Member Roster

Name Title County of Residence
Ty Churchwell Secretary/Treasurer La Plata, CO
Sara Burch Sampling Coordinator La Plata, CO
Susan Livenick La Plata, CO
Charles Smith San Juan, CO
Chara Ragland Chairwoman La Plata, CO
Anthony Edwards San Juan, CO
Emily Thorn San Juan, CO
Dave Palmer Data Manager San Juan, NM
Helen Mary Johnson La Plata, CO
Russ Anderson Vice Chairman La Plata, CO
Terry Morris Workgroup Coordinator San Juan, CO (San Juan County, CO liaison)
Parker Newby San Juan, CO (Town of Silverton liaison)
Jason Fast La Plata, CO (City of Durango liaison)
Brian Devine La Plata, CO (La Plata County liaison)

Ty Churchwell

Ty Churchwell is the Mining Coordinator for Trout Unlimited (TU), a national conservation non-profit based in D.C. Originally from Ft. Collins, he has been a resident of Durango for 22 years and committed to community. A graduate of Colorado State University with a B.S. in plant science, and a minor in chemistry, Ty took his education and merged it with his passion for conservation and fly fishing. For the past fifteen years, he has been a deeply engaged citizen and held leadership positions on various local conservation collaboratives, such as the Animas River Task Force, the Hermosa River Protection Workgroup, Citizen Superfund Workgroup and Animas River Stakeholders Group. Outside the Bonita Peak CAG, Ty works primarily on federal mining policy and abandoned mine remediation.

Sara Burch

Sara Burch is a passionate outdoor enthusiast who grew up on Colorado’s Front Range and is currently living in Durango, Colorado. Before joining the CAG, Sara received her M.S. in Geology from Northern Arizona University where her research focused on hydrogeologic systems, and their relationships to surface water regimes in semi-arid regions. Prior to completing this program, Sara attended Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado where she completed a B.S. in Geoscience. During her undergraduate studies, Sara spent her time studying the geology of the San Juan Mountains, with much time spent near Silverton mapping the intricate complexities of the Silverton Caldera volcanic system. Along with bringing a knowledge of geosciences to the CAG, Sara has experience working in an underground gold production mine, where she would map tunnels, log rock cores, and test ore samples. Sara now works for San Juan Citizens Alliance, a San Juan Basin-based environmental advocacy organization, as the Animas Riverkeeper. A primary goal in this position is to protect and restore pure water to the Animas River watershed throughout Colorado and New Mexico. This role also involves Sara in advocacy initiatives where she works on state and federal policy, and efforts to improve recreational opportunities and water conservation.

Brian Devine

Brian Devine, MS, serves as the La Plata County representative on the CAG. He is the Environmental Health Director at San Juan Basin Public Health, the local public health agency serving that county and providing environmental health services to San Juan County. He has been in the public health field since 2015 and previously worked on abandoned mine land and stream corridor restoration projects before obtaining a master’s degree in environmental studies.

Chara Ragland

Chara Ragland, Ph.D. is passionate about promoting communication and collaborative action to foster public confidence, supporting community resilience, enhancing planning for sustainable watersheds, increasing recreation among diverse populations, and hard rock mine cleanup. Her professional training spans the fields of zoology, genetics, biochemistry and the social sciences. Chara’s experience includes college teaching, research, and applied projects with government agencies and non-profits on topics including genome evolution, recreational use of natural areas, energy policy, and watershed and endangered species management. Chara has been in and out of Durango since the mid-80’s and has lived here since 2015.

Dave Palmer

Dave Palmer is a recently retired geologist who moved to Farmington to be close to grandchildren. After earning a MS in Geology from the University of Texas he explored for oil and gas in the US. He relocated to Phoenix and worked as an environmental geologist and consultant managing several state-designated Superfund sites in Arizona. Dave has extensive experience sampling and reporting on metals contaminants in soil, mine tailings, surface and ground water in and around former mine and mill sites. He thrives on constructing and managing complex databases of lab results. He expects that expertise will help support the CAG mission and represent New Mexico in the Animas River area.

Helen Mary Johnson

Helen Mary Johnson has a M.S. in geology from the University of South Carolina where she spent her time at the beach studying sedimentation at the fluvial-tidal interface.  Her professional career includes photography, raft guiding, and working in the petroleum and mining industries.  She spent the last 28 years of her career working in minerals and hydrology and as an expert on federal mining laws for the Bureau of Land Management.  She was project lead for operations for exploration and development of gold, uranium, oil and gas, sand and gravel, coal, and semi-precious minerals; project manager for numerous environmental assessments and impact statements; and responsible for compliance oversight and reclamation of exploration and mining operations ranging from recreational gold panning and abandoned mines to world-class mining operations and large dewatering projects.  As such, she has worked with other resource specialists, Federal, State, and County agencies, NGOs, Tribes, and the public to address environmental and socio-economic concerns.  Helen Mary has lived and raised her family in Durango, CO since 2001.

