Montana Chapter Board

 

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John B. Sullivan III, Board Chair

John has been working in the outdoor/hunting/fishing industry since he was 16, starting as an assistant (more like a pack mule dropping off equipment at various locations) for a fly fishing outfitter in the Swan Valley. While attending The University of Montana for degrees in Resource Conservation and Economics, he worked at a local hunting shop and was a river guide leading multi-day wilderness trips out of West Glacier in the summers. After graduating, he moved to southeast Alaska to help develop new fly fishing channels of business for various salmon fishing lodges.

He began to miss Montana too much, so he returned to Missoula and is active in Montana's hunting and fishing communities. John has firsthand experience watching smart policy protect and improve habitat, wildlife populations and opportunities for hunting and fishing. He is passionate about protecting backcountry, restoring degraded habitat and working with the state and private landowners to improve access.


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Tom Healy, Board Vice Chair

Tom grew up in Iowa City and was introduced to bird hunting while cutting class with his high school principal’s son. Soon after guiding his first trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, he bought a solo canoe and explored the Quetico-Superior Region at every opportunity. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point with a degree in biology, Tom served as the Executive Director of Camp Olson YMCA for five years. In 1997 he became a founding board member and Co-Executive Director of North House Folk School in Grand Marais, Minnesota; he frequently travels back to teach classes and harvest wild rice.

With his wife Meagen and a pack of bird dogs, Tom moved to northwest Montana in 2002 to start a Nordic ski lodge with friends. He continues to work as a timber frame teacher, designer and builder, and is committed to sharing his passion for conservation and wild places. As an ardent big game and bird hunter, Tom frequently cannot be found in the forests, prairies and rimrock country of our nation’s public lands.

 

 


Lou_Bahin.pngLou Bahin, Board Treasurer/Secretary

Lou is a lifetime- and legacy-member of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers who spends much of his time exploring Montana's wild places on foot and bicycle. One of his favorite activities is backpacking to secluded fishing holes or traversing public lands along the continental divide on two wheels.

Lou recently retired from a career in the publishing and software industries, and lives in Missoula with his wife, Lila, and two sons. He spends his time in the front country experimenting with wild game recipes, coddling two dogs, and when summer comes to Montana, tending bees and a rapidly expanding garden.

Returning to Montana from several years in Washington D.C. and Chicago has only increased Lou's passion to explore the outdoors and kindled a desire to pass along the backcountry experiences we cherish to future generations.



Dane Rider, Montana Chapter Federal Policy Leader

Dane was born in Bozeman then spent much of his childhood and post-college years bouncing around the Heartland, New England and the Gulf Coast of Florida. During this time, one constant remained: he must return to Montana. In 2015 the opportunity presented itself and Dane seized the opportunity, jumping in with both feet. The biggest draw for Dane had been the blue-ribbon trout streams of Montana, recalling childhood trips back to the Boulder River and float trips on the Big Hole and Yellowstone; but as an adult the greatest appeal became the large swaths of public lands in which he could chase elk, mule deer and mountain grouse. After discovering that the access to and use of our public lands and waters was threatened, Dane became active in advocating for these wild places. He became a BHA life member in 2016.

When Dane is not talking with people about the benefits of the public estate, he can be found making the most of the varied environments that Montana has to offer. You can often find him searching for an alpine lake full of uneducated trout, or foraging for mushrooms, berries and other wild edibles. Dane is at home in the mountains and will continue to fight to make sure these lands, waters and wildlife are here for generations to come.


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Graham Coppes, Montana Chapter Conservation Leader

Graham grew up in the flatlands of the Midwest, without public lands or topography of interest. At 18, Graham moved to Missoula to pursue environmental journalism at the University of Montana. He spent the next decade guiding fly fishing trips in the Bob Marshall and Great Bear Wilderness areas. During the winters, Graham traveled extensively through the wild places of the world, exploring remote corners of the Himalays, Alps, Southeast Asia, New Zealand, and the Indo-Pacific, both high above sea level and below. In turn, these many nights spent under the stars revealed a new path. After receiving his Master’s in environmental studies at the University of Denver, Graham returned to UofM to pursue a natural resource law degree. While in law school Graham served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Public Land and Resources Law Review and extensively studied both the federal and state laws which guide resource management decisions.

After graduating, Graham married his beautiful wife Madison and settled back into life in Missoula where he now works for a small law firm specializing in water rights. In the warmer months, Graham can be found pursuing the next great river trip and stalking wild trout on the fly. Through his wife’s family Graham learned the upland tradition and has now added a new addiction and a new dog to the pack. And when the water freezes, Graham yearns to explore snowy silence on skis and spends his free time climbing and skiing the remote wilderness that defines the Northern Rockies in winter.


trb.jpgThomas Baumeister, Montana Chapter Capital Leader

Born and raised in Germany, Thomas fell in love with the great American outdoors early in his life. So much in fact that he left his home country and moved to the Rocky Mountain West for good. He became a wildlife biologist and worked for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks for two decades. While serving as conservation education bureau chief for FWP, Thomas facilitated the establishment of Montana WILD, wrote the state’s hunter education manual and chaired the committee for the International Hunter Education Association to establish U.S. hunter education standards, and worked on many fish and wildlife issues.

