Current Board & Staff
Laura Anhalt grew up an Army brat and settled in North Dakota in 1976. Laura and husband Tracy Potter have been married for 37 years and have two adult children.
For 23 years she worked for the State Tax Department as receptionist and Wellness Coordinator, earning the Lt. Governor’s Worksite Wellness Silver Award before retiring in April 2015. Laura is currently working on YogaFit’s 200-hour Teacher Training Certificate.
As Wellness Coordinator, Laura did research on the importance of wilderness and urban green spaces to our mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health. Her love of primitive camping has highlighted the need for wilderness preservation. She is especially interested in preserving or restoring silence and dark night sky in our special places, the places that feel like you’re the only human there.
An avid outdoorsman, hunter and conservationist, Rich recently retired from Dickinson State University where he served for 21 years as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Vice President for Academic Affairs.
Rich served for eight years on the Bureau of Land Management's Regional Advisory Committee for western North and South Dakota and eastern Montana.
He and Mary Ann remain in Dickinson where they raised three children.
Margi Coyle was born and raised in Northern Indiana where she grew up exploring the forests, alfalfa fields, and creeks on family land. At 16 she moved to Pennsylvania to attend Mercersburg Academy where students from 34 countries introduced her to an international mind view. These two periods of life established the foundation for Margi’s personal and educational pursuits in international wildlife management and conservation, including studies abroad in Kenya, Uganda and Costa Rica. Her diverse academic and professional background results in her unique ability to incorporate non-traditional ideas to improve existing management and research techniques.
In western North Dakota, Dr. Coyle is often recognized as “the Eagle Lady” for her Golden Eagle research investigating potential effects of disturbance on nesting populations. She is currently Asst. Professor of Biology at Dickinson State University where she established a Science Seminar Series to increase dialogue between natural resource research scientists, students, and the broader public. Margi is also an active member of the DSU Native Voices Committee.
If one wants a question researched, a thought developed, a spontaneous adventure pursued, a passion fired, an inspired bit of humor shared, that’s Margi. Dr. Coyle currently serves as BCA secretary.
Margi now lives in northern Minnesota where she works for the MN Department of Natural Resources.
Lillian Crook is one of BCA’s founding voices. Growing up on the family ranch in southwestern North Dakota near Pretty Butte and the community of Rhame, Lillian has a lifelong history of explorations into the Wild. Her grandfather was a founding member of the Little Missouri Grazing Association and took her to the top of Bullion Butte as a very small child. A retired academic librarian, Lillian lives in Bismarck and frequently canoes or kayaks the Little Missouri and Missouri rivers. Her first Wilderness experience was in the Gila National Forest in New Mexico as a young girl. She takes strength from the eloquent words of her favorite contemporary writer, Terry Tempest Williams: “If you know wilderness like you know love, you would be unwilling to let it go. We are talking about the body of the beloved, not real estate.”
Combine professional and personal interests in geography, anthropology, poetry and the fine arts, add physical challenge, and Gary Cummisk exemplifies the conservationist’s focus on humankind’s “place” within the natural world.
Assistant professor of geography, anthropology and education at Dickinson State University, Dr. Cummisk earned his doctorate in geography at the University of Oregon, having completed a masters program at Cornell University in creative writing and a masters of science in natural resources at Central Washington University.
Gary is a published, award-winning poet, and encourages his students and others to integrate science, culture, art, and personal perspective in the classroom and beyond.
He and partner Gia (also a geographer) spend time in western North Dakota’s wild landscapes with a son and daughter, and put Dickinson’s West River Community Center to vigorous use.
Gary and Gia now live in Ellensburg, Washington.
Tom Dahle is a gentleman’s gentleman, and provides a champion role model in his work with the Boy Scouts of America. A devoted Scout Master, he routinely gets his scouts out into nature and teaches them the simple lessons often neglected in our modern world. Tom always looks for the big picture, tying local and national history into the natural setting of landscape and wildlife.
Public accounting has been his vocation for 29 years, the last 24 in private practice, but his prior experience as a high school math instructor may explain his affinity for working with youth. Tom also serves on the steering committee for the Prairie Climate Stewardship Network, a faith-based group focusing on world climate change.
Living in Bismarck, Tom and his wife Karen Oby can usually be found at any community event requiring an extra pair of hands or inspiring social consciousness.
Tom serves as BCA's treasurer.
A recent “immigrant” to western North Dakota, Deborah DeMarey brings fresh observation to conservation, cultural and social issues in the Badlands. Deborah is an active member of her community, an avid bird watcher, and lives with her three dogs on the urban/rural interface.
