Joshua Lenart, Chair
Although his dad is a bird hunter and his brother a deer hunter, Joshua is an archery elk hunter. A lifelong outdoorsman, he moved to Montana to chase wapiti across the public lands that support them after a chance encounter with a traditional archer in the Gallatin National Forest in 2002. Joshua holds an MA in English from Montana State University and a PhD in Rhetoric and Writing Studies from the University of Utah where he currently teaches technical communication in the Communication, Leadership, Ethics, and Research (CLEAR) Program. His appointment is in the Departments of Civil & Environmental Engineering and Chemical Engineering. His research focuses on land management policy as it relates to landscape-scale infrastructure and its impacts on wildlife, habitat, and adaptation planning. Currently, he is working closely with several local and national organizations to research stakeholder discourse on the sale, transfer, and management of federal public lands. Joshua also serves on the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Regional Advisory Council (Central Region).
Feel free to email Joshua at firstname.lastname@example.org with any issues, ideas, questions you have relating to wildlife and public lands in and around the Intermountain West.
Perry Hall, Vice Chair
A bit of an anomaly in the Utah chapter, Perry grew up in eastern Massachusetts, spending his summers fishing, shooting archery, and exploring what little public lands existed in the Greater Boston area. He quickly realized that his love of all things out of doors required a change. He migrated to his parents’ home state of Vermont for college, where he could pursue his passions of skiing and mountain biking. A bit of an adult onset hunter, Perry finally began pursuing the critters of New England after a roommate from Vermont got him into the deer and upland woods. Upon graduating from the University of Vermont with a B.S. in Recreation Management, he moved to Alta to pursue a powder skiing master’s degree. He easily made his decision to remain in Utah after one summer spent exploring the public land opportunities in the Salt Lake Area. After an extremely comedic first duck hunt, and an encounter with a bugling bull 30 minutes into his first elk hunt, his initial apprehension and excuses disappeared and you can now find him pursuing mule deer, elk, and waterfowl from August to January. After countless days spent on public lands hunting, mountain biking, backcountry skiing, and fly-fishing, he wanted to be more involved and jumped headfirst into BHA in the fall of 2016.
Chris Smith, Treasurer
Chris was raised in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California on the western edge of enormous tracts of public land. Through family friends he got the opportunity to hunt deer, wild pig, turkey, and duck, although ironically these early hunting experiences took place exclusively on private land. It was only after moving to Salt Lake City and exploring the public hunting and fishing opportunities in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming that he became aware of how important access to public land is for the general hunting and fishing public. As Utah may be regarded as ground zero for the transfer of public lands, he began looking for ways to help.
He joined BHA in 2015 on the recommendation of a friend, and is now applying his background in business and software development to the role of Chapter Treasurer. Regarding the missions of BHA, he looks forward to a time when we are no longer on the defensive with regard to the transfer of public lands, and can return our main focus to improving access to public lands and streams that are inaccessible currently.
Caitlin Curry, Secretary
Born and raised in Buffalo, NY, Caitlin grew up with an innate interest in the outdoors but without vast tracts of public land nearby. After re-discovering her passion for fishing and taking up hunting as an adult, the outdoor bug eventually took hold and caused her to move to Utah in 2018 in search of countless public land adventures. Already an active member of the NY BHA chapter, Caitlin was well in-tune with the severity of attacks on public lands in Utah prior to moving, but saw the issue as an opportunity to jump in and step up for public lands in the middle of the crossfire. Though she is very open to pursuing a vast array of wild game, her favorite hunting experiences so far include bowhunting for elk and training her Irish Red Setter puppy for upland game. Professionally, Caitlin is a financial analyst with a B.S. in Business Administration and MBA from the University at Buffalo where she ran Track & Field and Cross Country.
Kait West, Public Outreach Chair
My name is Kait West. I grew up in Central Oregon and moved to Utah in 2009 to finish my degree in exercise and sport science at the University of Utah. I grew up in the outdoors, skiing/snowboarding, hiking, camping, playing on the river, and rock climbing. I didn't start hunting until I met and started dating my husband in 2011. It was hunting that opened my eyes to public lands issues. My vision for the Utah chapter of BHA is to stand out as a voice against the sale and transfer of public lands. My children (3 daughters) are a huge driving force for me. I want them to have the same access and opportunities in the outdoors that I have had, and that they deserve.I am excited to be a Board Member and look forward to growing our chapter and getting our voices heard.
