We love conserving water, wildlife, and working lands, with you.

The Board of Directors for the Bitter Root Land Trust is made up of local individuals that donate their time, knowledge and resources to guide our organization.

Bret Young

Bret Young

President

Bret fell in love with Montana during fly fishing trips with his father. Living and working in Houston, Texas in the late 90’s, Bret and and his wife Susan were keen on finding a place where their boys could spend summers hiking pristine mountain trails and fishing in clean running rivers, similar to Bret’s own childhood. Hamilton became that place. After working for 35 years in the Engineering and Construction industry, Bret has recently retired and is looking forward to working with others to preserve Bitterroot resources for future generations.

Meghan Hanson

Vice-President

Meghan was born in a log house near the base of St Mary’s in the Bitterroot Valley. After attending Stevensville High School and college in Bozeman she moved to the Teton Valleys of both Wyoming and Idaho to work as an architect. In 2008 she started Natural Dwellings Architecture to design custom residential homes with a focus on energy efficiency, sense of place, and building science. In 2013 she moved back home where she lives with her partner Mike in a net-zero energy home on property conserved by the Bitter Root Land Trust. Meghan is a former member of the Stevensville Planning & Zoning board. She is most often found scheming up some travel plan with Mike, running around the country, or foraging in the mountains. She is very excited to join the Bitter Root Land Trust to help preserve the beauty, open spaces, and agrarian culture in our Valley.

Andy Massie

Treasurer

Andy began coming to the Bitterroot Valley in 2001 and has greatly enjoyed the fishing, hiking, and cross country skiing that this special valley has to offer ever since. A “part-timer” for several years and now a year-round resident after retiring in Sonoma, California, he has experienced firsthand how the rapid change in land use has impacted the valley. With a history of non-profit involvement during his time in Sonoma, Andy feels that serving on the the Bitter Root Land Trust board is one of the ways he can best help to preserve the aspects of the Bitterroot we most love, and fulfill the rising need for its services in conservation.

Tonia Bloom

Secretary

Tonia came to the Bitterroot in 1972 and while she has witnessed many changes over the years, she continues to be sustained by the beauty of the remaining agricultural landscapes and intact ecosystems of the area. She’s always believed each of us owes it to those who will come after us to try to leave the world and our community as good as – or even a little better – than we found them. Tonia feels passionately that the work of the Bitter Root Land Trust is one way to do just that, which is why she is honored to serve on the board and make a difference in the Bitterroot Valley.

Roger Gantz

After relocating with his family to enjoy the quality of life the Bitterroot has to offer, including its hiking trails, fishing rivers and streams, and hunting access, Roger is thrilled to be on the BRLT Board and help protect everything that makes the Bitterroot Valley so special. As a local realtor, he sees the value in the balance between conserved open lands and developed areas. He’s fortunate to be a part of the land trust’s mission to protect the beauty and integrity of this “last best place,” so that we can all continue to enjoy those quiet sunsets against the backdrop of the Bitterroot mountains for years to come.

Heather Menning

A true Hamilton native, Heather’s professional background has always been science related, including eight years of research at Rocky Mountain Laboratory through high school and college, political science, physical therapy, and exercise physiology, which she majored in at Pepperdine University, California. Currently, Heather she works at GlaxoSmithKline in Hamilton. After having lived all over from California and North Carolina, even across the Atlantic in Belgium, she is happy to call Montana her home. As a local who has experienced many changes to the Bitterroot Valley throughout the years, she is proud to be a part of the Bitter Root Land Trust and its efforts to conserve water, land and wildlife habitat for future generations. Heather spends much of her time in the outdoors with her daughters, McKenna and Declyn. They can often be found biking, skiing, or on a local trail with their faithful dog Yeti in tow.

Kathie Messer

Kathie grew up backpacking and fishing in the southern Sierra range of California, where she discovered the joy of outdoor adventures. She first saw the Bitterroot Valley in 1986 on a road trip to Canada, and was struck by its beauty as well as the grit and down-to-earth nature of the people she first met. And now 30 years after moving to the valley, she recognizes how fortunate she has been to have raised her two daughters here with her husband Ron, and now to see many of the younger generation returning. She does not take for granted the Bitterroot’s many resources of agriculture, wildlife habitat, clean water, open space, and the heritage of those who call it home. With degrees in Zoology, Chemistry and a doctorate in Pharmacy, Kathie has worked in education, biomedical research and recently retired after a long career in pharmacy. She has volunteered with many non-profit organizations, and brings to BRLT the desire to be a productive board member furthering the mission to preserve in perpetuity the richness of the landscape for future generations, while being mindful about the challenges in doing so.

