Army National Guard veteran Matt Lee was named Armed Forces Initiative (AFI) Liaison for the Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers AFI Club. Matt was born in Iowa and raised in both Iowa and Minnesota. Matt is an avid outdoorsman and mentor. His preferred pursuits are upland hunting, fishing, hunting deer, learning to hunt elk, and outdoor photography.
His affection for outdoor spaces was first sparked early in his childhood while fishing for bullheads with his grandpa. Soon after he was taken on a family vacation to Colorado where he fell in love with the mountains and the vast opportunities North America has to offer. At age 9 Matt was taken along on his first pheasant hunt and he was instantly hooked on those cagey birds.
He spent his teen years fishing through the summer and chasing roosters in the fall. Along with a few backpacking trips and an influential trip to the BWCAW, that spark in him turned into a fire and it continues to burn to this day. These days Matt will hunt or fish for just about anything. “What I enjoy most is being out and participating in nature and sharing the outdoors with friends,” he added.
He spent 10 years serving in the Minnesota National Guard as an artilleryman. Matt has also been a member of several outdoor conservation groups over the years. But in 2015 he learned about Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and the public lands access mission we fight for, this message spoke to him and resonated with his experiences as a public land hunter.
After becoming a life member and volunteering for numerous BHA events, in 2018 he was asked to join the MN BHA board, in 2019 he was elected to a vice-chair role, and in 2020 he volunteered to serve as the interim board chair position and then was elected to be the chair where he served until leaving MN for CO. “In 2022 I moved to Colorado with my amazing wife and our dog,” he explained. “I am now currently serving the Colorado BHA chapter in the Armed Forces Initiative Liaison role.”
Matt believes that access to the outdoors is an integral part of the American experience. In order to accomplish our goal to maintain that access the American people must compel our legislators to keep public land in trust for all citizens and ensure that our land is respected, well maintained, and preserved for future generations “Without access to public lands I would not be the person I am today,” Matt said.
In his new role he is working with veterans and active-duty military members, helping to facilitate their hunting and fishing opportunities. Giving back to the military community is a driving force in Matt’s life, the foundation of his dedication and selflessness. “I want to give back to those who have given so much to protect our access to hunting, fishing, and freedom,” he said.
“I first met Matt while serving on the Minnesota BHA Board,” Colorado BHA Co-Chair David Lien (a former Air Force officer) said. “He’s a natural leader and uniquely qualified to introduce
veterans to hunting, angling and conservation. Wildlands and wildlife need many more like him!” Matt lives in Lakewood, Colorado, and works as a commercial pilot transporting cargo and people all over the world.
Additional/Related Information -Check out the Colorado AFI Instagram page @colorado_bha_afi or contact them at [email protected] -“AFI in the News.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 4/24/23. -Trevor Hubbs. “What is the AFI.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 3/3/23.
-“Giving Veterans a New Mission in Conservation”
-“Public lands = Freedom”
-“AFI has 11,500 members in 50 states and 34 active-duty installations. AFI membership has increased by 500% over the past two years.”1
-“BHA Members Serve Their Country: 20% of BHA Members Are Active Duty Military or Veterans. More Than Twice The U.S. Average.”2 -Become An AFI Volunteer; Armed Forces Initiative Leadership. -BHA’s Armed Forces Initiative. “Armed Forces Initiative-Get Involved.”