CO BHA Award Winners


16Steven_Choromanski-Muley.jpgSteven Chormanski (of Roxborough Village) is a BHA Life Member who was recognized for leading Colorado BHA’s push to get “smart rifles” and “life-action game camera’s” banned for use in Colorado by the Colorado Parks & Wildlife Commission.[2] In Steven’s words (to the CPW Commission), “The Colorado Chapter of the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers enthusiastically supports the two proposed regulations regarding the prohibitions on using Smart Rifle and Live Action Game Camera technologies for their use in hunting … We encourage you to approve these regulations, which will preserve the hunting traditions of Colorado, along with continuing the traditions of fair chase, woodsmanship and marksmanship.”[3] The Commission approved the bans during November 2015. Steven also prepared Colorado BHA’s comments in support of the Colorado Parks & Wildlife Commission’s proposed Fair Chase Policy, which was adopted during the Commission’s March 2016 meeting.

17P6060034-Antelope.JPGRick Seymour, of Silt, was recognized as BHA’s Volunteer of the Month (May 2016). Rick (who’s also a life member of BHA) singlehandedly coordinated the chapter’s participation in the Train to Hunt (TTH) Challenge that was held in Eagle, Colorado, June 18-19, 2016. He lined up multiple sponsors and donations for the event and was the point of contact for Colorado BHA’s involvement. Rick’s efforts were a whirlwind of nonstop action. Wild lands and wildlife need many more like him!


21-BHA-Awards-CGrother-ALeopold_Award-Mar13-BCJ-Summer13.jpgCraig Grother, of Norwood, was recognized as BHA’s Volunteer of the Month for January 2015. Craig is a volunteer Habitat Watchman for the Uncompahgre National Forest and has been instrumental in Colorado BHA’s efforts to protect wildlands and wildlife from OHV overuse and abuse. He was also the chapter’s point man on the Norwood Burn Canyon Travel Management Plan (TMP). Thanks, in great part, to Craig’s input and vigilance, this TMP protects high-quality big game habitat by decommissioning unnecessary motorized spur roads while also protecting undisturbed habitat from new motorized routes.

Colorado BHA received BHA’s George B. Grinnell (Chapter of the Year) Award. The Colorado BHA chapter (BHA’s first state chapter, founded by David “Elkheart” Petersen) was recognized at the BHA North American Rendezvous (in Spokane, Washington): “For outstanding group dedication and teamwork in grassroots, boots-on-the-ground conservation of America’s backcountry.”

“During the past year, the Colorado chapter worked tirelessly to ensure that policy relating to hunting, fishing and public lands protection represents BHA values,” said Land Tawney, BHA President and CEO. “Colorado BHA members spearheaded a successful effort to ban the use of drones for hunting, developed and successfully implemented guidelines for OHVs and helped enable conservation of more than 130,000 acres through designation of the Browns Canyon National Monument and passage of the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act. They exemplify the positive influence of which a BHA state chapter is capable—as well as the power of a committed group of individuals to effect good works in the name of sportsmen and conservation.”[1] For additional information see: Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Receives George B. Grinnell Award:

4-Paul_Vertrees-CO_Mule_Deer.jpg1Bill_Sustrich-Jul13.jpgBill Sustrich (of Salida) & Paul Vertrees (of Cañon City) were recognized for their unwavering commitment, spanning ten-plus years, to helping protect low-elevation big game habitat in the Browns Canyon area near Salida, which was designated a national monument in 2015. In Bill’s words: “In the simplest terms, without suitable habitat we will have no game; without game, we will have no hunting; without hunting, a precious heritage of our past will be lost forever.” Paul adds: “Over the years I’ve learned the tremendous potential these types of lower elevation wildernesses hold for the fish and wildlife, the local community, and the state of Colorado as a whole. As a Republican, I’ve also learned that conservation and conservatism do indeed go hand-in-hand … [It’s] what the local communities want. It’s what’s right for Colorado. And it’s most definitely what’s right for the land itself.” For additional information see: “Co. Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Recognize Members for Browns Canyon Contributions.” 6/9/15.


9Scott_Willoughbyweb.jpgScott Willoughby, of Denver, received BHA’s Ted Trueblood Award. This award recognizes a person working in the media world whose efforts have made significant contributions towards promoting BHA’s core values of protecting wildlands and habitat, responsible and scientifically-based wildlife management, and the values and benefits of backcountry hunting and fishing in a fair-chase manner. A reporter for The Denver Post, one of the largest newspapers in the West, Scott brought professionalism and fairness to his millions of readers who care about the outdoors, hunting and fishing. In an era of tight budgets and shrinking newsrooms, Scott worked in overdrive to keep citizens informed about natural resource issues.

10-DLien-Bull-Oct13.JPGDavid Lien, of Colorado Springs, was recognized by Field & Stream as a “Hero of Conservation.” Lien, a former Air Force officer, created BHA’s Habitat Watchmen program in 2009, which utilizes volunteers to find and eliminate threats to wildlife habitat. “We serve as the eyes and ears of our national forests and other public lands,” says Lien, who manages the program in Minnesota and Colorado, where volunteers have helped identify and protect high-value habitat for deer and elk, among other species. For additional information see: “David A. Lien Recognized by Field & Stream as ‘Hero of Conservation.’” 7/2/14.

11Dan_Parkinson_BHA_1-Fall_2014.jpgDan Parkinson, of Vallecito, was recognized as BHA’s Volunteer of the Month for August 2014. Dan, in addition to being Colorado BHA’s Southwest Regional Director, regularly volunteers to attend meetings, write/submit comments on public lands management, and actively engages on multiple conservation-related issues. Dan also served as BHA’s representative on the Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) Sportsmen Roundtable Advisory Group. For additional information see: “Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Add Shettel and Parkinson to Chapter Leadership.” 6/24/15.