Grey Wilson, Northern Region Board Member
A lifelong resident of Cache Valley, Grey is an avid outdoorsman who especially enjoys camping and archery hunting for big game with his wife, Andrea. He and Andrea work together in real estate and property management in Northern Utah and Southern Idaho. He loves scouting new areas and meeting new people who share his passion for the outdoors and hunts as many new areas as he can every year. He wants to expand the outreach of sportsmen towards a focus on protecting and preserving public land and water.
Kory Tams, Northern Region Board Member
My name is Kory Tams. I grew up and still live in the western parts of Weber County, spending most of my early years in the mud and sage chasing waterfowl and upland birds, and whipping flies on the Ogden and Weber Rivers. Very seldom did I not have a shotgun or a fly rod in my vehicle! Recently, within the last five years I have jumped head first into chasing the bigger game that Utah has on offer, and it has directly impacted my affinity toward Public Lands. I've searched out and spent time in more remote, wild places within the last half-decade than I have my entire life. My eyes have been opened to the vastness the West has available to us all, and the thought of losing any of it pains me. I began working with BHA more seriously during the summer of 2018, and the opportunity to become a Utah Chapter Board Member is the perfect next-step in making an impact. Public Lands have changed my life, the least I can do is continue the favor.
Ashley Amundsen, Northern Region Board Member
Hi y'all, I'm Ashley Amundsen! Between Georgia, New Mexico, New Hampshire and back west to Utah I've been a public land user since I could toddle along a trail. Since moving to Utah in 2008 I've fallen in love once more with the mountains. For every season I've something to enjoy: hiking & backpacking, hunting, snowshoeing and birding! Many take these majestic lands for granted, as a youth I certainly did. The past several years I've reflected on how access to these lands shaped me, the wonderful memories gained and how my life was impacted by decreased access. BHA provided me with opportunities to get involved and get my hands dirty; first through conservation projects and now as a Utah Board Member representing the Northern Region. Let's make 2019 a year to actively participate in conserving and protecting these lands for future generations of persons and wildlife alike!
Austin Pierce, Northeast Region Board Member
My name is Austin Pierce, I'm Utah born and raised in small rural parts of the state. I've grown up around ranchers, oilfield workers, fishers and hunters all using public land to provide, survive and revive and I follow in their footsteps. I spent my life running around the desert and the mountains; I've hiked, fished, hunted, rode horses, jeeped, camped and photographed across vast pieces of public lands in this state and others. Originally taking for granted the fact they were just there when I wanted them, never realizing that with the power of a pen stroke they could all be gone. As I've grown older I've watched pieces of land I used to play on disappear or even been met with locked gates where fences used to not stand and often it seems with little to no opposition.... BHA gives us the opportunity to bind together those of multiple use groups towards a common purpose, protecting public land. We do not all need to agree on every subject, but many of us rely on those public lands existing for our hobbies and lifestyles to continue. As a father nothing scares me more than my children never having the opportunities to experience wild places and the natural world like I've had in my short lifetime.
Melissa Early, Central Region Board Member
My interest in conservation was forged in the smells of wild duck roasting in the oven, growing up in rural Virginia. I remember my dad and our Chesapeake Bay retriever returning from early morning duck hunts, smelling distinctively like a swamp. I moved out West after college, where I had my first taste of elk steak, hunted by my Wilderness mentors on National Forest, and served around a campfire while I was a park ranger at Mount Rainier National Park. From backpacking 15 miles to fish in Yellowstone National Park’s wild waters; peeking out my tent on a Wyoming ridgeline silhouetted by golden aspens, bugling bulls, and setting full moon, in the Bridger-Teton National Forest; witnessing dawn’s pink light on Utah’s sagebrush sea to the tune of an active sage grouse lek on remote BLM wildlands; fishing unnamed lakes in Utah's High Uintas Wilderness filled with jumping wild cutthroat and starry night skies; savoring the taste of the firs in the ruffed grouse I shot and cooked with wildcrafted morel mushrooms; to the powdery slopes --- public lands enrich my life each and every day. My M.S. thesis research at the University of Montana examined ranchers and farmers who are co-existing with native predators, or "farming with the wild" at the nexus of private and public lands. I am continuously awed by the great migrations and the presence of charismatic species in the truly wild Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, as well as the Greater Sagebrush Sea in Utah and beyond. Our shared 640 million acres of incredible public lands are our greatest American treasure and must remain in public lands as our enduring legacy!
