Annual Meeting Speaker Bios

PPFC 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting

Speaker Bios


Dr. Craig Harper, Keynote Speaker

Dr. Craig HarperCraig Harper is a Professor of Wildlife Management and the Extension Wildlife Specialist at the University of Tennessee. His primary responsibility is assisting natural resource professionals and landowners with issues concerning wildlife management. Dr. Harper’s Extension programming and research efforts have concentrated on applied wildlife management, especially as related to forest management, early succession management, prescribed fire effects, herbicide applications, quality deer management, and food plot management. he has conducted research on food plots, wildlife openings, and their use by wildlife since 1994. Craig earned an A.A.S. in Fish and Wildlife Management from Haywood Community College, a B.S. in Natural Resources Management from Western Carolina University, an M.S. in Biology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and a Ph.D. in Forest Resources from Clemson University.


Concurrent Session Speakers

Adam Warwick

Adam WarwickAdam has been a wildlife biologist and land manager for 16 years, and a NWCG Burn Boss (RXB2) for The Nature Conservancy's Southern Blue Ridge Program. He oversees management for about 10,000 acres of the important natural communities in western North Carolina. He has established and developed a highly successful and one-of-a-kind 22-person call-when-needed fire crew that is helping bring fire back to the Southern Appalachians. He leads multiple SBR Fire Learning Network landscapes and leads the Bog Learning Network. Adam grew up in eastern Tennessee and obtained a B.S. in Zoology from the University of Tennessee. He also received a M.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife from the University of Missouri. Adam learned to burn in the longleaf pine flatwoods of northern Florida, working with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for nine years before moving to western North Carolina. Today, he lives with his wife, daughter, and a slew of animals near Mills River, North Carolina where he enjoys hunting, whitewater kayaking, mountain biking, and welding.

TOPIC: GO time! The briefing commences, and the burn boss is going through the burn plan elements; arriving at the all-important” burn objectives.” How many times have you heard the objective “to improve wildlife habitat?” What does that mean and is it even achievable? Choose any random 200 acres of Appalachian pine or mixed hardwood forest, and you could have at least a couple hundred vertebrate species. How do you balance the needs of all the species we have? This one-hour session will be devoted to a discussion about burn plan objectives and how the life history of wildlife species can be accounted for. This hour will be devoted to a discussion about fire management goals, burn plan objectives, and how the life history and specific needs of wildlife species and groups may be addressed in your burn plans.

Craig Kostrzewski

Craig KostrzewskiCraig has been involved in wildland fire management and suppression since 1997 when he began working for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in central Florida. After leaving Florida, Craig worked for the Minnesota DNR, Division of Wildlife; USDA, Wildlife Services - National Rabies Management Program; US Department of Defense, Air Force; the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission; and currently for the US Forest Service as the Forest Assistant Fire Management Officer on the Allegheny National Forest. He has been involved in fire suppression and fuels management projects in many regions of the country, along with All-Risk incidents such as hurricane and flood relief incidents. Craig is from New England and obtained his Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Management from the University of New Hampshire and his Master of Science in Wildlife Science from South Dakota State University. Currently, Craig assists with the management of the Allegheny’s fire management program and is responsible for the planning and implementation of the forest’s fuels program, where he works to integrate the use of prescribed fire within land and resource management planning. Recently, Craig was on a detail assignment as the Allegheny’s Forest Fire Management Officer, where he directed the forest’s fire management program.

TOPIC: Craig will be presenting information to the group regarding the planning for contingency actions and their execution, if required. The Council is represented by many different agencies and organizations, and agency/organization direction concerning contingency planning may differ. As part of his presentation, he will also be discussing the training and use of the Medical Incident Report (commonly referred to the 8 Line) for medical and trauma incidents.

Dr. Mike Gallagher

Dr. Mike GallagherMike Gallagher is a research ecologist with the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station, stationed at the Silas Little Experimental Forest in New Lisbon, New Jersey. Mike has a PhD in Ecology and Evolution from Rutgers University, where his graduate work contrasted effects of prescribed fire and wildfire in the New Jersey Pinelands. Aside from new research on the impacts of fire on ticks, Mike’s current work focuses on improving physics-based fire behavior simulators that can help support fire management strategy and train firefighters, prescribed fire effects, and new technology-based approaches to assessing fuels. Mike is also an active member of the North Atlantic Fire Science Exchange (NAFSE) as a Community Representative and is the lead of their Virtual Fire Lab for students. Mike is also a red-carded wildland firefighter and participates in training, prescribed burning, and wildfire response as a part of the 93-year partnership in wildland fire science between New Jersey Forest Fire Service and the experimental forest.

