Massachusetts Fisheries & Wildlife Board Members
The seven-member Fisheries and Wildlife Board oversees the Mass. Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. Members are appointed by the Governor. Under MGL Chapter 21, the Board supervises and controls the agency, having the authority to make regulations, set policy, and oversee personnel appointments. The Board meets monthly and holds public hearings as part of the regulatory process. All public meetings and hearings are posted on the agency website calendar as well as at agency facility bulletin boards.
Joseph S. Larson, Ph.D., Chairman
As the Board's specialist in endangered species habitat, Dr. Larson of Pelham serves as the Board's liaison to MassWildlife's Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Advisory Committee, where he is a full voting member.
Dr. Larson holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Massachusetts and a Ph.D. in zoology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute. He has held research appointments with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the University of Maryland, as well as positions with state natural resource agencies and private environmental organizations in Massachusetts and Maryland. He is professor emeritus and former Chairman of the Department of Forestry and Wildlife Management and Director of The Environmental Institute at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and is professionally registered or certified in forestry, ecology, wetland science and wildlife biology.
Nationally, Dr. Larson has been involved as Executive Chairman of the National Wetlands Technical Council and Chairman of the U.S. National Ramsar Committee that represents non-governmental interests to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance. He received the national Chevron Conservation Award in 1990. Internationally, he has been a member of diplomatic delegations to the Ramsar Convention and has lectured and conducted wetlands training seminars in India, China and Europe. He is a member of the Commission on Ecosystem Management of the World Conservation Union.
In Massachusetts, Dr. Larson has served on the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Audubon Society, where he chaired the first science advisory committee. He drafted original legislation to define wetlands in the Commonwealth and has served on all of the wetland regulation advisory committees convened by the Department of Environmental Protection. He was a member of the Secretary's Fisheries and Wildlife Advisory Committee during the original establishment of the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. In 1997 the Massachusetts Wildlife Federation honored Dr. Larson as Conservationist of the Year.
Michael P. Roche, Vice Chair
Representing the Connecticut Valley Wildlife District, Mr. Roche lives in Orange and is a professional educator. He has been a fixture at Mahar Regional High School in Orange since 1974 and currently is social studies department chairman. He is a graduate of Salem State College and holds a Master's degrees in Administration and Organization from Endicott College.
At Mahar Regional, Mr. Roche teaches high school social science and has taught forestry and wildlife management electives in the science department in addition to coaching basketball and soccer. He serves as advisor to the Mahar Fish and Game Club, believed to be the oldest high school fish and game club in the Commonwealth and has coached teams in the Massachusetts Envirothon. He took a four-year leave of absence in 1988 to work as the Regional Director for Ducks Unlimited in Massachusetts. Over the past twenty-five years, Mr. Roche has served as a volunteer hunter education instructor, a member of Massachusetts' Project WILD advisory committee, and was a staff member and director of the Massachusetts Junior Conservation Camp. Roche provides the Fisheries and Wildlife Board with insight on environmental education issues.
Mr. Roche is well known in the North Quabbin region as an outdoor writer, writing a weekly column in the Athol Daily News for more than fifteen years and having free-lance work published in various periodicals. He is an active member of the New England Outdoor Writer's Association and the Outdoor Writers Association of America.
Bonita (Bonnie) Booth, Secretary
Representing the Central Wildlife District, Bonita (Bonnie) Booth of Spencer grew up on a family dairy farm and is still actively involved in farming. Her 20 years of natural resources training and experience began in 1987 when she was employed with the Worcester County Conservation District in Holden as the district administrator for Worcester County and the Buck Hill Conservation Education Center in Spencer. In 1992, she joined the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) staff in Holden. During that time Booth worked with Worcester County farmers and landowners to implement Best Management Practices mitigating environmental concerns and helping landowners develop conservation and forest management plans for their property. She was involved in implementing USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service Programs to address soil erosion, non-point source pollution programs and administered other Farm Bill programs. Booth conducted Soils Evaluator workshops and partnered with the Massachusetts Watershed Coalition to provide outreach and education to landowners and communities about water quality issues. She also served on the Massachusetts Envirothon Steering Committee, a natural resource team competition for high school age students.
Retired in 2005, Bonnie Booth is an active volunteer as a Supervisor with the Worcester County Conservation District, a Steering Committee Member and Instructor for the Massachusetts Becoming an Outdoorswoman Program and an Instructor in both the state Basic and Bowhunter Education Programs. Booth and her family have been active with the Spencer Agricultural Association and 4-H for over 30 years. Prior to her employment with the USDA, Booth was the Vice President of Investments for Dean Witter Reynolds, an investment firm. She also served on the Finance Committee and Personnel Board for the Town of Spencer. Booth actively engages in hunting, scuba diving, hiking, golfing, as well as wildlife and underwater photography.