Jason Fast

Jason Fast works as the Water Plant Manager for the City of Durango. He has over 20 years of experience in the operation, maintenance, and management of drinking water treatment plants. He began his career with Denver Water, and after 14 years there moved to Durango. He has a BA from the University of Colorado in Environmental Studies. And is a Certified Water Professional with a level ‘A’ Water Treatment, level ‘4’ Water Distribution, and level ‘C’ Industrial Wastewater Treatment certifications. Jason has lived in Durango since 2015 with his wife and elementary aged son. In their free time they love recreating in and around Southwest Colorado.

Parker Newby

Parker Newby, PLS is a registered land surveyor in Colorado and has been involved in a wide variety of survey and engineering projects throughout the Four Corners region including water delivery systems, wastewater treatment facilities and boundary projects of all sizes. He is a graduate of Fort Lewis College with a BA in English and also has an Associate Degree in surveying from the Denver Institute of Technology. Parker has been on the board of directors for the Professional Land Surveyors of Colorado and is a past President of the SW Chapter. Parker has a passion for the San Juan mountains and has lived, worked and recreated in them since 1980.

Russ Anderson

Russ Anderson, P.E. is a resident of Durango, CO, and an enthusiastic river runner and outdoor recreationalist, with deep personal and professional respect for watershed processes and function.  He is a licensed Water Resources Engineer and hold a master’s degree from Colorado State University with a thesis focused on the role of riparian vegetation on river restoration. Professionally, he works on a wide range of Water Resources projects, including river and floodplain restoration, floodplain studies, risk assessments, and mitigation.  His background is diverse, having implemented numerous water resources projects that span water supply, irrigation infrastructure improvement, water conservation, and fish passage/fish screening.  His early professional career focused on mine site reclamation, water management, permitting, and remedial activities.  Russ is excited to be closely engaged with other community stakeholders in grass-roots involvement with remedial activities associated with the Bonita Peak Mining District to bring the Animas River watershed back into balance with its historic characteristics in the context of today’s setting to maximize the benefits and functions that the watershed can achieve.

Susan Livenick

Susan Livenick is a 4th generation Coloradoan, whose career centered around infrastructure projects with significant environmental drivers mostly in the Mojave Desert and along the California cost, Susan Livenick has served as a Planning Commissioner reviewing and adopting the local Coastal Plan for a small California coastal city, the site manager of a major Superfund site, and a project manager for many small infrastructure projects awarded under a major Federal infrastructure contract.  She has worked with industrial acidic metal wastes, wetlands renovation and restoration, and managed a nationally recognized LEED upgrade project.  She was the first woman hired by the Colorado Outward Bound School to instruct on COBS courses.

Charles Smith

Charlie Smith has been working in water related businesses for over 35 years. He is currently the San Juan County appointee to the Southwestern Water Conservation District and Southwest Basin Roundtable. Charlie has degree in Applied Science and Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis and has worked in chemical, oil and gas, resort, and municipal water industries. Charlie and his wife Amy moved to Silverton in 1997 where they have taken advantage of every opportunity to explore in the San Juan mountains.

Anthony Edwards

Anthony serves as the San Juan County Communications Liaison for the Bonita Peak Mining District Planning Group. In addition, he serves in a part-time capacity as the San Juan County and Town of Silverton Judge and maintains a private practice with Sholler/Edwards Law Office in Durango, Colorado. He moved to Silverton in 1999 and enjoys living and playing in the San Juan Mountains with his wife Jane, and children Paton and Amelia. While attending graduate school from 2005-2009, he worked with the monitoring and assessment division of the New Mexico Surface Water Quality Bureau SWQB. With the SWQB, he assisted in characterizing the legacy waste from Los Alamos Laboratories on the Pajarito Plateau and in Cochiti Lake. He was a participant on the Animas River Stakeholders Group and holds a Master of Water Resources and Juris Doctorate from the University of New Mexico.

Emily Thorne

Emily is the Restoration, Conservation and Forestry Program director for Ironwood Consulting, a small woman-owned business specializing in wildlife and botany research and permitting. Her experience spans nearly two decades and includes landscape-scale vegetation studies on the Crow Reservation and Navajo Nation, river and watershed-scale restoration efforts in Northern California and Southern Nevada, and numerous natural resources and botany studies for conservation and renewable energy projects. She holds a graduate degree from the University of Montana in Environmental Science and is all but dissertation for a Ph.D. in environmental sociology from Colorado State University. Emily lives, skis and runs in Silverton with her husband Dave and Australian shepherds, Iris and Olive.

Terry Morris

Terry’s career has been working in the mining and construction industry since graduating with a Mining Engineering Degree from the University of Idaho in 1972.  His work has been in a diverse assortment of projects (mine startups, operations and closures) and locations (Intermountain West, Mexico and Indonesia). Specific to the BPMD, Terry was a miner/engineer and supervised underground at the Sunnyside Mine from 1974 to 1981, and 1989 to 1991. He was an engineer at the Gold King Mine from 1987 to 1988, and engineered and supervised Sunnyside reclamation activities throughout San Juan County from 1992 to 1993, and again from 1996 to 1998. Additionally, Terry was involved with Animas River Stakeholders Group in the 1990s, and a CAG member since 2019.