Brock Wahl, Co-Chair
A North Dakota native, Brock currently lives in Bismarck with his wife and two kids and works in natural resources. Growing up in a family full of avid waterfowlers, he wasn’t really introduced to the idea of public land and public access until he harvested his first two deer on public land as a teenager. “We’ve always been a hunting family, but it wasn’t until I started hunting out west and spending time on National Forest Service land that I took some ownership in our Public Land.” Now spending most of his free time with a bow in hand chasing Mule Deer, the North Dakota Badlands have become his home away from home and they formed a foundation for his idea of conservation and wild places. “North Dakota does not lay claim to any dramatic mountain ranges and our landscape can be a little dull by comparison, but I will always consider the Little Missouri National Grasslands to be the place that inspired me to get involved in conservation, they played a huge role in defining what conservation meant to me. The Badlands led me to BHA.” In terms of his work with BHA, he would consider himself an energetic and passionate advocate for public wild lands, and takes pride in being intimately familiar with issues. Brock has written numerous articles about the Badlands in local publications and the Backcountry Journal.
James O'Shea, Co-Chair
James grew up in Minot North Dakota, where he enjoyed hiking, walleye fishing, and pheasant hunting. While attending college in Wyoming he developed a passion for the mountains. When he wasn’tworking on a ranch or in school, he spent all his free time camping, backpacking, rafting, snowboarding, and hunting. Later he moved to Grand Forks where he spent much of his free time fishing the Red River and lakes all over Minnesota. He didn’t get into big game hunting until his late 20’s when a good friend gave him a bow to use and learn with. With that generous gift, an addiction was formed hunting white tail and turkeys in Eastern North Dakota and Minnesota. However, the outdoor desires where just not being met. He decided to plan a trip back to the landscape he loved in the badlands and solo backpacked the Maah Daah Hey Trail. After completing the trail in 3 days he decided a change in his life must be made. He picked up and moved to Watford City that year. Now with the larger amount of public land in his back yard fills his whole life with the great outdoors. From shed hunting and wildlife photography to chasing mule deer and bugling bulls with his bow, “There are endless opportunities when we have access to public land.”
He found BHA through a take action post and has since followed along with all legislation attempting to remove or develop on public lands that he holds so sacred. Within North Dakota he found many areas that he would like to improve on or restrict access to and was not finding the help he desired from other organizations. So, he sought out BHA to get more involved and is looking forward to protecting and improving our public lands for generations to come. “Invest in land, they aren’t making anymore of it!”
“One gift, one act of generosity, one word may change someone’s life.”
Ethan Hodnefield, Treasurer
Ethan was born and raised in Grand Forks and was introduced to the outdoors by his parents from an early age. Family vacations to the national parks and hunting with his dad for started his appreciation for hunting and the outdoors. He lives in Grand Forks with his wife, two boys and their lab where he works as a financial advisor. His free time is spent at the family cabin in Minnesota fishing, biking, and enjoying water sports in the summer and ice fishing and snowmobiling in the winter. During the fall he is either sitting in a tree, bow in hand for whitetail or chasing pheasants with his dog, Cash, in ND or hunting the west for elk, mule deer or antelope.
His love for western hunting and public lands was ignited when he joined his dad on an archery elk hunt in Montana chasing his first bugling bull. A couple years later he took a fall off school to camp and hunt the public lands of Montana and has been out west every fall since; this has resulted in many new friendships, memories, and great experiences. He joins BHA to meet others who share the passion of hunting and the outdoors while doing his part in defending our public lands legacy so his boys and future generations can have the opportunity to create their own memories and friendships in the outdoors on public land.