Having spent her childhood years in New England, DeMarey came to the Great Plains to earn her doctorate at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Prior to her return to the prairie landscape in 2004, DeMarey served as assistant professor of biology at Chown College in Murfreesboro, NC, and currently holds the same position at Dickinson State University. She has the unique position of oversight for the new greenhouse in Murphy Hall, collaborating with DSU students, the University of North Dakota and Cornell University on research projects.
As Dr. DeMarey challenges her students to consider a diverse range of perspectives on wildlife, land management and rural issues, so does she provoke insights within BCA membership activities.
Deborah currently lives in Virginia.
A. Jay Grantier
The youngest son of Jay N. Grantier and Clara (Winter) Roesner Grantier, Jay lived a childhood rooted in the early ranching history of western ND. His father worked cattle drives up from Texas, ranched in the Killdeer Mountain and Tobacco Garden vicinities, and was an original member and president of the McKenzie County Grazing Association. His schoolmarm mother came out alone from eastern ND to find herself, her love and her life in the September/May romance that the elder Grantier inspired.
Jay spent his teen years at the Three V’s Ranch where his love for the Badlands on horseback burrowed deep.
Most of Jay’s adult working years were spent in Colorado where he furthered his love for the outdoors. His work-related international travel increased awareness of environmental issues on a global scale – especially as regards population densities, and the need for foresight and protection of Wilderness.
Grantier “came home” after retirement, devoting time to BCA (he is a past president), his family, the ND Cowboy Hall of Fame, a love of flying, and canine friend, Arthur.
Jay currently lives in Walla Walla, Washington.
Christine traces her love of wilderness to her earliest memories as a little girl growing up in Colorado with its wild and trackless mountains and forests. She recalls that child’s sense of gratitude for the wild and pristine places open to explore if one was simply willing to carry a pack.
Moving to Minot as a junior in high school and then to Bismarck in 1975 where she began her law practice, Christine discovered and fell in love with North Dakota's Badlands. Captivated by the beauty of the rugged terrain, the abundant wildlife, and the clear, open sky, she and her family made many of their happiest memories hiking, kayaking, and camping in the Little Missouri River valley.
Christine is a defender of North Dakota and holds that all of us – citizens to government to industry - have a shared duty to protect her. With a heart as big as the Badlands she loves, Christine is currently serving as BCA Vice President.
Craig has lived all of his 34 years in North Dakota, the first 18 in Dickinson and the last 16 in Fargo. Craig graduated from NDSU where he served his senior year as President of the student body and is currently a Business Development Analyst for the company InterceptEFT.
Growing up in western ND allowed him to explore just about every butte and ravine in the Badlands. From hunting, hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing – yes, he claims it is possible to rock climb on Sentinel Butte - each part of the Badlands offered something different. For five summers during college he worked on the Maah Daah Hey Trail crew for the US Forest Service. While on the crew he built new trail, maintained existing trail, constructed campgrounds and fought wildland forest fires, giving him an appreciation for the rugged environment and all that it offers.
Always a leader, Craig is BCA’s President and states that with more and more development of the Badlands natural resources there needs to be more attention to preservation and responsible development to ensure future generations can also enjoy the Badlands.
For over 20 years David owned and operated a housing development and construction business in the Minneapolis area. Like many others, he migrated to North Dakota and the Bakken for business opportunity when the Minneapolis housing market dried up. And, he found that like so many others, he had overlooked North Dakota in the past while pursuing an interest in hiking, backpacking, and mountain climbing in Montana, Wyoming, Alaska, Oregon and Europe.
Discovery of the incredible beauty of Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the surrounding badlands of the Little Missouri National Grassland led to a passion for exploring and experiencing this dramatic landscape. In the three years that he worked in Watford City, David hiked well over a hundred times in the North Unit of the Park.
He is a firm believer in the mission of BCA, bringing new eyes to ND conservation, and serving as an ambassador-advocate for the Badlands landscape.
Mariah Lancaster moved to rural Halliday, ND from New Hampshire after her family bought their place here in 2000. She claims, “We felt at home from the beginning.”
Home schooled through her younger years to allow her family to travel extensively in the lower-48, Mariah is now taking colleges classes and is active in Dickinson State University’s International Club. Her love for animals and the outdoors is ever present, and she works as a horse trainer.
Mariah spent her formative years exploring the native prairie in the company of her brother, and is a kayaker, photographer, biker, and horse woman. Her love of the openness of ND’s “simple beauty” and the ruggedness of the Badlands motivates her concern for changes that are occurring due to oil development, impacting the quality and diversity of life. “I feel the area is different and unique, and I believe that more of it needs to be protected and preserved.”
Mariah served as BCA's vice-president and newsletter editor.
