Board and Staff


Gavin Ricklefs
Executive Director

Gavin has been with the Bitter Root Land Trust, in various capacities, since 2006 – initially, as a member of the Board, eventually taking the reigns as Executive Director in 2008.  Gavin is a graduate of Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA and earned his J.D. at the University of Montana School of Law.  Prior to beginning his conservation career at BRLT, Gavin practiced transactional law in Hamilton, Mont., focusing on real estate, water law, and estate planning.  A passion for cooperative, landowner-driven approaches to conservation, a fascination with the details of complex land transactions, and above all else a love for the Bitterroot Valley have been the forces driving Gavin’s work at the Bitter Root Land Trust.  Gavin and his wife, Stacy, are happy to be raising three young Montana natives - Andrew, Tatum, and Cate - in the quiet beauty of the Bitterroot.

Kyle Barber
Conservation Director

Kyle joined the Bitter Root Land Trust in May, 2010. He holds a B.S. from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse and a Master’s degree in Rangeland Conservation from the University of Montana. Kyle has a strong background in private land conservation and conservation easement stewardship, having worked with the Crested Butte Land Trust in Colorado and Gathering Waters Conservancy in Madison, Wisconsin. Prior to finding his way into private land conservation, Kyle worked on agricultural water issues in Nevada as a field organizer for political campaigns and a development officer for Wisconsin Public Television.

Emy Royce

Communications Director

I earned a B.A. in Anthropology with an emphasis in Archaeology at California State University, Northridge in 2002.  As a teenager I spent a summer in Montana, and fell in love with this place and its people.  A few years after I moved to Montana with my husband, I joined the Bitter Root Land Trust as Program Administrator, building the communications and outreach program into what it is today.  I'm fortunate to work every day protecting Bitterroot farms and ranches, wildlife habitat, streams and rivers, and places for the community to connect with the outdoors. My husband, Louis, and I are proud to raise our young children, Samantha and Jackson, in such a special place.

Lea Guthrie

Stewardship Coordinator

Lea joined the BRLT staff in 2014. As stewardship coordinator, she ensures that all of the diverse landscapes conserved through BRLT’s conservation program remain in compliance with the conditions of the easement. She loves helping provide landowners of working ranches, wildlife habitat and water resources with tools to manage the land and protect conservation values. She also coordinates educational programs for kids and adults. Lea grew up in the Rocky Mountain west and has appreciated open spaces since childhood. She has a BS in Biology from the University of Wyoming, a MS in Biology from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and a MS in Education from Montana State University. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her son and her friends, hiking, playing tennis, camping, painting and traveling.


Grant Carlton
Land Protection Specialist

Grant joined the Bitter Root Land Trust in August of 2015.  He is a graduate of Clemson University and earned his J.D. at the University of Montana School of Law where he focused on environmental and natural resources law.  Prior to joining the BRLT team, Grant practiced property, real estate, and natural resources law in Jackson, Wyoming.  Grant’s transition to the conservation non-profit arena was a natural evolution as he possesses a passion for the preservation of Montana’s landscapes and ecosystems, as well as a desire to work towards preserving the state’s storied agricultural heritage.  Grant spends his free time backpacking, fishing, biking, and skiing deep powder in Montana’s endless backcountry. 


Lauren Rennaker                                                                                                                             Development Director

I joined the Bitter Root Land Trust team in late 2017. I graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, earning a B.A. in both International Studies and Spanish, traveling extensively internationally as much as time would allow. Growing up on a little piece of land, riding horses and fishing, my dream was to experience this on a grander scale. I found the Bitterroot Valley and fell in love with it’s vast natural wonders. I’ve spent the last 10 years devoted to local non-profit organizations developing programs and relationships that further land and wildlife conservation of this stunning place I’m honored to call home. I’m just as passionate about fly fishing, horseback riding, camping and working on a cattle ranch with my husband and my young twins, who are extremely fortunate to be fifth-generation Bitterrooters.