While Prescribed Burn Associations (PBAs) focus on local fire, we also recognize the benefits of learning and seeking inspiration from other regions. In that spirit, the Tall Timbers supported Southwest Georgia PBA headed to North Carolina to represent our region at the 14th Biennial Longleaf Conference hosted by the Longleaf Alliance.
The Longleaf Alliance put on a great conference, and perhaps the precipice of the event was the awards ceremony, where Individuals and organizations alike are recognized for their successes in the field of longleaf pine management. In the eyes of our PBA, which resides in a state that is 90% privately owned, one of the essential awards recognizes “an individual or organization for outstanding efforts in championing prescribed fire to ensure the future of the longleaf ecosystem on private land, The Burner Bob® Prescribed Fire Champion.” This year, the award went to friend-of-fire and wildland fire-lighter Johnny Stowe.
Johnny Stowe is a man of immense character who is a steward of our southern ecosystems. A Georgia native and alum, Johnny is a forester, wildlife biologist and heritage preserve manager by trade. He grew up in the mountains of north Georgia where he worked in the timber industry before returning to school to at the University of Georgia. Johnny has always had a holistic style of management; he began burning over half a century ago on his farm that he still burns today. As a South Carolina heritage preserve manager, he has incorporated (and reincorporated) fire into his heritage sites and private lands for the last 27 years. Some of the stands under his management have seen fire every single one of those years.
Johnny, who makes an appearance in both the Florida and Georgia state burner certification class content, has certainly had an impact on many of the fire practitioners who manage our private lands. The Southwest Georgia Prescribed Burn Association would like to thank Johnny for all he’s done to champion private lands fire and education over the years. We hope to carry Johnny’s message of sharing the flame with all of our landowners, no matter the size of their property. As we launch into 2023, we are inspired to continue sharing the flame and fostering long-term resilient prescribed fire use in this incredible region.