Who We Are

Bryan Peterson became involved in human and wildlife issues in 2000 while serving on a wildlife advisory board for La Plata County Government. He has been staff and director since its inception and runs numerous projects and programs. He was honored in being selected as one of three finalists for the Durango Chamber of Commerce’s “Volunteer of the Year” award in 2009.

He has attended regional and international bear conferences in Montana, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Nevada and British Columbia where he has met and shared ideas with the best bear experts in the world. In 2011, he assisted on a non-invasive black and grizzly bear study in Kobuk Valley National Park in NW Alaska for the National Park Service and returned again in 2014 to help provide bear outreach to native villages. He completed the DOI/USFS Interagency A-100 Basic Aviation Safety Course in 2014.

He was a freelance illustrator for 20-plus years and holds a BFA in advertising design from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.


Erin Bohm taught in backcountry classrooms for 23 years, from the arctic circle to New Zealand’s southern island. After receiving her B.A in Cultural Anthropology & Environmental Studies, from the University of Victoria, she began guiding people on travels throughout the bear country of North America. In 2011 she transitioned into “front country” classrooms when she began managing school garden classrooms & designing garden education curriculum in Mancos, Colorado. She continues to advocate for wild creatures, places and experiences by working as an educator and experiential education consultant in Southwest Colorado.


Cindy Lawrence joined Bear Smart Durango as the Education Outreach Coordinator in 2012 before becoming the Education Director in the Fall of 2013.  Over the past 20 years, she has been working as a wildlife biologist for the United States Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Tribal agencies, nonprofits, and also in the private sector for both companies and individuals.  She has worked on a number of projects involving biological surveys and habitat assessments throughout the western states, primarily in Colorado and New Mexico.  In addition, she has extensive experience managing large-scale projects and budgets.  Cindy holds a BS in wildlife management from Humboldt State University.  A few career highlights include peeking into a wolf den in Alaska to watch new-born wolf pups, surveying for Mexican spotted owls in the canyons of Utah and canoeing Lake Tahoe to survey nesting osprey.  She now resides in Buena Vista, CO.


There are chapters on Bear Smart Durango in two books, Living With Bears: A Practical Guide to Bear Country,” by Linda Masterson and Great Colorado Bear Stories,” by Laura Pritchett, both highlighting the efforts of the organization.


John Fitzpatrick
John is originally from the highlands of Scotland and is an avid outdoor enthusiast, having spent many years living and climbing in the French Alps. After studying Construction Management at the University of Abertay he started a classic sports car restoration business in Edinburgh and owned an environmentally-friendly construction company. He was instrumental in starting the Natural Builders Guild and spent two years as treasurer. Currently, he is the Senior Project Manager for Silverpick Contracting and Joint Owner of Carpet Direct Durango.

Daniel Money
Daniel has worked in the architectural field since 1984. He has served on numerous community boards and committees including time as the president of the board of the La Plata County Habitat for Humanity. Working on architectural and county and city planning projects in an area surrounded by public lands, he has a deep interest in the dynamics of the urban-wildland interface.

Rick VanWagenen
Rick has spent more than 35 years in the field of medical device development primarily in small, entrepreneurial start up companies that licensed technologies from the University of Utah.  He holds a BS degree in mechanical engineering from College of Eastern Utah, a PhD in materials science engineering from the University of Utah, and a Post Doctoral degree in surface science research from the University of British Columbia. Rick and his wife both retired in 2011 and moved to Durango where they volunteer for several civic and environmental organizations.


  • KayCe Chadborn, Agritek Fence
  • Tim Manley, Grizzly Bear Specialist, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks
  • Russ Talmo, Defenders of Wildlife, Electric Fencing Technician
  • Erin Edge, Director, Defenders of Wildlife – Rocky Mountain Region
  • Mike Madel, Grizzly Bear Specialist, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks
  • Kim Annis, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks



Tom Beck, retired Colorado Division of Wildlife black bear researcher, completed the first research study on black bears in Colorado in the early 1990’s and the results were published in “Black Bears of West-Central Colorado.” He currently resides in Central Washington.

jay honeyman

Jay Honeyman directs the non-profit Karelian Bear Shepherding Institute of Canada (KBSIC). KBSIC provides educational programming, bear safety-training courses to the general public and supports research projects that reduce bear-human conflict. KBSIC also builds products that minimize bear-human interactions including his self-designed UnBearAble Bins (wildlife-resistant trash containers.) Jay lives in Canmore, Alberta, Canada.

linda masterson

Linda Masterson volunteers with the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s Bear Aware program and authored “Living With Bears: A Practical Guide to Bear Country.” She lives outside of Fort Collins, CO.

steve thompson

Steve Thompson is the North American sales representative for BearSaver wildlife-resistant trash containers, leaders in the evolution and manufacturing of trash containers. He advocates for reducing bear-human conflict via bear proofing of trash. BearSaver is located in Ontario, California.

john beecham

John Beecham has been a bear researcher since 1972. He is a past president of the International Association for Bear Research and Management (IBA). John worked for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, spending 12 years researching black bear population dynamics, food habits, reproductive biology, denning ecology, movements, habitat use, and mortality factors. He co-authored the book “A Shadow in the Forest- Idaho’s Black Bear.”

There are countless other incredibly smart and creative bear people that Bear Smart Durango would not be able to function without. Other advisors that Bear Smart Durango relies on for bear behavior and human-bear conflict issues include, but by no means limited to:

  • Diana Doan-Crider, Bear Specialist Group Member, International Bear Association
  • Mark Ruby, Bear Ranger, Swan Valley Bear Resources
  • Sylvia Dolson, Director, Get Bear Smart Society
  • John Hechtel, Retired Alaska Fish and Game bear specialist
  • Jerry Apker, Statewide Carnivore Manager, Colorado Parks and Wildlife
  • Andrew Tri, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
  • David Petersen, Author, Naturalist, Woodsman
  • Carl Lackey, Nevada Department of Wildlife
  • Heather Reich, Nevada Department of Wildlife
  • Patti Sowka, Director, Living with Wildlife Foundation
  • Lori Homstol, Wildlife Biologist, Wind River Bear Institute
  • Laurie Smith and Tina White, Town of Snowmass Village Animal Services
  • Val Matheson, City of Boulder
  • Kevin Wright, Colorado Parks and Wildlife
  • Patt Dorsey, Colorado Parks and Wildlife
  • Chuck Bartlebaugh, Director, Center for Wildlife Information
  • Sharon Baruch-Mordo, Wildlife Biologist