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Meet Land Tawney, the face of young, passionate conservation group

Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Outdoors

MINNEAPOLIS -- Land Tawney, president and chief executive officer of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, headquartered in Missoula, Mont., delivered the keynote address at the Department of Natural Resources' annual roundtable for key stakeholders.

Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA) was founded by a small group of hunters and fishermen around an Oregon campfire in 2004, with a mission of protecting the nation's 640 million acres of public lands.

Tawney, 42, a fifth-generation Montanan, worked for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and the National Wildlife Federation before taking the reins of BHA in 2013.

Tawney and his wife, Glenna, live in Missoula with their son and daughter and two Labrador retrievers, Turk and Tule.

Q: How does BHA benefit public lands?

A: We're a membership organization that works collaboratively with many other conservation groups, including the National Wildlife Federation, Trout Unlimited, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Pheasants Forever and others.

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But our niche is a strict focus on our wild public lands and waters. We want to ensure access to those places, and ensure as well the habitat on those lands is retained. These lands belong to all of us. Their establishment didn't happen by accident, and it won't be carried forward by accident.

Q: Though still much smaller than wildlife groups such as Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever, BHA is growing fast, and the group's members are relatively young.

A: We more than doubled our membership in 2017, from 8,000 to 17,000, and our goal in 2018 is to double it again. Hunters and anglers make up the majority of our members, but we have other members who hike or otherwise use public lands in other ways.

Q: Your approach to raising money is also different. You don't hold fund-raising banquets but instead host "Pint Nights," "Brewfests" and "Story Nights."

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