Central West Slope Chapter Leaders

Craig Grother - Regional Director

6Craig_Grother-Camp.jpegCraig was born and raised in southern California and has lived in the western U.S. his entire life. “My parents took my brother and me camping in the mountains and beaches of California and Mexico,” he says. “My dad took us fishing in the lakes and streams of the Sierras, and fishing in the ocean off the coast of southern California and northern Mexico.”

Grandpa Otto, from Iowa, was Craig’s first hunting mentor. “My grandfather introduced me to pheasant hunting on his farm in Iowa at an early age as well, first as the assistant bird dog, and then as one of the hunters,” he said. “My biggest ocean-fishing mentor has been my nephew, Nick, and I continue to learn more about trout fishing from my buddy John here in Colorado.”

Craig has a BS in Wildlife Biology from Utah State University. He started working with the U.S. Forest Service soon after graduation, which led to a 33-year career as a wildlife biologist on ranger districts in Idaho, Nevada and Colorado. Craig worked the last 20 years of his career for the Norwood and Ouray Ranger Districts of the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests in Colorado. He retired in 2009.

Craig joined BHA in 2007 while attending a Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation convention in Reno, Nevada, and has served as a Habitat Watch Volunteer (HWV) for the Uncompahgre National Forest since 2009.[1]“I mostly hunt elk and deer on public lands, as well as turkey and grouse,” Craig adds. “I also fish for trout in Colorado and Idaho, and make the trip to Southeast Alaska to fish for salmon and halibut with my nephew off the Prince of Whales Island. I am fortunate to have a son-in-law from western Kansas and my chocolate lab, Ozzie, and I get to hunt pheasant on their farm around the Thanksgiving holiday.”

During 2013, Craig received one of BHA’s highest national awards, the Aldo Leopold Award, which recognizes significant contributions made towards preserving wildlife habitat.[2] During 2015, Craig was recognized as BHA’s Volunteer of the Month (for January), and was appointed by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to serve on the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area Advisory Council. He has been Colorado BHA’s Central West Slope Regional Director since January 2016.[3]

“I spend time giving back to the conservation of our fish and wildlife resources by teaching hunter education and as an active member of BHA,” Craig says. “Through BHA, I currently serve as the sportsman’s representative on the Colorado Forest Health Advisory Council and Adaptive Management Group for the Spruce Beetle Epidemic and Aspen Decline Management Response program on the GMUG National Forest.” Craig and his wife, Sheila, live in Norwood, Colorado.

Leslie Kaminski - Assistant Regional Director

Leslie was raised in Elyria, Ohio, where a love for the outdoors began at an early age while fishing Lake Erie from a family cottage on Nickle Plate Beach. Catching yellow perch and walleye from her dad’s wooden Lyman boat was not only a fond childhood memory, but started a lifelong passion for water, boats, fishing and fresh fried fish! Her Dad’s patient instruction with spinning reels and live bait also instilled in her the importance of mentorship in the outdoors.

Leslie_Kaminiski-Upland_Hunt.JPGA love of land and water led her to pursue a degree from Bowling Green State University in Geography and GIS with minors in Geology and Environmental Studies. After moving to the Rocky Mountains in 2009, she ended up in the North Fork Valley where her training in the earth sciences serves her well as a middle school science and math teacher. After ten years as an educator she truly enjoys inspiring sixth graders in Hotchkiss, Colorado, taking them on field trips whenever possible and leading an after school fly tying club.

Her love of angling continues to this day. Leslie enjoys fly-fishing for trout in rivers and lakes and catching the occasional pike. A recent six-day float trip on a Yukon tributary exposed her to the exciting wilderness in Alaska and new species like arctic grayling not to mention improving her skills on the oars.

Camping each night in view of eagle nests with moose sign in camp and bear tracks on the beach was an experience she will never forget. Also learning that grayling liked her secret hand tied ant pattern as much as Colorado cutthroat somehow brought the experience full circle. Experiencing the wild public lands of Alaska broadened her appreciation for the amazing resources we have in this country.

Although Leslie is a lifelong angler, hunting wasn’t an activity she was exposed to until earning her Hunter Education certificate in 2013. She fondly remembers being the only student in the class without a chaperone as well as the only one able to drive herself there. Even though she was now legal to hunt in Colorado, with no experience or mentor to teach her about hunting she didn’t know where to begin. Luckily, Colorado Parks and Wildlife hosts a women’s outreach program and she was invited on a mentored hunt for a doe pronghorn antelope.

After an exhilarating two days of chasing antelope in northwest Colorado, a shot from her .30-06 filled her first tag and changed her life forever. The experience not only ignited a passion for hunting and the harvest of her own wild game meat, but also gave her a deep appreciation for the importance of mentorship in our hunting community. She hunts elk every year in western Colorado and enjoys duck and goose hunting along with upland bird hunting in several western states.

Today Leslie is grateful to reside in Montrose, Colorado, with her boyfriend Dan and their two rowdy yellow labs. The time they spend together in the outdoors feed her obsessions for geology, wild game, wild fish and wild rivers. She is also grateful to Dan for introducing her to Backcountry Hunters & Anglers with a gift membership. She is proud to be a public landowner and help bring BHA’s message of public land awareness to her community and beyond.

Lew French - Assistant Regional Director 

Lew_French.jpgLew was born in Long Island, New York, and raised in West Newbury, Vermont. He attended college at the University of Vermont and completed a B.S. in Forestry (1969). Lew went on to serve in the U.S. Army at Fort Dix, New Jersey (1969-1970). Then, from 1970-72 he was assigned to the U.S. Army Signal Center and School, Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, where he worked as an Air Defense Radar Repairman and Instructor of Solid State Electronics, Specialist E-5.

Lew started a career with the U.S. Forest Service in 1972. Through 1977 he worked on the Black Hills National Forest, Harney Ranger District, doing timber sale preparation and administration and timber stand improvement through thinning. Then he relocated to Colorado and from 1977-1981 worked on the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forest, Ouray Ranger District, as a Forester and Certified Silviculturist.

From 1981-2003 he continued his GMUG work, which encompassed a wide array of duties/assignments, including (in part): recreation, minerals, wilderness, trails, outfitter/guides, Level 3 law enforcement, public information, strike team leader crew, dozer, helicopter manager in the fire organization, etc.

Lew lives in Montrose, Colorado, with his wife Bobbi. As of 2022 they have been married 50 years. He has been President of the Montrose Amateur Radio Club and currently serves as Activities Coordinator and Public Information Officer for the Club. He’s licensed as an Amateur Extra Class operator and is an Instructor of Technician and General Class amateur license training. He’s also a SKYWARN weather spotter for National Weather Service and Coordinator for the Montrose County Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service. In addition, he’s a Member Amateur Radio Emergency Service and American Radio Relay League.

Bob Shettel - CPW Liaison

Screen_Shot_2019-09-12_at_11.03.52_PM.pngAs an avid outdoorsman, experienced teacher and passionate backcountry enthusiast, Shettel brings a unique perspective to Colorado BHA. He’s a retired schoolteacher originally from western Pennsylvania who started fishing at 5 and deer hunting in his teens. Bob moved to Colorado in 1975, learned fly-fishing and has been an avid user of the local gold medal waters around the Roaring Fork Valley ever since.

Bob also holds four International Game Fish Association line class world records for California golden trout dating back to the 1980’s. He spends at least a week each year stomping around the Wind River Mountains in Wyoming in search of still bigger golden trout.