WSCC Board of Directors

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Note: Board member terms expire at the annual meeting of a given year.

Scott Braden, Vice-Chair

Scott lives with his family at the bottom of the Gunnison River basin. Originally a Georgian, after graduating from the University of Georgia, Scott found his way west to the Colorado Plateau to work several seasons for the Colorado Outward Bound School, falling in love with desert rivers and wilderness in Dinosaur National Monument and Desolation Canyon. After witnessing growing impacts to public lands while at Outward Bound, Scott transitioned from outdoor education to advocacy. He worked with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) for five years to protect the incomparable red rock country, then transitioned to Colorado becoming the Conservation Director for the Colorado Mountain Club. For the last six years Scott was the Wilderness and Public Lands Advocate at Conservation Colorado. Recently, Scott founded Lodore Consulting, to focus his work on the intersection of conservation, recreation and the diversification of rural economies.

Scott enjoys spending as much time as possible on public lands in Colorado and Utah, particularly hiking, rafting and mountain biking. He lives in Grand Junction with his wife Karen and their baby daughter Josie Lee.

Term end date: 2023

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Mike Burkley, Treasurer

Mike has lived in Paonia for 4-years. Originally from Ohio, he moved 23-years ago to southwest Utah, where he explored much of southwest Utah and the Grand Canyon. While in Utah he volunteered for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Arizona Site Stewards and the Grand Canyon Trust – mostly with work involving wilderness and energy development issues.  Mike also served on the board of The Friends of Snow Canyon State Park (UT).

After moving to the North Fork Valley in 2017, he started WSCC’s Mike’s Hikes program. These group hikes lead participants into areas around the North Fork Valley that are in some ways impacted by oil/gas development and public land management issues – as well as lands with natural, geological and archaeological wonders. He also spent a year as Chairman of the WSCC Public Lands Committee.

Some of Mike’s many interests are hiking, backpacking in wilderness, and winter sports – and to explore every possible place in Western Colorado.

Term end date: 2023

RalphDAlessandro

Ralph D’Alessandro, Board Member

Ralph graduated in 1964 with a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. He served 5 years on active duty in the U.S. Army, including a tour of duty in Vietnam, and 15 years in the Army Reserve. Following release from active duty he attended Villanova University School of Law in Villanova, Pennsylvania, graduating in 1977.  He then practiced Intellectual Property Law for 30 years for 4 corporations across the U.S. serving in positions of increasing responsibility culminating in the position of Corporate Intellectual Property Counsel.

Ralph retired in 2006 in Western Colorado with his wife. Since retiring he has been an involved community member, finishing 2 terms with the Delta Conservation District Board of Supervisors in 2018. He served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for neglected and abused children in the 7th Judicial District from 2008-2012 and been a member of the board of directors of community based conservation organizations since 2010, currently serving with the WSCC.  With his wife, he enjoys the outdoors skiing, hiking, biking, rafting and fishing.

Term end date: 2021

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Darby Kane Prendergast, Board Member

Darby is drawn to the connections between built and natural ecologies and is passionate about creating convivial relationships between people and their environments. Through his study of ecology and sustainability at the Evergreen State College in the Pacific Northwest, and his work as a wilderness guide in the Rocky Mountain West, Darby developed an enthusiasm for natural history. During his young working life as a builder he practiced the craft of constructing buildings that are well made and honest representations of the ideas that inspired them. The evolution of Darby’s passion for ecology, combined with his academic and work experience, led him to the practice of architecture. As a designer, Darby is committed to the broader implications of space and time and devoted to the details of creating environments that are sustainable, practical, artful, and joyous.

Darby lives and works from his family’s small cattle ranch in Crawford, Colorado where he likes to spend a good deal of his time tending to the land.

Term end date: 2023

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Zach Krapfl, Board Member

Zach Krapfl is an electrical engineer specializing in e-bike design. He has worked for Clean Slate Energy and lived in the North Fork Valley with his wife and daughter for six years.

Term end date: 2023

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Alex Johnson, Secretary

Alex lives with his husband in Anchorage, Alaska where he serves as the Alaska Senior Program Manager for National Parks Conservation Association. Previous to NPCA, from 2011-2018, he served in several staff positions with the Western Slope Conservation Center, including Executive Director.

Alex is an avid outdoor and wilderness enthusiast who is particularly fond of long-distance human-powered travel including skiing, canoeing, running, and backpacking. He is a writer and essayist, contributing to Orion, High Country News, and others. He is a Wyss Scholar, having earned his MS in environmental studies and Certificate in Natural Resources Conflict Resolution from the University of Montana. He earned his BA in Writing from Northland College. You can find him on Instagram/Twitter @alexcarrjohnson and online at www.alexcarrjohnson.com.

Term end date: 2024

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Karen Ortiz, Chair

Karen moved to Colorado, home of her paternal ancestors, after receiving her BA at UCLA.  A lead from a good friend and masters degree in Special Education from DU, led to her first teaching job in Delta in 1982. As a public school educator in the Delta/Montrose districts, Karen used her passion for outdoor activities and conservation as rich instructional contexts for leveraging technology tools and resources for learning and instruction, as well as creating cross-country and adaptive snow-sport opportunities for elementary-aged students of all abilities on the Grand Mesa.

Karen lives with her husband on Lost Mesa West above Hotchkiss. They enjoy a variety of back-country activities and being at home with the deer and other wildlife on their land.

Term end date: 2022

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Megan Randall, Board Member

Megan has called the North Fork home for the last seven years and teaches in the Delta County School District. She has designed curriculum and after school programming that promotes science education and environmental stewardship on school and district-wide levels. In 2017 Megan received the National Citizenship Education Award for inspiring youth to be engaged citizens in their classroom community and beyond.

Megan received her MS in Environmental Studies in 2019 from Green Mountain College, where she was afforded the opportunity to study the North Fork watershed through a conservation lens. Her passion for protecting life on our “pale blue dot” fuels her energy for advocacy work. In her spare time Megan enjoys gardening, hiking, singing, and hoop dance.

Term end date: 2022

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Juli Slivka, Board Member

Juli has gotten to know and love the North Fork and Lower Gunnison watersheds through her work at The Wilderness Society, where she was deeply engaged in the BLM resource management plan for the Uncompahgre area, as well as oil and gas leasing proposals in the North Fork Valley. She is immersed in a lifelong commitment to protecting our wild public lands in Colorado and across the West. Juli is currently the Conservation Director for Wilderness Workshop in Carbondale. A native Coloradan, Juli earned her bachelor’s degree in environmental science from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Term end date: 2022

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Jay Simon, Board Member

Jay has always been drawn to the beauty of our wilderness areas since he was a child in the Pacific Northwest. He moved to the North Fork Valley in with a goal of living a more sustainable lifestyle. He and his partners own 24 acres of land adjacent to the Smith Fork of the Gunnison, where they have a large veggie market garden and about 5 acres of hemp production. Jay’s major areas of interest are in watershed protection, water conservation and the restoration of wetland and riparian areas.

Term end date: 2023