Ernest W. Foster IV
Representing the Southeast Wildlife District, Mr. Foster is a graduate of Marquette University with a B.S. in Business Administration. Starting his career as a commercial printer, he is now an established owner/marketing and branding executive with his businesses located on the South Shore. His work in the printing and paper industries taught Mr. Foster to value the scientific and technical aspects of forest/habitat management. Tours of paper mills and timbering sites provided a hands-on education and also made Mr. Foster an advocate for the preservation of open space.
Mr. Foster's love for the out-of-doors was established early in life, with hunting, fishing, and shooting all strong elements of his family tradition. Mr. Foster is an active, life member of the Scituate Rod & Gun, the Old Colony Sportsmen's Association, and the National Skeet Shooting Association and the National Sporting Clays Association (NSSA-NSCA). He is a current member (and past chairman) of the Ducks Unlimited, Minot's Ledge Chapter and a member of the Ruffed Grouse Society, Pheasants Forever, and The Trustees.
Mr. Foster lives with his wife, four children, and three dogs in the Scituate home he has owned for over thirty years. In his rare leisure time, he enjoys casting a fly, training his bird dog, and shooting his bow.
Stephen A. Sears
Representing the Western Wildlife District, Mr. Sears holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is currently developing a former Crane & Co., Inc., factory building in Dalton, creating a marketplace for local artisan products and sustainable businesses. Mr. Sears has worked for over 25 years in technical and leadership positions, primarily within the highly specialized paper industry. He was with Crane & Co., Inc., for over 25 years, most recently as Vice President in charge of manufacturing, engineering, and environmental services. In his tenure at Crane, he oversaw all the energy procurement and environmental policies, and was instrumental in applying many leading edge process developments in U.S. currency production as well as spearheading many environmental efforts.
Active in both statewide and local community efforts, Mr. Sears serves as President of the Massachusetts Outdoor Heritage Foundation, and is the Vice-Chair of the Berkshire Brownfields Commission. Other board positions include the Center for EcoTechnology and the Mount Greylock Ski Club. Past board service includes the Upper Housatonic National Heritage Area and The Trustees’ Notchview Advisory Committee. He served as a long-term member of the Dalton Development and Industrial Commission, where he led the development and implementation of multiple new bylaws for the Town of Dalton. He is also an active member of the community effort “Grow Dalton,” a group working to improve the local community.
Mr. Sears has many interests, including hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation of all types; music; fine woodworking; nature photography; gardening; and cooking. He lives in Dalton with his wife, Maria Cruz, and has three children, one at UMass, Amherst, studying environmental science and one at Union College studying engineering; the oldest just graduated from WPI.
Brandi L. Van Roo, Ph. D.
Dr. Van Roo is a Professor in the Biology Department at Framingham State University (FSU) and is the Board's professional wildlife biologist.
Originally from Rochester, NY, Dr. Van Roo obtained a B.S. in Environmental and Forest Biology from the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Environmental Science and Forestry and earned a Ph. D. in Behavioral Ecology from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.
Dr. Van Roo is a resident of Douglas and serves as a full member on the Douglas Conservation Commission. Dr. Van Roo conducts field research on breeding behaviors in migratory songbirds in the Blackstone region. She teachers upper division courses in Wildlife Biology, Ornithology, and Ecology at FSU and is the faculty advisor for the FSU Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society. Dr. Van Roo was appointed to the Fisheries and Wildlife Board in 2005.
Mr. Winthrop represents both the Northeast Wildlife District of Massachusetts and agricultural interests on the Fisheries and Wildlife Board. He is co-owner and operator of the family farm in Ipswich and is experienced in wildlife management and land preservation issues.
Prior to his appointment to the Fisheries and Wildlife Board, he served 15 years as the Executive Director of The Trustees of Reservations, the nation's oldest land trust organization, which preserves and manages places of historic and ecological significance in Massachusetts. Mr. Winthrop currently serves on committees for the Massachusetts Audubon Society, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Essex National Heritage Commission, and is a Trustee of the Essex Agricultural and Technical Institute. He has also been Chairman of the Ipswich Conservation Commission, Director of the Ipswich River Watershed Association and a Trustee of the North American Wildlife Foundation.