Carol Jean Larsen
Carol Jean’s sense of adventure as an adult can be traced to her childhood in “pre-TV” Watford City, ND. School picnics and summer Sundays were spent chasing up and down the buttes of nearby Theodore Roosevelt National Park. She fondly recalls that she was the one who always ventured to the very edge of the highest point and dared to look down.
Years later she returned to North Dakota and settled in Bismarck. She was re-introduced to the Badlands through backpacking hikes, and in the last 10 years, has become aware of the environmental challenges facing the grasslands and the ND Badlands. The words of poet T.S. Elliot are poignant for her: We shall never cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. Carol Jean treasures this land that she has come to know in a different way.
Subsequently in retirement, she has hustled off to Washington, DC for various conservation trainings and lobby opportunities, written letters, made calls to the U.S. Forest Service, raised money and learned new concepts such as “suitable for wilderness”. She believes that BCA, networking with other like-minded groups, can make a difference.
James spent his formative years between Boston’s urban scene and summers back on the family farm in Vermont where he was born. He completed his doctorate at the University of Kansas, taught in Pennsylvania for a few years and was finally drawn to North Dakota in 1999. His strong geology background led him to the unique stratified landscape of the Badlands where he was smitten by the seasonal richness, and dismayed by the expanding oil and gas development.
Dr. McAllister is an associate professor of biology at Dickinson State University. He continues to do research during the summer breaks, most recently alternating between sites in Utah and Minnesota. Current research has emphasized the ichthyofauna (fishes) of disturbed areas. The "fishing" efforts provide a baseline for assessing changes as the environment undergoes restoration.
Armed with an acute bent of humor, the sensibility of a fledgling dryland farmer, and attention for detail, James brings much to the Board, and served as Secretary.
James now lives and teaches in McKenzie, Tennessee.
Native to the plains of Nebraska, Lynn and her family have been North Dakota residents for over 30 years. Both she and husband Greg carry prairie spirits and expertise reflected in horticultural careers.
The USFS Elkhorn Ranch camp is among their favorite starting points for explorations in the Little Missouri National Grasslands.
Having raised three remarkable young people to adulthood, Lynn is always ready for one more walk through prairie grasses or at river’s edge.
Growing up in the western North Dakota hub community of Dickinson, Gerry’s physician father focused the family on civic responsibility and sense of place. In college Gerry worked summers for the Forest Service, tramping the backcountry while doing vegetative mapping. After successful years as a stockbroker with a national firm, Gerry returned to his early love of landscape, hiring on as Field Representative for The Nature Conservancy in North Dakota.
His TNC role procures an active membership in the Partners for Grassland Stewardship, a working group of ranchers, environmentalists, local community leaders, and government agencies that mediate Grassland issues. He has served as a member of the Resource Advisory Council for the BLM Dakotas.
While at home in Glendive, Montana, along the banks of the Yellowstone, Gerry and his family relish their time in the Dakota Badlands where his wife’s family raises horses.
Steve Robbins is our “big thinker”. Often the inspiration for strategies that run off the beaten path, Robbins divides his year twixt Kansas (where he loves his mom), Montana (where he loves his wolves) and the Badlands (where he loves old friends and places).
His journalism and humanities background led to a grant from the ND Humanities Council, and the chance to produce a three-year project: “North Dakota Wilderness and Regions of the Mind”. Robbins interviewed a historical and political range of western North Dakotans in search of the meaning and intent of Wilderness. Presented in a variety of venues across the state, Robbins played both philosopher and ambassador, advancing open dialogue in an oftentimes controversial forum.
A retired Professor of English, Steve helps keep BCA fresh and directed.
Steve currently lives in Red Lodge, Montana.
Mary Herak Sand
Mary Herak Sand and her husband Rob are building a straw bale home in the Killdeer Mountains, not far from where Rob's parents live and his maternal grandparents homesteaded. Mary's work background has included waitressing, library work, mental health counseling, and education, mostly in western Montana, where she grew up on a farm/ranch, the second of nine children. She currently teaches over the Internet for Salish Kootenai College on the Flathead Reservation. Mary and Rob have one son, Chris, who is a singer/songwriter and past curator of the Dunn County Historical Museum.
Mary has seen the way sprawl and development have changed and are changing the Bitterroot and Mission Valleys in western Montana. Her hope is that North Dakotans will continue to stand together to preserve the beauty, serenity, and openness of the Badlands and grasslands; the uniqueness of the ranches and rural communities that exist within and around them; and the purity of the air and water that nourish them.
Mary now lives her life on the southern Killdeer Mountain and in Missoula, Montana where she relishes time with granddaughter Stevie.
