The Colorado chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) had another great year! For starters, we significantly increased our boots-on-the-ground presence, adding hundreds of dedicated hunters and anglers to our rapidly growing team of conservationists. We held or participated in events all over the state, grew our Habitat Watch Volunteer (HWV) program and expanded the Chapter Leadership Team (CLT), all of which mirror BHA’s rapid growth trajectory and increasing effectiveness across the country and North American continent.
During the first half of 2019, we held our first formal CLT strategic planning session (in March), organized or participated in 40 activities and events across the state, added 11 leaders to the CLT, expanded the HWV program with 11 new volunteers, and held our 11th annual Colorado BHA Rendezvous. For additional information see: “Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Mid-Year-Report/Update: June 2019.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 7/1/19.
During the second half of 2019, we kept the pedal down and—despite hunting season(s) becoming our primary focus—organized or participated in another 22 activities and events, bringing the tally for the year up to 60-plus!! This yearlong whirlwind of Colorado BHA events/activities helped us recruit nearly 500 new members and shot our total membership up to over 2,900 hunter-angler-conservationists.
“A tip of the hat to the California (659), Michigan (592) and Colorado (494) chapters for helping bring-in the largest net increase of dues paying members in 2019!” Tim Brass, BHA State Policy & Field Operations Director, said. “Thanks to efforts by many of you, we busted the 40,000 member mark continue to grow faster than any other conservation organization in North American!”
Colorado BHA was also recognized as BHA’s Chapter of the Month for July 2019. Then, Southeast Regional Director, Ty Woodward, was recognized as BHA’s Member of the Month for August 2019. Not to be outdone, the Western Colorado University (WCU) BHA Club was recognized as College Club of the Month for October 2019.
At the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers 8th Annual North American Rendezvous in Boise (during May), chapter co-chair David Lien received BHA’s Mike Beagle-Chairman’s Award, which is bestowed to an individual who shows outstanding effort on behalf of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. The award is named after Beagle, a former U.S. Army field artillery officer, who started BHA with the “Gang of Seven” around an Oregon campfire in 2004.
As of December 31, the Colorado BHA Chapter Leadership Team has grown to 38 members. Leaders who came onboard during the second half of 2019 include: Chris Jones, Assistant Regional Director for southwest Colorado; Becca Fowler, Assistant Regional Director for Mesa County; Brad Athmer, Southeast Colorado Events Director/Coordinator; Kassi Smith, Assistant Regional Director for the Denver Metro Area; Lauren Jaebker, Assistant Regional Director for Northern Colorado.
Liz Rose joined the CLT as Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) State Trust Lands Liaison; Kyle Vistuba, Membership Recruitment Coordinator for the Southeast Group; Drew Trujillo, the Southeast Group’s Sponsorship and Media Coordinator; Elena Reynolds, Assistant Regional Director for the Central Rockies Group; and Leslie Kaminski, Assistant Regional Director for the Central West Slope Group. We also added to our Habitat Watch Volunteers. Jonny Cordes volunteered as a HWV for the San Juan National Forest.
In addition, we have four Chapter Leadership Team members serving as Statewide Delegates on the CPW Sportsmen’s Roundtable. CLT members Adam Gall and Ryan McSparran were selected to serve as Roundtable Statewide Delegates during 2018. More recently, during July 2019, CLT member Cody Doig and Liz Rose were appointed as a Statewide Delegates. Colorado BHAer Mark Scofield is also a Statewide Delegate while Kevin Alexander and Drew Perez are Regional Caucus Delegates.
Last but not by a long shot least, Colorado BHA was recognized in the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers 2019 Policy Roundup, “State Accomplishments” section. As stated there: “Years of hard work by BHA was recently rewarded in Colorado when the state approved the expansion of public recreational access on 500,000 acres of state trust lands that were previously closed to public use, with 100,000 acres opened immediately to the public in 2019.”
Colorado BHA was the first Backcountry Hunters & Anglers state chapter, founded in 2005. “During July 2006, I accepted an offer from Colorado BHA founder David Petersen to become his chapter co-chair, when Colorado was the only BHA state chapter in the country,” said chapter co-chair, David Lien (a former U.S. Air Force officer). “We had 50 members at the end of that year. Now, we have almost as many Chapter Leadership Team members and nearly 3,000 boots-on-the-ground members!”