Johnathon Torfin, Secretary
John was born and raised in northeastern North Dakota. Growing up, he spent summers fishing the area’s small reservoirs or the big water of Devils Lake. In the fall, he chased waterfowl with friends and family until it was time to focus on whitetails. After attending college in Fargo, John graduated from Bismarck State College and is currently working on an Operations Management Bachelors from Arizona State University. He is currently employed by a local electric cooperative and also serves as a staff sergeant in the North Dakota Army National Guard, with one tour overseas. After moving to Mandan for his career, he began to rely more on public land for his hunting and fishing pursuits. In addition to hunting and fishing, John and his wife spend time each year exploring the west’s national parks and national forests. “I believe the two main factors to a quality outing are habitat and access. Compared to other states our size, North Dakota has relatively few public acres, and these lands that belong to everybody need to be protected. That’s what led me to join BHA”.
Trace Bakke, Co-Social Media Lead
Trace grew up in Kindred where he spent his time wrestling, racing (four-wheelers), hunting, and fishing. After high school, he received his degree in Social Studies Education and is currently a 7th grade teacher in Moorhead, Minnesota. He now lives in Colfax with his wife Hannah where they spend most summer nights preparing for the upcoming hunting season. On the weekends, you will find Trace either in the stand, in the field, or in the badlands hunting anything and everything he can get a license or tag for. Trace first found his love for the outdoors at a young age while hunting whitetails and waterfowl with his dad. Ever since then he has made it his goal to make sure that there is land for future generations to hunt on public land. After hunting season comes to an end he and his wife love to get out and ice fish many different lakes around North Dakota and Minnesota.
“In a civilized and cultivated country, wild animals only continue to exist at all when preserved by sportsmen.” Theodore Roosevelt
Jeff Benda, Co-Social Media Lead
Jeff Benda lives in Fargo, North Dakota where he works as a wild game chef, outdoor writer, and photographer. He owns a media company that works with businesses in the hunting, fishing, and shooting industries. When he is not working, Jeff loves traveling the desolate back roads of the Little Missouri National Grasslands found in western North Dakota in search of upland birds and mule deer. He's also an avid waterfowl hunter, chasing ducks and geese across the U.S. for six months out of the year. But his greatest love is raising his outdoor-loving daughter with the help of his wife and hiking partner, Melissa, who shares his passion for protecting wild places and wildlife.
Michael Campion, Stewardship Committee
Mike was born and raised in southern Minnesota where he spent much of his childhood hunting, fishing, and recreating in the hills and river valleys of the Mississippi River. In the fall, he spent time chasing ducks and geese with family and friends or sitting in a tree with bow in hand hoping to spot a roaming whitetail. Much of the winter and summer months were spent on the ice or in a boat angling for the catch of the day. His true love was hitting the local trout streams with his fly rod and hand tied flies that he and his grandpa spent countless weekends tying up.
Mike moved to Fargo, North Dakota in 2006 to attend college at NDSU where he obtained a degree in Civil Engineering. His career has brought him all across the US and North Dakota over the past decade and gave him the chance to leave Fargo for a few years to live in Bismarck and Williston. He ultimately landed back in Fargo where he and his family now reside. He’s thankful for that time in new communities, because sometimes it takes being a local to realize how much you like hitting cool spots off the beat and path. Mike now spends time traveling to public lands across the country with his wife, Ashley, and their two children whenever possible. In addition to getting his children involved in hunting and fishing, he also spends significant time camping and hiking through the summer. They’re always looking for a new adventure and a way to spread their love of the outdoors. Mike is passionate about conservation and maintaining access to public lands for all to enjoy for years to come.
“The beauty and charm of the wilderness are his for the asking, for the edges of the wilderness lie close beside the beaten roads of the present travel." – Theodore Roosevelt
Darren Limesand, BOD
Darren grew up on a ranch in Eastern Montana. When he wasn't working, Darren spent a lot of time hunting and trapping. While going to MSU in Bozeman, he was able to hunt elk and fly fish for trout in some of the best trout streams in the world. Since moving to North Dakota with his wife and three boys in the mid 90’s, he became an avid upland bird hunter. Darren became a bow hunter while in North Dakota, hunting deer on the public lands in western North Dakota. As he has gotten older, he has come to appreciate the public lands and the opportunities they afford every American. North Dakota is also where Teddy Roosevelt's roots in conservation started.