Rob Sand is the horseman on our Board. His summers are spent working on his strawbale home in the Killdeer Mountains, with winters on the flats in a small community at the Mountains feet. He is a proponent of hippo therapy, involving both community Seniors and children. His parents are members of the “de Mores Riders”, an equestrian group with a long tradition in the Badlands, and especially Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Rob, a long time activist on social issues including nuclear disarmament and tribal sovereignty, grew up along the big Missouri River in south central North Dakota. He and wife Mary returned to their roots several years ago having spent a portion of their adult life in Montana. Mary brought her Montana association with the Salish Kootenai College with her via the Internet, proving that outmigration on the northern Great Plains is fixable.
Rob is a past president of BCA.
Tama was born, grew up, and was educated in North Dakota. After receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from UND in 1988, she left the state to work on her masters degree at Michigan State.
But, it was always her intention to come back. On a happy day in 1995 she moved back to ND and chose Beach as home, where for 22 years she has had her pottery studio and showroom, Prairie Fire Pottery, which she owns with husband and business manager, Jerry DeMartin.
The prairie, badlands, and North Dakota’s sky define her pottery work. Highly influenced by the land and sky, they show themselves in her extraordinary glazes - both shapes and colors.
Defense of her landscape is defense of her artistry and her home.
Growing up in Sydney, MT country on the western border of the Badlands, Carl came to know the scoria buttes and ash draws of the Little Missouri National Grasslands on hunting trips with his father. Squaretop and Little Squaretop Buttes were often his compass -- with Blue Butte on the Montana horizon signifying the route home.
Carl continues to hunt the Little Missouri landscape, making good use of his skills with spice and smoke. He is quick to acknowledge that going home empty handed does not lessen the enjoyment of time spent in the Badlands. Grown son Erik often accompanies Carl as he has since childhood, and Carl’s influence as teacher led Erik to a natural resource vocation.
Carl has served as both BCA treasurer and president.
Staff for BCA, Jan Swenson grew up with the Big Missouri, measuring life’s passages against a backdrop of cottonwood bottoms. That draw was transferred to the wilder rhythms of the Little Missouri and into the sere landscapes of the Badlands. Jan’s organizational skills combined with a propensity for volunteer activism at the grassroots level, led her to BCA and her current staff position.
Jan lives in Bismarck with husband David, but yearns for her time out west. They boast a grown son Graham who also remains in Bismarck. She is lucky enough to call a little piece of land near Grassy Butte her own, and hopes her wild elder years will bring her nearer the land she loves.
Farm kid Larry Thuner grew up in North Dakota just three miles south of the Canadian border – near the small (and getting smaller: current population is 8) hamlet of Hansboro. As Larry claims, “The farm raised grain and a dairy herd and 5 of us.”
After college at NDSU and serving in the US Army, Larry spent 40 years with the Farmers Home Administration of the USDA and its “next generation” Farm Service Agency. He retired in June of 2005 as Farm Loan Manager for Stark, Bowman, Billings, Golden Valley and Slope counties where he made and serviced loans to farmers and ranchers who could not get credit elsewhere – usually to beginning operators and those having financial difficulties.
Restoration of vintage tractors (he drove his family’s 1938 John Deere in the Hansboro Centennial celebration last July), time in the Badlands and with his family, and biking fill his days. Fitting of his career-life, Larry served as BCA's treasurer and has also served as president.
Ron Treacy is a new face in North Dakota, having joined the staff at Dickinson State University as Director of University Relations in 2006. In that short time, however, he has “fallen under the spell of the badlands, the grasslands, and the wondrous Great Plains.” BCA is fortunate to call on his 30 years as a communications and marketing specialist.
Ron is an avid outdoorsman, hiker, backpacker and camper and can often be found – or not – in the Little Missouri River Valley. He lives in Dickinson with his wife Carol and four dogs. They have a daughter, Chelsea, who is a junior in the veterinary program at Michigan State University.
Known as a “marvelous motivator” and a builder of team spirit within his professional sphere, Ron intends to apply that same approach to advocating natural resource protection and preservation.
Ron has moved on from North Dakota.
Connie Triplett comes to BCA's Board with a wealth of public service. She served her community as a four-term Grand Forks County Commissioner, where her work included prevention of development on fragile prairie landscapes and siting of landfills in inappropriate settings. Connie was a member of the ND Executive Committee of the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation, and was a ND Recipient of the "Building Disaster-Resistant Commuities" Leadership Award, presented by FEMA & NACO after the 1997 Grand Forks flood.
Triplett served three terms as a ND Senator where she sat on the Natural Resource Committee and “worked to ensure a balance between the interests of resource producers and the environment.”
Connie is a practicing attorney in Grand Forks, where she lives with husband Gerald Groenewold. She has two sons and a stepson. She and her family have visited the Badlands regularly over the past 30 years. She is a member of Prairie Partners and experiments with raising native grasses and wildflowers on her own small patch of saline land in the Red River Valley.