Andrew Wike, Central Region Board Member
I’ve been using public lands for recreation since my mid 20’s. I am relatively new to hunting and fishing, but been lucky enough to ski, climb, hike, hunt, and fish in a number of beautiful places across this great country. I’m a public lands absolutist. Government officials threatening our public lands count on us being uninformed and confused by the bureaucratic process. I am committed to beating opponents of public lands at their own game. We need to engage with other public land users, strengthen our numbers, and focus our efforts where they will be most effective. The best times of my life have been spent on public land, I don’t plan to lose.
Brandon Savaiinaea, Southern Region Board Member
My name is Brandon Savaiinaea. I was born a raised in Independence, Missouri. I grew up around family and friends that hunted by my mother never allowed me join in on the fun. I mainly fished growing up catching bass, blue gill and crappie. At age 19 I finally had my first hunting experience joining my friends on a squirrel hunt. I wouldn’t hunt again until I was 28 years old. I’m sort of a late bloomer when it comes to hunting and virtually didn’t know anything about public lands issues until I started watching and listening to Steve Rinella. From that point on I was hooked. I lived in California for ten years before moving to Southwest Utah three years ago. I’ve been on many failed hunts in my short time hunting but I’ve had some of the most enjoyable experiences in my life hunting and recreating on public lands. I knew that when I moved here that the federally managed public lands had been under constant threat. After two years of living here I decided to get involved. I had already been a member of BHA for a few years and then I heard the Muley Freak podcasts Western Slam with Josh and Perry on it that was hosted by Kory Van Tams. At that time we had no representation in Southern Utah. After meeting Perry at the Hunt Expo and exchanging emails with Perry and was encouraged to write an essay on why I wanted to be part of the Utah. In short I am just an average guy that is passionate about hunting and public lands. I have no background in politics or wildlife biology or a seasoned hunter. I am willing to put up a fight so that my children and my children’s children will be able to recreate and enjoy these public lands that many take for granted. My goal is to educate and drive membership in Southern Utah so that many will be able to understand the complexities and alleviate some of the so called fears and mistrust of federally managed public lands.
Tyler Coleman, USU College Club President
Husband, father of two, native trout conservationist and fighting to keep it public and protect those lands. I spent most of my life living in Arizona taking the public land for granted but after a few years living near Detroit, Michigan we needed to get back west were we belong where public land is abundant. I am currently the Utah State University Vice President, work doing public out for Western Native Trout Initiative, providing brand content and manage social media accounts for fly fishing companies, work in the USU Fish Ecology lab, write articles for various fly fishing and outdoor media platforms and attend USU for Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences / Management and Restoration of Aquatic Ecosystems. Instagram @thecolemancollection
Jay Banta, Board Member Emeritus
Jay was raised in the farm country of the Salinas Valley of California. He developed a passion for all things outdoors at a very early age and was engaged in studying birds of all kinds by the time he was 7 or 8 years old. He fondly remembers his early hunting forays, riding his bike across his small community and going down to the river to chase quail, cottontails and an occasional duck.
This love of wildlife led him to a degree in wildlife management from Humboldt State University in 1978. Soon after, he embarked on a career as a wildlife technician, working on national wildlife refuges in California, Nevada, Minnesota, and Utah. This was followed by a six year tour as a Wildlife Biologist for the Department of Army in Oklahoma and then a transfer back to the National Wildlife Refuge System as the Refuge Manager at the Bill Williams NWR in Arizona. After a couple of hot years on Lake Havasu, he transferred back to his dream station, the Fish Springs NWR where he remained as the Refuge Manager for 19 years before retiring in March of 2010.
Aside from watching birds, Jay is a passionate spring turkey hunter and enjoys pursuing all upland birds in the fall. He views his work with BHA as a stellar opportunity to continue to contribute to the habitat conservation that has been core to his world for over 40 years. He now lives in beautiful Torrey, UT and is the proud father of two wonderful kids and the most wonderful granddaughter in the whole world!