These days Thomas champions our outdoor heritage via non-profits and business. Thomas is the founding member of the Montana Outdoor Hall of Fame and serves on the board of Orion—The Hunter’s Institute, as well as Helena Hunters and Anglers. He founded the company Access WILD to provide backcountry adventures in the heart of Yellowstone National Park and other wild places using a fleet of hearty pack llamas.

Thomas holds two masters and a Ph.D. in Biology and Wildlife Biology from Universities in Germany and Montana. As faculty associate at Carroll College and Arizona State University, he teaches various courses on the science, ethics and practice of the human-nature connection and the notion of wildness. He lives in Helena with his wife and two teenagers, loves to hunt and fish all things wild and believes that America’s - and especially Montana’s - wild and public outdoor heritage is second to none.

 


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Molly VandeVoort, Flathead Valley Board Member

Molly and her husband Alex reside in Northwest Montana where she is continually surprised to find that the further east she goes, the more “western” it seems. Prior to moving to the Flathead in 2016, she grew up in the Willamette Valley and high-desert of Oregon and spent her twenties working and playing in Washington, Alaska and Colorado. Molly has worked and volunteered in the outdoors and conservation since her teens - 226 river miles in the Grand Canyon at age 13 will wreck a girl for life. It’s the memories of her youth in the wilderness that is the lens through which she views public health issues now that her epidemiological training has landed her in a desk job.

Growing up in a hunting and angling family exposed Molly to wild food and wild places, though she took up hunting and fishing as an adult. BHA connects Molly to likeminded folks and keeps her abreast of the issues that she cares about the most.

 

 


trb.jpgScott Mylnechuk, Missoula Valley Board Member

From climbing most of Central Oregon’s peaks to chasing trout in the rivers below, Scott grew up exploring all that the PNW has to offer. His mother is a 4th generation Montanan out of Anaconda where many of the family’s clan resides. Scott was born and raised in Oregon, but his family spent countless hours road-tripping back to Montana to visit and vacation.

In 2003, Scott began college at the University of Montana where he spent most of his free time chasing trout in the Blackfoot and wading into hidden holes up Rock Creek. He now co-owns a business that ensures federal contractors are kept in compliance.

From 2018-2020, Scott served on the board of The WestSlope Chapter of Trout Unlimited where he held a handful of roles and duties. Scott is a life member of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and is passionate about keeping public lands public and improving hunting and fishing access. Scott and his wife, Libby, along with their two bird dogs, will welcome their first kiddo to the family in March of '21. In the fall he likes to hunt big game with his recurve but is transitioning to a compound bow for “practical purposes.” The Smith and the South Fork of the Flathead Rivers are the his most memorable multiday floats, and he jumps at any chance to take friends on his raft.

 

 

 

 

 


trb.jpgDoug Krings, Central Montana Board Member

Born and raised in central Montana, Doug's travels around the country were enough to convince him that Montana truly is the Last Best Place. He lives in Lewistown with his family, and when he's not chasing elk with his stick bow he works for a structural steel fabricator.

For the last 15 or so years, when not hunting, Doug has volunteered with conservation organizations dedicated to preserving our outdoor heritage and protecting traditional uses. Specifically, his work has focused on public access to great elk habitat in central & eastern Montana. Doug is a former board member of the Traditional Bowhunters of Montana, Montana Bowhunters Association and a handful of FWP Committees. He's also currently on the board of the Lewistown Bowhunters Association and Central Montana Outdoors. Recently, Doug and his daughter, Emma, were featured on The Durfees, a film by Mission: Montana


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Scott Desena, Southwest Montana Board Member

Scott's journey to Montana began on the east coast where he cut his teeth fishing farm ponds in the Hudson Valley, exploring the Adirondacks and skiing the Catskill Mountains. It was the latter that brought him west where he eventually moved in 1993, but it was a combination of mountain biking, backpacking, rock climbing, adult onset hunting and his greatest passion - fly fishing - that kept him here. His greatest catch, however, was a Butte girl who brought him to Montana in 2012. That Butte girl is now his wife and he and Shawna have three beautiful children.

Scott's greatest joys in life are sharing his passions in the outdoors with his family. Whether it’s chasing upland birds with their Brittany, hunting big/small game, backpacking or fly fishing, it's all made possible by public lands and waters, and all seems better with family. When he's not on the river or in the mountains, Scott works as a heavy equipment operator for a contractor in Butte focusing on reclamation in the Butte/Anaconda area.

 

 


trb.jpgChris McCarthy, Gallatin Board Member

Chris grew up on Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front, where he learned the value of public land from his father, a Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist based out of Augusta. He has vivid memories of being out on public lands with his father, marveling at the fact that he could just go there to hunt. It took him a while to fully realize that they weren’t trespassing; these were their lands, our lands.

A recent empty-nester, Chris lives with his wife Danielle in Belgrade and is part owner of Outside Media Group, publishers of Outside Bozeman magazine. When not working you will likely find Chris, of course, on public lands and waters where he enjoys hunting, fishing, skiing, trail running, mountain biking and not taking himself too seriously.

