SCDNR topic at Monday meeting of Sumter County Genealogical Society


John W. "Billy" Downer II will speak on the S.C. Department of Natural Resources and its history and role in the state at Monday's meeting of the Sumter County Genealogical Society. Now a captain, he has been with SCDNR for 21 years and is the state coordinator for Law Enforcement and Outreach.

The Sumter native and resident began his career as a waterfowl biologist and camp director for the S.C. Waterfowl Association and became a wildlife officer in 1997. He will present the history of SCDNR and discuss wildlife restoration programs, along with sharing what he describes as "surprising statistics on wood ducks, bears and other animals."

Downer will begin his presentation with an examination of the history of wildlife conservation in the state, which began in 1905 with the placement of game wardens in each county. Two years later, when the S.C. Audubon Society was incorporated as the precursor to the S.C. Wildlife Department, the wardens were brought under statewide coordination.

In 1910, the state's wildlife department was established to administer bird, game and non-migratory fish laws. Hunting license laws followed 15 years later, and the department continued to grow.

Downer's presentation will include more milestones in the evolution of SCDNR, its current activities and mission and its impact on wildlife, habitat protection, hunter education, youth education programs and more.

Capt. Downer is married to Kristi Downer of Sumter, and they have two children: Nathan, who graduated from Clemson University, and Cora Lee, a sophomore at Clemson.

Hear Downer's presentation on the SCDNR at 7:30 p.m. at Swan Lake Presbyterian Church, 912 Haynsworth St.

The society meets monthly from September through May. Visitors are encouraged to attend and if interested can join the society at the meeting. Admission is free to the public, and refreshments will be served following the presentation. Membership includes nine monthly newsletters during the year and free use of the Sumter County Genealogical Society Research Center. Annual dues are $30 for an individual membership and $35 for family. Call the society's research center for more information at (803) 774-3901.