Fisheries and Wildlife Board members are responsible for supervising and controlling the agency, and have the authority to make regulations, set policy, and oversee personnel appointments. By statute, the Board is composed of 7 members; it meets monthly and holds public hearings as part of the regulatory process.
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 was a professional educator until his retirement. He was a fixture at Mahar Regional High School in Orange since 1974 and was the 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 taught high school social science and forestry and wildlife management electives in the science department in addition to coaching basketball and soccer. He served as longtime advisor to the Mahar Fish and Game Club, believed to be the oldest high school fish and game club in the Commonwealth, and 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. Mr. Roche 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, having written 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.
Bob Durand of Marlborough represents the Northeast Wildlife District. He is a former Secretary of Environmental Affairs, where he oversaw five agencies, including the Department of Fish and Game.
As Secretary, Bob protected 150,000 acres of open space, created two bioreserves, and led the Community Preservation Initiative and the Biodiversity Initiative, which challenged all cities and towns to identify 200 plant, insect, and wildlife species within their borders. He was also instrumental in integrating environmental education into the K-12 curriculum.
Bob is currently President of Durand and Anastas Environmental Strategies, Inc., an environmental permitting and government relations company in Boston and Marlborough. Bob served three terms in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and four terms in the Massachusetts State Senate, where he was majority whip and chaired both the Joint Committee on Natural Resources and Agriculture and the Energy Committee. Bob's legislative accomplishments included the Rivers Act, the Community Preservation Act, the Brownfields Act, and an Environmental Bond Bill. He also worked with the sporting community on the Conservation Land Stamp, hunter harassment legislation, and the presumption of openness on state lands.
Bob Durand holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Sociology from Boston College and a certificate from the New England Senior Executives Program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He also was awarded honorary doctorate degrees from both the University of Massachusetts/Boston and Nichols College.
He has served on the boards of the Land Trust Alliance, The Nature Conservancy, and Sterling College, and is currently a board member of the Massachusetts Outdoor Heritage Foundation and the chair of the Massachusetts Environmental Trust. Bob has received numerous awards for his environmental work, from Mass Audubon, the Environmental League of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Sportsmen's Council, The Trustees, the Gun Owners Action League, The National Trust for Historic Preservation, and others. He is an avid outdoorsman and conservationist who enjoys hiking, hunting, fly-fishing, kayaking, gardening, and beekeeping with his wife Nancy their six children and two grandchildren.
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.