"We need to maintain conservation efforts, not only for us, but especially for future generations. BHA is a great organization to do just that."
Dave Brandt, BOD
Dave grew up in the agricultural landscape of Iowa and learned at a young age the implications of limited access to limited resources for those who yearn to spend their free time in the great outdoors. After graduating from Iowa State University, Dave moved to an outdoorsman’s paradise called North Dakota to begin his career as a wildlife biologist for 27 years. Unfortunately, Dave watched the same history of commercialization and loss of access that he witnessed in Iowa unfold in his new home. This is the same plague that has decimated hunting in many states for those with modest means.
"In order for future generations to enjoy any semblance of what we have been so blessed to enjoy, it is imperative that we defend those special places remaining, which belong to all Americans, from those who only think with their pocketbooks or care only about the bottom line."
Mike Bush, BOD
Mike spent his younger years fishing and hunting Minnesota's northwoods. Always interested in animals and animal behavior, Mike pursued a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife from the U of MN. After school, Mike began working on his dissertation in South Florida, working on fish ecology projects and Everglades restoration. Of particular interest were how Florida Bass and Dogfish (a very underrated game fish) were responding to the massive landscape changes that were happening because of landscape restoration projects. Mike spent a lot of time airboating across some the largest public wetlands in the Lower 48, interacting with fishermen all over who take great value in fishing this massive wilderness just a short drive from the Miami/Ft Lauderdale metro area. Mike now lives in Fargo with his wife and little boy, dedicated to the idea that if the people of South Florida can have such easy access to wildlife-rich public lands, the people of North Dakota should have the same.
Logan Anderson, BOD
Logan was born and raised in rural central Minnesota hunting, fishing, and recreating in the plentiful public land and waters. Growing up with thousands of acres of State Forest as a backyard he learned to appreciate public lands before he even learned what they truly were. After attending the University of Minnesota Crookston for Precision Agriculture he moved to south-central North Dakota and then northeastern North Dakota working in agriculture before settling with his wife in eastern ND just outside the Red River Valley. Logan enjoys the diverse and varied public lands and waters across ND for the unique opportunities for big and small game, birds, and fishing. "Growing up with such immediate access to public land and then encountering access challenges after I moved away from home has made me passionate to increase and preserve access to our public lands for everyone, every kid deserves to experience the outdoors as I was privileged to.
Patrick Weninger, BOD
Patrick Weninger was born and raised in Bismarck North Dakota. At a young age, his dad and his brothers introduced Patrick to hunting. His love of the North Dakota outdoors continued to grow. He has chosen to remain in North Dakota and raise his own family because of what the North Dakota outdoors has to offer. Every fall, Patrick enjoys deer hunting, waterfowl hunting with his wife, family and friends. It wasn’t until the last couple of years he really picked up big game hunting out west. That experience gave him a better understanding of the great opportunity public lands has to offer. When winter comes around and hunting slows down, Patrick takes to the lakes to enjoy ice fishing. In the summer months, he enjoys 4-wheeling, working on my tractors, and quality family time cooking and camping. “I believe everyone measures their hunting and fishing success differently. Whether that be filling a tag, catching a few fish, or getting a personal best. These successes and goals can be met and enjoyed on our great public lands and waters.” Help from a friend/co worker and wanting to help keep opportunities around for future generations is what led Patrick to BHA.
Devin Schmaltz, BOD
Devin grew up on the eastern side of North Dakota but spent much of his fall months in central and western ND. Devin, along with his wife and son, currently reside in Velva, ND. Devin and his family try to take advantage of the numerous outdoor activities offered in central/western ND whether it be hiking, fishing, pheasant and big game hunting, or simply just enjoying the outdoors. Public lands have played a bigger part in his life in the past decade and he wants to ensure those public lands will be around for his son and future generations to enjoy.