Apalachicola Regional Stewardship Alliance (ARSA)
An ARSA Friend Remembered: Jack Stites (1953-2018)
By Brian Pelc, The Nature Conservancy
It’s hard to know where to start in listing the huge hole left by the recent death of Jack Stites. And even the most thorough inventory of his impacts, relationships, and ideas wouldn’t adequately capture his personality. Jack was equal parts modest, capable, smart, kind, doting, patient, and driven. Those that have known him will miss his music and amazing stories. Partners in the Apalachicola Regional Stewardship Alliance will miss his leadership on the fire line where he was often the face of The Nature Conservancy’s fire team. Hundreds of thousands of acres, from his days with TNC and before, were better burned because of him. He brought vision and expertise to groundcover restoration, and nearly a thousand new acres are brimming with sandhill creatures because of him. He was a teacher and brought dozens of professionals and friends into the world of prescribed fire, sandhill restoration, and land conservation at his Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve home. And this was personal work…Jack and his wife Annie were approaching the finish line on their 150-acre sandhill dream home, longleaf and wiregrass were already planted. It is so bitter to move on without his sage advice and warm company. It is so sweet to know that his legacy will continue in our acres of habitat. Jack would want us to focus on the latter sentiment, and we in ARSA encourage everyone that knew Jack to keep his memory alive in your high standards, creative solutions, and dedication despite obstacles. May he rest in peace but visit us often.
Jack Stites holding an indigo snake in advance of a release event in July 2017. Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve, Liberty County, Florida. Photo by B. Pelc.