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Fred Rozumalski

Senior Landscape Architect and Ecologist

Fred guiding a group of Swedes on a tour of Crex Meadows near Grantsburg, Wisconsin

Fred Rozumalski always had a passion for plants and gardening. He was curious about why plant communities shifted across the landscape and why some species dominate in one area but not in others.

This led him to earn a degree in horticulture, but he discovered that there weren’t many jobs in the field. With his advisor’s encouragement, Fred went on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in landscape architecture as well as an undergraduate minor in ecology. That in turn led to a fellowship to design and supervise the installation of a 14-acre sedge meadow at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

“The challenge was to successfully restore a diverse wetland community,” said Fred. “We accomplished this through careful planning and diligent management, and the interpretive trail, boardwalk, and signage design engage people to understand by looking rather than by reading.”

This project—along with co-authoring a lakescaping book for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources—set in motion the course of his career.

“After my fellowship ended, I needed to find a job,” said Fred. “Barr had performed the wetland delineation for the sedge meadow so I sent them my resume.”

And the timing was perfect. Barr needed someone who understood aesthetics and ecology as it related to engineering, and Fred joined Barr as its first ecologist.

“I honestly never expected to be working for an engineering firm,” admitted Fred. “Here I’ve had the chance to work on projects that I never would have had access to alone. Using an interdisciplinary approach allows me to do things better by drawing on others' expertise.”

Finding a balance between ecology and engineering also means addressing human needs, especially the Midwestern desire for neatness and tidiness in the landscape.

“Any given landscape is in progress,” said Fred. “It must be guided to where you want it to go, or it’ll go where invasive species want it to go. The key to our success has been figuring out how to establish sustainable landscapes with low maintenance, and treating people as an integral part of the equation.”

Even when he travels, Fred is constantly looking at natural and unaltered landscapes to learn and discover new techniques to incorporate into his work or at home.

Beyond landscape ecology, Fred is a certified permaculturist, teaching classes in sustainable living, food production, and water conservation and reuse.