It’s with great pleasure that we welcome our newest board members, Brian Bean of Hailey, Idaho, and Jim Owens of Mercer Island, Washington, to the Heart of the Rockies Initiative.

Brian Bean
Brian was elected to the Board in April and brings a host of fantastic skills, experience and energy.

“As board president for the Heart of the Rockies Initiative, I welcome Brian Bean to the board and to the initiative. Brian brings powerful energy to private land conservation in our region. He is a conservation-minded Idaho rancher and a key member of the Pioneers Alliance,” said Chris DeForest.  “We recruited Brian because he walks the talk, sees the need for landscape-scale conservation, and can connect Heart of the Rockies with influential landowners, policymakers, and supporters. Brian hit the ground running at his first board meeting, asked astute questions, and is sure to be an excellent advocate for the Heart of the Rockies Initiative and its members.”

Brian is a co-founder of the Lava Lake Institute and co-owner of Lava Lake Land & Livestock and Lava Lake Lamb in South Central Idaho. He and his wife Kathleen founded Lava Lake Ranch in 1999 with the purchase and consolidation of six historic sheep and cattle ranches with the intention of producing and marketing 100% grass-fed and finished lamb while protecting the natural characteristics of the landscape. Their conservation efforts in Idaho began with the donation of a 7,500-acre conservation easement to The Nature Conservancy in 2001.

Today, Brian is working with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and TNC to complete the 10th, 11th and 12th conservation easements on Lava Lake Ranch’s deeded lands. When closed, Lava Lake will have permanently protected more than 20,000 bio-diverse acres in the Pioneer Mountains – Craters of the Moon landscape in the High Divide region.

The Beans established the Lava Lake Institute for Science & Conservation in 2004, a non-profit organization that supports conservation research in the Pioneer—Craters area. The Institute currently serves as the fiscal sponsor for the Wood River Wolf Project, now in its eighth year; Lava Lake is one of several sheep producer members of this successful nonlethal predator control collaborative and Brian serves on the Project’s Steering Committee. Brian is also active in the Pioneers Alliance. The Alliance, a coalition of ranchers, local residents, conservationists, scientists, business people, and elected and agency officials, was formed in 2007 to protect the Pioneer Mountains – Craters of the Moon region. To date, the Pioneers Alliance has helped permanently protect more than 70,000 acres of critically important private land in the High Divide region.

Brian also brings 30 years of investment banking, institutional derivatives and asset management experience to the Board, and is a magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Pomona College, where he was a dual major in botany—molecular biochemistry and biophysics and in zoology. Brian was awarded his MBA by the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he was a Miller Scholar. Before business school, Brian was a captain in the United States Marine Corps, having served with the 1st Marine Division.

Jim Owens
Jim was elected to the Board in May and brings a wealth of knowledge and leadership. Many who work in the Northwest’s non-profit world know Jim from his 20 years of leading place-based conservation philanthropy at the Brainerd Foundation.

“Jim has long been a stalwart leader and advisor for local conservation efforts in both the Crown of the Continent and High Divide, and now that Jim is retiring from his foundation role, we are pleased to have recruited him to join the Board of the Heart of the Rockies Initiative,” said Heart of the Rockies executive director Michael Whitfield.  “Jim’s knowledge of the landscape and ability to help locally based groups engage in its conservation will be tremendous assets for HOTR. Many of us in the Rockies have enjoyed our friendships with Jim over the years—so much so that we could not let him escape. We will continue to enjoy his leadership through the HOTR Board.”

Jim has been a senior program officer with the Brainerd Foundation for over 20 years, where he oversaw the foundation’s place-based conservation investments in the High Divide, Crown of the Continent  and other landscapes in the Northwest. He is a fourth generation Northwesterner whom the foundation lured back from Washington, D.C. in 1995 after four years of working on the Ancient Forest and “takings” campaigns. When he’s not working, Jim and his wife Debbie are usually out looking for interesting birds, improving their skills as chocolatiers, or visiting their amazing daughters and one perfect granddaughter.

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