TOPIC: Ticks are a critical vector of infectious diseases to humans, particularly in the eastern United States. Anecdotal evidence from historic texts suggests that controlled burning once was thought to be an important control of ticks in the Eastern United States. Over the past 100+ years, the “fire suppression” era has marked a substantial loss of prescribed fire in many eastern forests, while at the same time many other factors have marked the rise of tick population shifts and transmission of tick-borne diseases. Given what we now know about tick ecology and fire effects, it is plausible that fire could sustain reductions in tick populations due to long-term fire effects on forest structure and microclimate that are directly and indirectly critical to tick survival. New research in the New Jersey Pine Barrens at the Northern Research Station’s Silas Little Experimental has compares tick populations between unburned pine forest and that which was treated with prescribed fire, for a 2-year post-fire period. Results demonstrate important linkages between tick populations and fire frequency and severity, as well as patterns in microclimate and forest structure that would presumably reduce habitat quality for ticks.

Dr. Jesse Kreye

Dr. Jesse KreyeJesse Kreye is an Assistant Research Professor of Fire and Natural Resources Management in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management at Penn State University. He has worked in fire research and education across the U.S. and worked in forestry and fire management with the U.S. Forest Service in California and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

TOPIC: Prescribed burning has steadily increased in Pennsylvania since the passage of the 2009 Prescribed Burning Practices Act. Most burning, however, occurs on public lands while most rural lands in PA are privately owned, including 70% of forested lands. There exists a significant gap between the demand for burning on private lands and the actual acres being burned. Our research highlights high trust and low perception of risk among landowners regarding prescribed burning and a strong potential for burn consulting in PA. I’ll present some of our research findings and open the session for group discussion on the barriers to private lands burning in PA and opportunities to increase prescribed fire on private lands.


Panel Discussion Speakers

Dr. Craig Harper

Dr. Craig HarperCraig HarperCraig Harper is a Professor of Wildlife Management and the Extension Wildlife Specialist at the University of Tennessee. His primary responsibility is assisting natural resource professionals and landowners with issues concerning wildlife management. Dr. Harper’s Extension programming and research efforts have concentrated on applied wildlife management, especially as related to forest management, early succession management, prescribed fire effects, herbicide applications, quality deer management, and food plot management. he has conducted research on food plots, wildlife openings, and their use by wildlife since 1994. Craig earned an A.A.S. in Fish and Wildlife Management from Haywood Community College, a B.S. in Natural Resources Management from Western Carolina University, an M.S. in Biology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and a Ph.D. in Forest Resources from Clemson University.

Sam Lindblom

Sam LindblomSam Lindblom is the Director of Land Management and Fire Manager for the Virginia Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. His primary responsibilities include the management of 65 preserves and over 220 conservation easements across Virginia, as well as directing the implementation of the fire program aimed at the restoration of terrestrial forest habitats in both the southeastern coastal plain and central Appalachian Mountains. Additionally, Sam directs the Central Appalachians Fire Learning Network, and has served on the boards of the Association for Fire Ecology, Consortium of Appalachian Fire Managers and Scientists, and the Virginia Prescribed Fire Council. Sam actively maintains his fire qualifications as a burn boss, task force leader, and in aviation. Sam has a B.S. in Environmental Science from Auburn University.

Jack McGowan-Stinski

Jack McGowan-StinskiJack McGowan-Stinski is the Program Manager for the Lake States Fire Science Consortium funded by the Joint Fire Science Program and administered through The Ohio State University. Jack received a B.S. in Wildlife Biology from UW-Stevens Point, and a M.S. in Conservation Biology from Central Michigan University. Jack’s other professional experiences include Fire Manager and Land Steward for The Nature Conservancy, Consultant/ Contractor Burn Boss, and multiple seasonal positions with USFS and State DNRs.



Tom Gerber

Tom GerberTom Gerber is a New Jersey Forest Fire Section Fire Warden in Burlington County, NJ. Working at the interface of the Pine Barrens and South Jersey’s urban interface, Tom has over 40 years of experience managing wildland fire in throughout Pinelands and is directly responsible for management area of unbroken forests and communities totaling 100,000 acres. As a Section Firewarden, Tom is responsible for prescribed fire, wildfire response and law enforcement, fire prevention, and wildland fire fighter training. In this capacity has managed thousands of fires, including numerous large, high complexity wildfires and prescribed fires in New Jersey, and has participated in New Jersey’s mutual aid on fires in Florida to Alaska. Putting these experiences aside, Tom considers himself a lifelong student of natural ecology and of the rich experiences and observations that were passed down to him from his long lineage of land managers in his family. Tom is also an active member of the North Atlantic Fire Science Exchange as a Community Representative and is a partner of the Silas Little Experimental Forest, maintaining a 93-year research partnership in wildland fire science between the State of NJ and the US Forest Service.

Bob Bale

Bob BaleBob Bale is a NWCG-qualified burn boss who has led burns in numerous locations across Pennsylvania, in eleven other US states, and in The Bahamas. Bob has prescribed fire regime planning experience in restrictive settings in the Northeast as well as landscape-scale settings in Tanzania and The Bahamas. Since volunteering on his first burn in 1999, Bob has worked in prescribed fire management roles for government and non-profit conservation organizations, and presently serves as a Wildland Fire Specialist at Tall Timbers Research Station. Bob has a B.A. in Political Science from Penn State and a M.A. in Geography and Planning from West Chester University.


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