Question & Answer with Backcountry Hunters & Anglers' Director, Land Tawney

land-discussion2We recently gave our facebook fans an opportunity to ask BHA’s Executive Director, Land Tawney anything they wanted to know about BHA.  The following is a summary of that live question and answer event.  Stay tuned for future Q&A events on our Facebook Page.  In the meantime, if you have questions about BHA, please ask them anytime using the comment box below.



Question from Russell Bassett


You'all going to take a pass a climate change or are you going to try make a difference to curb what could very well be the biggest issue affecting fishing and hunting opportunity?


Answer from Land Tawney


Russell, thanks for the question. We are actually working on a policy statement as we speak. It will be similar to other national hunting and fishing orgs like Boone and CrockettDucks UnlimitedPheasants Forever and Trout Unlimited. Stay tuned...

Question from Terry Meyers

What is BHA doing to benefit bighorn sheep?

Answer from Land Tawney

Thanks Terry, we are working on many place based campaigns to help protect big horn sheep habitat. A perfect example of that is our work to conserve essential habitat on Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front. As you well know, big horn sheep need big country, and that’s what BHA is all about promoting and protecting. That’s just one example but our work ranges from Alaska, to British Columbia, to Wyoming.

Question from J.R. Young

Having seen BHA end up in more places and in more conversations over the past couple of years, what is the next step of growth for BHA?

Answer from Land Tawney

Thanks JR. BHA is experiencing exponential growth. We have an energy about us that you just can't manufacture. I think it’s due to the desire for solitude, challenge, and the experience only the backcountry provides. Our chapter system is expanding rapidly so I see us having an impact in many more states and provinces, where we will work to protect and promote the backcountry from a local, and regional level. This means great things for habitat and access. We are becoming a force from the local level, out to Washington DC. This will only grow as we increase in size. Whether we’re curbing illegal ATV useprotecting special places, or promoting access and opportunity, we will help carry on the legacy Roosevelt and others set into motion.  In addition, BHA is becoming the leader in teaching backcountry skills.  As more and more people are attracted to the deep woods, they need the necessary skills to have a productive and safe time out there. Look forward to more of our online Backcountry College series. I could talk all day about where we could go as opportunities are endless. 

Question from Brian Jennings

Love the life member incentives with Kimber! Might there be other incentives as growth continues to spike?

Answer from Land Tawney

We are lucky to have such great corporate partners. The Kimber life member promotion is just one example. Partnering with Seek OutsideMystery Ranch BackpacksKifaruFirst LiteUnder Armor...the list continues to grow.

Question from Randy Gray

What do you think is unique about BHA (e.g. how do we differ from all the other conservation organizations)?

Answer from Land Tawney

Thanks Randy. It’s our sole focus on the conservation and promotion of backcountry. The skills, determination, and state of mind it takes to be out in the deep woods is unique. Of course that means different things if you are back east vs. Colorado vs. Alaska. Sure there are other groups that work on the same issues we do, but they have much bigger portfolios that pull them in different directions. We have a great niche. Lastly, we pride ourselves on our boots on the ground knowledge. This doesn't come with one trip into said spot, but years of adventure and tradition. Those on the ground stories carry the day with Fish and Game Agencies; state elected officials; DC administrative brass; and Congress. Our stories resonate.

Question from Chasse Julien

For memberships and donations, what percentage of every dollar goes towards the mission?

Answer from Land Tawney

Great question, Chasse – we are different from other groups as we focus on education, advocacy and on the ground restoration projects. We aren't like Ducks Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, etc. who put direct dollars on the ground to protect habitat...but instead we try to be a strong voice at all levels. Broad policies make sweeping changes and we want to make sure our wild public lands, waters, and wildlife have a voice. We work with many national groups on these efforts but this is our sole purpose. In addition, we focus strictly on public lands. So all that said, I would say between 85-90% is used on programs, the rest goes to administration.

Question from Matthew Koehler

Hello: I’m a backcountry hunter, Montanan & former member of Hellgate Hunters & Anglers. Land, I appreciate you bringing up the MT’s Rocky Mtn Front, as I spend a lot of time up there. I 100% support protecting the Front and all of the remaining roadless areas; however, I have real, substantive concerns about some parts of the Rocky Mtn Front Heritage Act as written. Here they are, if you care to respond or if anyone's interested:

I also appreciate you bringing up the backcountry so much. As a backcountry hunter, I’d like to see more protection of our roadless areas, either in Wilderness or non-motorized National Recreation Areas.

Unfortunately, just this week it’s been revealed that Montana’s Governor hand-picked 6 people, and they met on the phone 5 times and come up with 5.1 million acres of public National Forest land in Montana that they have nominated for priority logging under a weakened environmental process and less public input that was part of the '14 Farm Bill. 

The Governor’s office admits there was no public process and no notes of these 5 calls were even taken. What’s BHA’s opinion of Governor Bullock’s 5.1 million acre proposal and the exclusive, non-transparent process used to create it? 

I looked over the maps Governor Bullock provided, and it includes a surprising amount of my prime elk-hunting grounds and some very good, existing habitat and wild land forests for all kinds of critters. Thanks for your response.

Answer from Land Tawney

Matthew, thank you for the question. Not everything is perfect but I'm happy to talk to off line about your problems with the RMF Heritage Act and what Governor Bullock is up to.

Question from Gary Jones

Based on a cursory review of your website, I am under the impression that your organization promotes wilderness rather than backcountry. Is this a fair conclusion? What is your position on non-motorized, wheeled vehicle (i.e., mountainbikes, fat bikes, etc...) in the backcountry?

Answer from Land Tawney

Gary, wilderness is just one designation among many that protect the backcountry. We support responsible Off Highway Vehicle use and have a reward program that is the only one in the country I know of that goes after abusers. I'd say this is true for non-motorized vehicles as well. They have a place on the landscape and as long as they are used responsibly we would support their use. Like all things, it’s not quite black and white.

Question from Chasse Julien

As BHA continues to grow do you foresee any type of state or regional fundraisers like the RMEF Banquets?

Answer from Land Tawney

Chasse, we have already started. This is our ten year anniversary and we are capitalizing on that with fundraisers around the country. These won’t be the fundraisers we are all used to – sit down banquets, same food, auction items – rather we are putting the FUN back into fundraising. We have teamed up with the Hunting Film Tour to do cine events – our first was in Bend, OR and it was a smashing success – good times, good films, and money raised for a good cause. In addition we are doing smaller events we are dubbing “Hunter-Angler Happy Hours.” In Montana alone we have tripled our membership with these smaller personal events. Word of mouth is how we have grown and this still is our best strategy. We post event announcements up on our Facebook page so stay tuned...tomorrow night we have one in Spokane, WA.

A closing message from Land Tawney

Thanks for all who participated whether that was by asking questions or just observing. As I said at the start, this is new to us but something we want to do more of. Stay tuned for more opportunities to interact with us here at BHA and for those of you hunting bears and turkey's...good luck. For those of you wetting a line, I hope the rivers hold a couple more weeks before they turn to chocolate milk! Enjoy the wilds! Onward and Upward, Land.

Have other Questions for Land?  Ask them using the comment box below.

About Caitlin Thompson