Japanese Knotweed. They’re an issue because invasive plants, they displace natives, they take over an area and absolutely consume everything in their path. You can see how it grows and just consumes everything, just creating these thick mats and nothing else can grow, creating this monotypic, sterile area. A lot of these invasive plants were brought here intentionally for, to curb erosion, or to provide food for wildlife. Some others were planted intentionally for ornamentals and they’re just escaped. Others just came from, they’re just shipped here unintentionally and just exploded once they got here. Definitely a big problem for Rhode Island.

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