April 16, 2019
Johnny Stowe, Heritage Preserve manager with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), was recently named to the board of directors of the International Association of Wildland Fire. The International Association of Wildland Fire, based in Missoula, Montana, is an independent organization whose membership includes experts in all aspects of wildland fire.
Stowe is a S.C. Registered Forester and Certified Wildlife Biologist in SCDNR's Pee Dee/Catawba Region. He has managed SCDNR heritage preserves with prescribed fire for 23 years. He represents the department on wildland fire management, policy, education and outreach issues, and he helped form the South Carolina Prescribed Fire Council. Stowe lit his first fires 50 years ago on the family farm that he still burns today. His passions and energy center on the cultural and natural heritage of prescribed fire and its connection to human ecology, on putting good-fire on-the-ground to restore and maintain the integrity of imperiled ecosystems, and on engaging and mentoring the next generation of wildland fire leaders and managers.
"This is an incredible honor for Johnny to be named to the board of the International Association of Wildland Fire," said Billy Dukes, SCDNR chief of wildlife. "Being appointed to an international board like this shows just how well respected and highly regarded Johnny is within the wildland fire community."
"I’ve been very fortunate to have many good teachers and mentors over the years," said Stowe, "including my family and friends when I was growing up, my colleagues at SCDNR and many private landowners and others in the prescribed fire community here in the Southeast, and in the global wildland fire community. I am very grateful to all those folks, and especially to retired U.S. Forest Service Fire Researcher Dale Wade for taking me under his wing when I first came to South Carolina. Dale connected me with folks in the IAWF; he has for 23 years patiently taught and corrected and guided and challenged me, and he has enabled my lifelong love of learning and teaching. I am striving to share the Southland's prescribed fire culture with others around the globe. Modern fire science began in Southeastern North America, and using controlled burning to reduce fuel loads and enhance public safety, and to provide a wide range of ecological, economic and cultural benefits, is a deeply rooted part of Southern heritage, and it is more important now than ever. And, of course, the benefits flow both ways—over the last decade I have learned a great deal from IAWF folks, and it is exciting to bring that knowledge back to South Carolina. And I am very grateful to the IAWF for the opportunity to serve on its board."
The mission of the International Association of Wildland Fire (IAWF) is to facilitate communication and provide leadership for the wildland fire community. The IAWF was formed to promote a better understanding of wildland fire and built on the belief that an understanding of this dynamic natural force is vital for natural resource management, for firefighter safety, and for harmonious interaction between people and their environment.