Wetlands at Horton named for Bowers

Friday, August 10, 2018
Henry Horton Park Ranger Ryan Jenkins, Gayle Bowers, TDEC Commissioner Shari Megrheblian, and Deputy Commissioners Brock Hill and Tisha Benton named the wetland area at the park in memory of Ronnie Bowers, the longtime TDEC employee who identified the potential for restoring the land to its natural state.
Tribune photo by Scott Pearson

One of the newest additions to Henry Horton State Park was named in memory of the man instrumental in creating it this past Friday.

Commissioner of the Department of Environment and Conservation Shari Meghreblian and Deputy Commissioners Brock Hill and Tisha Benton were on hand, along with a crowd of family, friend, and TDEC co-workers, to officially name the 65 acre wetland area at the park in memory of Ronnie Bowers.

“Look at this great crowd,” said Stacey Cothran, one of the Friends of Henry Horton State Park founders, “It warms my heart.”

The event was a bittersweet celebration. Cothran said that they had tried to hold the ceremony naming the wetland prior to Bowers’ passing, but were unable to outpace the pancreatic cancer, which he had battled for two years before it claimed him in June.

Bowers started his career at TDEC in 1983, ultimately serving as a special projects manager for the department, most notably restoring streams and wetlands across the state.

One of Bowers’ final projects was the reclamation of 65 acres along the Duck River in Henry Horton as natural wetland.

He saw that the land, which had been drained years ago for agriculture, could be restored to wetland, improving both wildlife habitat and water quality in the watershed in a single project.

Meghreblian and Hill were among those who spoke highly of the quality of Bowers’ character and of the impact of his work.

“This park will always be indebted to Ronnie,” said Park Ranger Ryan Jenkins, “as well as the thousands of people who drink from this river.”