Tori Nobles

Tori grew up in the heart of the valley, attending twelve years at Corvallis schools. She went out of state to college in Oregon, then California and did not return to Montana to live until 2002. She and her husband Don built their dream home next to her grandfather’s pond, land that she had purchased in the early ‘80s. Upon her return to the Bitterroot, she has become active in her community, motivated by her desire to give back to the community that helped to raise her. She is active in the Corvallis American Legion Auxiliary and enjoys raising and riding horses and fishing, hobbies that she enjoyed sharing with her dad, Terry Nobles.

John Ormiston, BOD

John Ormiston

John is a retired wildlife biologist who worked at the Supervisor’s Office for the Bitterroot National Forest for 32 years. A graduate of the University of North Dakota and the University of Idaho, he worked for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks in Butte before relocating his family to the Bitterroot Valley in 1974. John is very active in the community as a member of Kiwanis, Bitterroot Audubon, the County Park Board, Canyon Creek Irrigation District Board, and the Ravalli County Fish and Wildlife Association. He is on the board of the Rapp Family Foundation and currently serves as treasurer for the Foundation. Always in the company of friends, John easily strikes up a conversation wherever he is. He freely shares his infinite knowledge of local wildlife—especially birds—and finds delight in life’s many adventures.

Jean Steele, BOD

Jean Steele

Having lived in a Chicago suburb for the first fifteen years of her life, some of Jean’s most treasured memories are summer fishing trips to Montana. Her father’s passion for trout and the mountains eventually brought both of them to this area. She has long-loved the valley’s small town atmosphere, which nevertheless provides cosmopolitan cultural opportunities. Beyond the town centers, she has hiked, fished, and backpacked the Bitterroot and Sapphire mountains for most of her life. Receiving her master’s degree from the University of Montana, she taught English, speech, and theater arts at Hamilton High School for 36 years. Now retired, she continues to work for the university and also sits on the Montana Arts Council. She’s grateful to be part of the Bitter Root Land Trust’s efforts to maintain the rural, cultural character of our valley as well as sustain the beautiful natural resources we all cherish.

board member bitter root land trust, selfie

Lynn Thurber

Lynn is currently a member of the World Economic Forum Real Estate working group focused on developing sustainability principles for the real estate industry. She formerly chaired the Pension Real Estate Association, and is also a past member of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate, the Board of the Toigo Foundation, and a past member of the Real Estate Information Standards Board. She is currently a member of The Chicago Network and the Wellesley College Business Leadership Council. She was the 2013 recipient of the Landauer White award from the Counselors of Real Estate.

Sari Kerslake

Sari Kerslake is a family nurse practitioner and a first generation farmer and rancher in Stevensville. She and her husband, a third generation rancher, own and operate a beef cattle and hay ranch that was conserved in partnership with BRLT in 2015. They are passionate about land stewardship and sustainability from growing their food and raising honey bees to maintaining riparian areas for wildlife habitat. She enjoys painting, fly and ice fishing, gardening, backpacking, and traveling.

Mike Bradt

Mike is a native Bitterrooter and a commercial lender for First Interstate Bank in Hamilton. A Victor High School graduate, he attended the University of Montana on a music scholarship playing percussion and graduated with a BS in Business Finance. He spent his college summers building trails for the Forest Service in Idaho and Montana. Mike began his banking career with the First State Bank of Stevensville where he served as Bank President for 7 years. Switching gears, he then went on to manage the Burnt Fork Ranch and their family office where he assisted with monitoring and amending the first ever Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Conservation Easement. In 2018, he returned to banking and joined the staff at First Interstate Bank in 2018.

An active member of the community, Mike serves as a member of the Knights of Columbus in Stevensville, Vice President of the Board of Ravalli County Economic Development Authority, and the bank’s representative for the Hamilton Downtown Association. He enjoys spending as much time as possible in the woods exploring with his wife Dora and his twin boys, who both recently graduated as engineers from Carroll College in Helena.