“BHA’s growth in Colorado and across the North American continent has been nothing short of astounding,” David added. “I’ve been told many times over the years that BHA would never make it because we weren’t doing what other sportsmen’s groups were doing and/or we weren’t catering to a specific political demographic. It turns out that’s exactly why we’ve been so successful.”
During 2019, BHA added eight new chapters: in Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Tennessee and the Yukon. There are now chapters in 45 states, two Canadian provinces, one Canadian territory and the District of Columbia. BHA membership grew to a remarkable 40,000, with members in every U.S. state, Canadian province and territory.
“Our ultimate goal is to inspire, empower and inform our boots-on-the-ground members to help them do whatever it is they want to do within the broad parameters of BHA’s wildlands and wildlife protection mission,” David says. “What started around a campfire in 2004 with Mike Beagle and the Gang of Seven has grown into a forest fire! And in the words of BHA President and CEO, Land Tawney: ‘The best ideas come from around a campfire.’”
“When game animals were scarce or absent … hunters … stepped forward as conservationists … When it came time to protect the fading wilderness, the idea for its preservation found its birth around the hunter’s fire.” –Jim Posewitz, Inherit The Hunt
For additional Colorado BHA and related information see:
-“Backcountry Hunters & Anglers 2019 Policy Roundup.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 12/23/19.
-Katie McKalip. “BHA Wins Highest Ratings from NGO Watchdogs: Charity Navigator, Great Nonprofits and GuideStar all award BHA top honors.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 12/11/19.
-“Western Colorado University BHA Collegiate Club Recognized.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 12/11/19.
-“BHA Members Reject Political Labels, Unite Around Conservation.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 10/3/19.
-“Fall 2019 Colorado Chapter News.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 9/16/19.
-“Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Regional Director Recognized as BHA’s Member of the Month.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 9/3/19.
-“Colorado BHA Chapter Leaders Serving on Sportsmen’s Roundtable.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 8/23/19.
-“Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Team Up With Veterans For Campfire Stories.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 8/13/19.
-“Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Recognized as BHA’s Chapter of the Month.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 8/5/19.
-“Summer 2019 Colorado Chapter News.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 7/31/19.
-“Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Mid-Year Report/Update: June 2019.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 7/1/19.
-“Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers 11th Annual Rendezvous Recap.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 6/17/19.
-“Colorado BHA Southwest Regional Director Promotes/Defends Bighorn Sheep & Wilderness.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 5/28/19.
-Katie McKalip. “BHA Bestows Top Honors at Rendezvous: Hunters, anglers recognized for contributions to North America’s public lands, waters, wildlife.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 5/21/19.
-“Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Holding Pint Nights/Events Across The State.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 5/20/19.
-“Your Backcountry: San Juan Wilderness.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 4/22/19.
-“Colorado BHA Holds First Formal Strategic Planning Meeting.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 3/19/19.
-David Petersen (founder of the first BHA chapter, here in Colorado, and a former U.S. Marine Corps helicopter pilot) books: www.davidpetersenbooks.com
Founded by Mike Beagle, a former U.S. Army field artillery officer, and formed around an Oregon campfire, in 2004, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is the voice for our nation’s wild public lands, waters and wildlife. With over 40,000 members spread out across all 50 states and 13 Canadian provinces and territories—including chapters in 45 states, two Canadian provinces and one territory, and Washington, D.C.—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 some 3,000 dedicated hunters and anglers.
 Tim Brass, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers State Policy & Field Operations Director. “Chapter Leaders: What’s New in 2020.” Backcountry Hunters & A: 1/10/20.
 March 21-22, 2004—Campfire at Mike Beagle’s house in the southern Cascade foothills of Eagle Point, OR. Oregon hunters Dick Hentze, Tim Lillebo, James Monteith, Tony Heckard, Michelle Halle, Mike Beagle and Brian Maguire all met to discuss forming a new conservation organization built around the public land backcountry hunting and angling experience. Out of this two-day meeting, BHA was formed.
 Rob Drieslein. “A Q&Q with Backcountry Hunters & Anglers’ Land Tawney.” Outdoor News: 1/12/18, p. 8.
 Jim Posewitz. Inherit The Hunt. Guilford, Connecticut: The Globe Pequot Press, 1999, p. 104.