 

 

 

 


trb.jpgJake Schwaller, Eastern Montana Board Member

A 4th generation Montanan, Jake was born in Bozeman, raised in East Helena and now calls Billings home. His father started taking him to elk camp when he was 7 years old, where he learned about public lands and wildlife around a campfire. Over the years, Jake earned the title of “designated elk dragger.” He later turned his love of the outdoors into a master’s in environmental literary theory and a law degree. In graduate school at the University of Idaho, Jake served as an editor for ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies of Literature and Environment, and in law school at the University of Montana, Jake served as an editor for the Public Land and Resources Law Review.

Through graduate school, Jake spent seven summers battling thirty-foot tides and sleep deprivation as a commercial salmon fisherman in Bristol Bay, AK. Steeped in the Pebble Mine controversy, Jake learned about the value of joining conservation organizations and making one’s voice heard by policymakers. He joined BHA in 2015 and is excited to now serve on the Montana BHA board as an advocate for Montana’s public lands, waters and wildlife.

Jake loves taking the back roads and discovering new pockets of public lands and waters to explore with his bow, rifle or his fishing rod. When not hunting, fishing or working as an attorney, Jake can be found busy in the kitchen cooking up wild salmon and wild game dishes with new friends and old.


trb.jpgCorey Ellis, Montana Chapter Stewardship Leader

Corey is a jack of all trades. Working in fine restaurants, on farms, in construction and managing conservation properties – this lifestyle has allowed him to live, hunt, fish and explore all over North America including the desert Southwest, northern New England, Alaska and the Rocky Mountains top to bottom. He studied environmental studies and philosophy at Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO where he developed a passion for protecting all things wild. Corey was also on the founding board of the New England Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers where he helped to affect several policy changes that benefitted wildlife and hunting. Additionally, he serves on the Board of Directors for Orion: The Hunters Institute.

Now living in Missoula, Corey has spent the last few years as a local Montana BHA committee member and is looking forward to a greater level of participation and action as a board member. He believes sportsmen and women have much to be proud of in their heritage, but they must continue to evolve and lead if hunting, angling and the habitat that these pursuits depend on are to survive. Corey and his long-time partner, Julie, believe in working as little as possible so that they can spend as much time as possible advocating for and enjoying wild places and wildlife.


trb.jpgBill Spahr, Montana Chapter Events Leader

Bill was born and raised in a small town in southern Pennsylvania. He spent much of his formative years doing the same things that the other small town kids were doing; hunting and fishing to help fill the family freezer. At the age of 18, Bill enlisted in the US Air Force and spent the next 8 years supporting missions in Minot, ND, Adana, Turkey and finally, in Great Falls, MT.

After separating from the Air Force, Bill went back to school and earned a Bachelor's Degree from Park University then landed a job in the private sector. Years later, Bill heard about BHA and attended the Montana Chapter's first campout event in 2016. There, Bill met BHA members Doug Krings, Dane Rider and Paul Kemper, and walked away feeling like he had found a path that he wanted to walk with his life.

Recently, Bill has left the business world and is pursuing a degree in Environmental Studies with an eye on landing a job in conservation. In his spare time, Bill enjoys spending time with his extremely patient and beautiful wife Rachel, as well as exploring the outdoors with their two children, Mason and Abigail.

 


trb.jpgPaul Kemper, Montana Chapter R3/DEI Leader

Paul was born and raised in northwest Pennsylvania and graduated from Penn State in 2016 with a degree in broadcast journalism and wildlife & fisheries science. He was one of BHA's first interns in 2015 when the membership sat at 1/10th of what at is today, at just over 3,000 members. Paul has been an active voice for BHA at the local level since moving to Montana in 2016, and he joined the Montana BHA Board in 2021. Hunting elk and whitetails with a stick bow are a few of his favorite pursuits. He's also a board member of the Traditional Bowhunters of Montana and a cohost of The Bowhunting Montana Podcast.

 

Board Members - Officers

John Sullivan:            Board Chair - Missoula

Tom Healy:                Board Vice Chair - Wisdom

Lou Bahin:                 Board Secretary-Treasurer - Missoula

Dane Rider:               Montana Chapter Federal Policy Leader - Lewistown

Graham Coppes:        Montana Chapter Conservation Leader - Missoula

Thomas Baumeister:  Montana Chapter Capital Leader – Helena

 

Board Members - Regional

Molly VandeVoort:       Flathead Board Member - Columbia Falls

Scott Mylnechuk:        Missoula Valley Board Member - Missoula

Doug Krings:              Central Montana Board Member - Lewistown

Scott Desena:             Southwest Montana Board Member - Butte

Chris McCarthy:          Gallatin Board Member - Belgrade

Jake Schwaller:           Eastern Montana Board Member - Billings

 

Board Members - Specialists

Corey Ellis:                Montana Chapter Stewardship Leader - Missoula

Bill Spahr:                 Montana Chapter Events Leader - Great Falls

Paul Kemper:             Montana Chapter R3/DEI Leader - Bozeman


 

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