The Colorado chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) met in Gunnison (and nearby Almont) for their chapter’s first formal Strategic Planning Meeting (SPM) during the weekend of March 8-10, 2019. Lodging was in Almont at the Three Rivers Resort, where they also held a successful Public Lands Pint Night Friday evening and hosted a wild game cookout Saturday evening.
Meeting attendees included 17 Chapter Leadership Team (CLT) members (with 6 Executive Leadership Team/Board members in the group), Western Colorado University (WCU) club/chapter president, Jacob Simms, BHA Colorado and Wyoming Coordinator, Brien Webster, and local BHA member, Kevin Alexander (Friday morning), who is also a WCU professor and arranged for the use of a classroom at the college during the Saturday and Sunday planning sessions.
Prior to the SPM, chapter co-chair, Don Holmstrom, organized several planning calls/Zoom Meetings to lay the groundwork for this successful March meeting. During these calls, CLT member discussed and reviewed various strategic planning techniques and methods, including Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) Analysis using a facilitated Small Group Activity Method (SGAM).
Before the SPM, CLT members also reviewed the chapter’s organizational structure, which is a departure from the traditional Board-Committees (B-C) model. Instead, the chapter has adopted a more expansive and flexible Chapter Leadership Team-Regional Directors/Group Leaders (CLT-RD) model. This change stemmed from chapter co-chair, David Lien’s, years of experience serving on the National BHA Board and as a leader in both the Minnesota BHA and Colorado BHA chapters.
Prior to the start of their SPM, Don and David also worked with Brien Webster to developed a draft Strategic Plan Purpose Statement. The fundamental question they asked themselves was: “How do we use our strategic planning process, and the plan itself, to best Inspire, Empower and Inform (i.e., Motivate) our CLT and other Colorado BHA members?”
They noted that Colorado BHA members had already been Inspired to join BHA and (once they’re approved as CLT members) are Empowered (to lead/engage in Colorado BHA activities/events/issues). The piece that seemed to need the most work/refinement was arming the CLT with more education, training and guidance (Inform), including a list of Focus Areas and “Desired Outcomes.”
“It’s critical that CLT members are pursuing their ‘passion projects’ that fit within our mission,” BHA Colorado & Wyoming Chapter Coordinator, Brien Webster, said. “There is no one way to host a successful event, strengthen the chapter, or advance our mission.” Collectively Don, David and Brien proposed the following Purpose Statement: “Inspire, Empower and Inform (IE&I = Motivate) our members on how to more effectively help BHA protect and perpetuate our wild public lands, waters and wildlife.”
SPM Master Document
During the SPM, Chapter Leadership Team members discussed and identified a range of issues important to our mission, our chapter, and to individual chapter members. We then guided discussions around these issues and developed desired outcomes, strategies and tactics to support our engagement on these issues in 2019 and beyond. Some of the broad guidelines addressed in our chapter’s SPM Master Document included:
1. “It is very important to note, that as a CLT member you are encouraged to advance our mission and pursue issues that you are passionate about. The Strategic Plan issues may not be as important to you as other issues within our mission and that is just fine. There are many important issues that we need to work on, and your efforts, no matter the issue, are greatly appreciated and important.”
2. “It’s also important to note, that by no means are the desired outcomes, strategies, or tactics to be viewed as deliverables that CLT members will be accountable for. All of this is intended to help support the great work that you are already doing and to identify opportunities and illicit ideas that will help us to advance our mission on a particular subset of issues and more broadly by identifying strategies and tactics that will be helpful more generally.”
After the all-day planning session on Saturday at WCU (in Gunnison), the group adjourned to the Three Rivers Resort in Almont for a wild game feed that included a smorgasbord of elk carnitas, elk chili, elk tamale pie, elk posole, buffalo burger, venison gravlax, eggplant casserole and moose pot roast, not to mention plenty of quality craft beer. The planning team reassembled Sunday morning to begin the process of drafting Focus Areas and related strategies and tactics to help the chapter become even more effective at advocating for wildlands and wildlife.
“As always, I learn of ton from, and am inspired by these sportsmen and women conservationists,” chapter Sponsor-Events Coordinator, Russell Bassett, said after the planning session. “This time I learned about three new places to fish in the mountains and two in the eastern plains to duck hunt. Best dang resource of knowledge around for what I love to do. The wild game feast, as always, was spectacular. These guys take their culinary skills as seriously as they do their backcountry ones. Most importantly, love the passion and expertise for giving back to the habitat and public access that enable the sport.”
“I think all the Chapter Leadership Team and other members who were able to join us would agree that this was an extremely productive planning session and we’ll likely, assuming the Executive Leadership Team is agreeable, make it a yearly session going forward,” chapter co-chair, Don Holmstrom, added. “The breadth and depth of selflessness and commitment hard-wired into BHA members was on full display during our Strategic Planning Meeting,” co-chair, David Lien said. “We need many more like them!”
“All of us are smarter than any of us”
“When we all do a little, we accomplish a lot”
Founded by Mike Beagle, a former U.S. Army field artillery officer, and formed around an Oregon campfire, in 2004, BHA is the sportsmen’s voice for our nation’s wild public lands, waters and wildlife. With over 30,000 members spread out across all 50 states and 13 Canadian provinces and territories, including chapters in 39 states and two international chapters—in Alberta and British Columbia—BHA brings an authentic, informed, boots-on-the-ground voice to the conservation of public lands. Since the Colorado BHA chapter was founded by David Petersen (a former U.S. Marine Corps helicopter pilot) in 2005 (the first official BHA chapter), they’ve grown their boots-on-the-ground presence to over 2,500 dedicated hunters and anglers.