Thomas F. Ries
Southeast Biological Services and Restoration Director

ESA  Staff

Thomas Ries, recognized by the Environmental Law Institute with the National Wetlands Conservation and Restoration Award in 2013, brings extensive experience and leadership for the restoration and ongoing management of natural resources in the Southeast United States.

His decades-long career has woven through more than 99 habitat and stormwater retrofit projects, some of which have been recognized with industry awards for design excellence. His passion for ecosystem management has made him an expert in habitat restoration practices, which is complemented by his professional experience with National Wetlands Inventory mapping, biotic sampling and analysis, environmental permitting, and environmental construction oversight.

Tom specializes in the delineation of freshwater and estuarine wetlands in accordance with federal, state, regional, and local definitions. His role and his level-headed temperament have made him an ideal candidate for numerous government advisory committees, and he has worked with neighborhood groups and concerned citizens to achieve consensus for a myriad of environmental topics. Tom has been heavily involved in the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, Rookery Bay and Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserves, and he has worked with and alongside the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) on most of their Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) priority projects.

Before becoming an environmental consultant and co-owner of Scheda Ecological Associates, Tom was an SWFWMD employee and program manager for their SWIM program. He took on the industrious task of developing restoration plans for four of their priority water bodies (Lake Panasoffkee, Tampa Bay, Sarasota Bay, and Charlotte Harbor). In addition, he oversaw the seagrass trend analysis program from 1988 through 1997 for the entire west central Florida coastline. The information gleaned by this program is used to assess the health of the coastal estuaries and provides resource managers with an important tool to further enhance these coastal waters. Tom holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in Geology from the University of South Florida and a U.S. Coast Guard Captain’s License, which he uses when performing waterborne surveys for seagrass mapping efforts as well as field assessments for coral relocations and beach re-nourishment projects.