8-Dan_Martel_-_BHA_Profile_Photo-Feb14.jpgDan Martel, of Lakewood, was recognized as BHA’s Volunteer of the Month for December 2014. Dan is a volunteer Habitat Watchmen for the Rio Grande National Forest and has a background in software development. Dan helped guide BHA through part of its website upgrade process and assisted with organizing the annual BHA-Colorado Parks & Wildlife “A Taste of Backcountry Angling Fishing Clinic.”


Craig Grother, of Norwood, received BHA’s Aldo Leopold Award. This award is presented by the national BHA Board and recognizes significant contributions towards preserving wildlife habitat. Craig is a Colorado BHA Habitat Watchman for the Uncompahgre National Forest, and a retired U.S. Forest Service (33 years of service!) wildlife biologist. Since joining BHA, Craig has spent countless hours working to protect public lands habitat from motorized overuse and abuse and other threats in the Norwood and Ouray Ranger Districts of the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests. For additional information see:

-“Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Recognize Two Conservationists.” Fly Rod and 3/25/13.

-“BHA’s Craig Grother & David Petersen Recognized For Protecting Backcountry Habitat.” 3/25/13.

8BHA-Awards-DPetersen-MB_Award-Mar13-BCJ-Summer13.jpgDavid “Elkheart” Petersen, of Durango, received BHA’s Mike Beagle (Chairman’s) Award. This award recognizes significant contributions to raising the visibility and/or growth of BHA.  David, a former U.S. Marine Corps helicopter pilot, founded the Colorado BHA chapter, served on the BHA board of directors, and has worked tirelessly to help promote and build BHA into the rapidly growing national hunter-angler conservation organization that it is today. For additional information see:

-“Guardian of the outdoors: David ‘Elkheart’ Petersen continues his efforts to keep backcountry area pristine.” The Denver Post: 6/12/13, p. 7B.

-“Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Recognize Two Conservationists.” Fly Rod and 3/25/13.

-“BHA’s Craig Grother & David Petersen Recognized For Protecting Backcountry Habitat.” 3/25/13.


18-Bob_Marion-CO_BHA_Rend-Jun11.jpgRobert “Bob” Marion, of Mancos, received BHA’s Aldo Leopold Award. This award is presented by the national BHA Board and recognizes significant contributions towards preserving wildlife habitat. Bob is a Colorado BHA Habitat Watchman for the San Juan National Forest (SJNF). Since joining BHA, Bob has worked diligently to protect big game habitat from motorized overuse and abuse in southwest Colorado’s SJNF.


Robert “Bob” Marion, of Mancos, was recognized for his ever-vigilant and ongoing work to protect the backcountry of southwest Colorado from dirt bikes and other off-road scofflaws. Bob is a Colorado BHA San Juan National Forest Habitat Watchman, and his tenacity and drive to protect his public lands “backyard” is second-to-none.

David “Elkheart” Petersen, of Durango, recognized for his unparalleled lifelong contributions to promoting ethical hunting and wildlands/wildlife conservation both in Colorado and nationwide. David is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and founder of Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (the first BHA state chapter). For additional information see:


Bill Sustrich, of Salida, recognized for leading Colorado BHA’s campaign to protect 22,000 acres of low-elevation big game habitat in the Browns Canyon area between Buena Vista and Salida as wilderness/a national monument. Bill (a U.S. Navy/WW II veteran) raised a family of four youngsters on deer, elk and trout he shot and caught in wild places like Browns Canyon, and has been one of Colorado’s staunchest advocates for its protection. In Bill’s words: “The fact is, nothing yet created by mankind can offer the degree of wildlife refuge as that provided by wilderness designation.”


Paul Vertrees, of Cañon City, recognized for a history of BHA activism, including attending multiple national forest resource/travel management meetings, writing letters-to-editors and op-eds supporting stronger enforcement of ATV/OHV laws and regulations, and generally working seemingly non-stop to protect public lands habitat from numerous threats. Paul is a U.S. Army veteran, fifth-generation Coloradan, traditional hunter and angler, Colorado BHA Habitat Watchman volunteer (for the Pike National Forest) and a father. In his words, “As a man raising a family, I value our wild and roadless backcountry, not only for myself and my family, but also for what it means for millions of other Colorado residents.”

Paul is also one of only a handful of certified professional Tenkara guides in the state of Colorado. His writing and photographs have appeared online on his personal blog, Tenkara Tracks, with guest articles for Tenkara USA, on Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, in the Backcountry Journal, and most recently in the book Tenkara Fly Fishing: Insights and Strategies, to which Paul was a contributing writer/angler. For additional information see:

Tom Sykes, of Cortez, recognized for his tireless, and at times courageous, work fighting to preserve wildlife habitat from growing assaults by ATVs/OHVs and dirt bikes in the San Juan National Forest (SJNF) region of southwest Colorado. Tom is a Habitat Watchman volunteer for the SJNF.


[1] Katie McKalip. “Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Honors Sportsmen Leaders, Raises Funds for Conservation at Annual Rendezvous.” BHA: 3/17/15.

[2] (a) “Smart rifle” means any precision-type guided firearm that is equipped with (i) a target tracking system, (ii) an electronically-controlled, electronically-assisted, or computer-linked trigger and/or (iii) a ballistics computer.

(b) “Live-action game camera” means any device capable of recording and transmitting photographic or video data wirelessly to a remote device, such as a computer or smart phone. “Live-action game camera” does not include game cameras that merely record photographic or video data and store such data for later use, as long as the device cannot transmit data wirelessly.

[3] Steven Choromanski. “Support for 2 Proposed Regulations.” Email: 11/14/15.