Under Tawney’s leadership, BHA grew from a small, volunteer-based organization to the North American leader in hunter/angler public lands advocacy; BHA board will lead search committee
MISSOULA, Mont. – Today, after 10 years of dedicated service building an organization that has become the continent’s leading voice for hunters and anglers and public lands and waters, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers President and CEO Land Tawney announced his departure from BHA, effective the end of July.
Over the course of Tawney’s tenure, BHA vaulted from a small, volunteer-based, Western-centric organization with less than a thousand members to a North American-wide influential powerhouse with chapters in 48 states, Washington, D.C., two Canadian provinces and one Canadian territory. With an engaged community of more than half a million members, supporters and partners and 30-plus staff, BHA is impacting policy from a local to federal level, playing an increasing role in the stewardship of North America’s public lands and waters, winning fights for conservation and access, and creating a “big tent” gathering point for outdoorsmen and women of all stripes.
“My time at BHA has been the most gratifying of my conservation career,” said Tawney. “A lot of people think their voice doesn’t count and feel disenfranchised from decisions affecting our public lands, waters and wildlife. Together, the dedicated volunteers, members and staff at BHA have turned that notion on its head. Margaret Mead’s quote couldn’t ring more true: ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’”
Notable policy wins achieved by BHA under Tawney’s watch include permanently reauthorizing and fully funding the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund; successfully banning drones for hunting and scouting across much of North America; defeating a range of ill-conceived attempts to sell, transfer or privatize public lands and waters (including legislation introduced – and then quickly withdrawn – by then-Congressman Jason Chaffetz); ensuring the long-term conservation of the Boundary Waters Wilderness; and, most recently, defending public access via corner crossing in Wyoming.
Under Tawney’s leadership, BHA established its Armed Forces Initiative, Collegiate Club, and Hunting for Sustainability programs. BHA maintains a membership that is young (63% of BHA members are 45 and younger) and is politically diverse, split almost equally among Republicans, Democrats and Independents.
“Land Tawney is the most charismatic, inspirational and visionary leader with whom I’ve ever worked,” said Ted Koch, chair of the North American BHA board of directors. “He has been the face and heartbeat of BHA, growing the organization and making it effective in ways that perhaps no one else could. We look forward to growing BHA’s role in the hunting and fishing conservation community going forward and to supporting Land as he leads and impacts conservation in North America in new ways.”
“The people, the people, the people!” emphasized Tawney. “I’m in awe of the time, talent and treasure individual volunteers generously give to BHA. We are warriors in the conservation arena, and I’d bet on our kick-ass staff each and every time. I’m proud of what we have all accomplished, together.
“I can’t wait to see what the next chapter will bring,” Tawney concluded. “It’s been one heck of a ride. I’m a life member of BHA. My kids are both life members. We will continue to speak up for the wild things and wild places that cannot speak for themselves. I hope to see you all on the trail or on the water soon. Onward and upward.”
The North American BHA board of directors will soon commence a search for Tawney’s replacement. In this interim period, BHA vice-president of policy and government relations John Gale and vice-president of operations Frankie McBurney Olson will be acting in an interim co-CEO status to guide the organization.