Johnny Stowe, wildlife biologist, forester and heritage preserve manager with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, recently assumed the chair of the South Carolina Prescribed Fire Council.
The South Carolina Prescribed Fire Council, which includes representatives of state and federal agencies and private consulting foresters, seeks to inform South Carolinians about the importance of prescribed fire. Stowe presided over a recent meeting of the group at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia, where a discussion was held about working together to continue the practice of burning the landscape for ecological and safety reasons. It is only through this cooperation, conservation officials agree, that prescribed fire can continue to be used as a land management tool in the Palmetto State.
Stowe said prescribed fire is the most economical and ecologically suited practice to keep South Carolina safe from wildfires and enhance the health and integrity of the state’s natural resources. Professional foresters and other land managers throughout the state use prescribed burning for reforestation, aesthetics and forest access. The method is also effective for managing and improving vital habitat of wildlife species such as bobwhite quail, Eastern wild turkey, white-tailed deer, gopher tortoise and the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker.
Stowe, who has been with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources for the past 10 years, received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Georgia’s School of Forest Resources. The major for his master’s degree was wildlife ecology and management and environmental philosophy. Stowe has been widely published in scientific journals and popular magazines such as South Carolina Wildlife. His duties at the S.C. Department of Natural Resources are many and varied. Stowe is responsible for the management of thousands of acres of heritage preserves in South Carolina’s Pee Dee region. Among his land management goals on these preserves are to restore and maintain rare plants, animals and ecosystems; to protect cultural and archaeological sites; and to provide for public recreation.
A respected and sought-after expert on prescribed burning in South Carolina, Stowe has many years of experience with this land-management tool. He has completed numerous prescribed fire-training courses with the U.S. Forest Service, S.C. Forestry Commission and The Nature Conservancy, a private conservation organization that conducts landscape-scale prescribed burning on its preserves. Stowe annually conducts prescribed burns on thousands of acres of South Carolina heritage preserves.
Stowe is also an authority on longleaf pine ecosystems and has published many articles on the subject. One longleaf ecosystem in particular that is near and dear to his heart is the mountain longleaf pine forests and associated ecosystems of northwest Georgia. Stowe, a native of Cedartown, Ga., is an avid supporter of the Mountain Longleaf Pine Project, a conservation and education effort spearheaded by Dr. Martin Cipollini at Berry College in Rome, Ga.
Stowe can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (803) 419-9374 in Columbia. The South Carolina Prescribed Fire Council can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com, by phone at (843) 546-1013, ext. 232, or visit its Web site: www.clemson.edu/rxfire.