Who We Are

Founded in May of 2017 as an Alberta Not-For-Profit Society by a group of like-minded individuals who were committed to supporting the health and longevity of the Bow River for the years of enjoyment it had given to them.

Bow River Trout Foundation began by representing the angling community on river access initiatives and advocating for support of the world class Bow River fishery.

In its first two years of existence, the Bow River Trout Foundation has experienced rapid growth and success. We are outgrowing our current mandate and objectives and have begun to strategically plan to ensure our long-term sustainability.

Each member is elected to a two year term with half of the board being elected on alternating years.

President: Ben Rogers

I am a native Calgarian and have been active in fly fishing since I could basically walk.  The Bow River has always been part of our family’s fishing tradition, with my father having fly fished the river with a cadre of pals throughout the 70’s and 80’s (back then, predominantly in the stretches in and around Policeman’s Flats and Lammle’s).  Once I was big enough to wade the Bow, the time I have spent on the river has been a major part of what defines me as a person. This tradition and love for the river has always been with my wife Heather through her family and has been passed to my three teenaged sons.  It would be impossible to overstate how important the river is to me, my family and my friends, with countless of our fondest memories having been created while being on or by this extraordinary and precious resource. 

With the breakneck growth of Calgary since the 70’s, there can be no doubt that the Bow River, along with its populations of wild fish, insects, birds and mammals, is facing great pressure and is at serious risk of decline.  Unfortunately, I believe that far too little is known about the Bow River’s trout populations and the precise sources of risk to their healthy survival.  It is incumbent on all of us to first better understand the potential risks to the Bow River by advocating for and participating in the funding of consistent, reliable and science-based research and then to work with the communities that rely on the river for their industries, livelihoods, services and memories to find strategies and solutions to ensure that the river may be preserved for future generations. 

I am the Managing Partner of one of the larger law firms in Calgary and continue to practice in the corporate/commercial area.  I am also active in coaching both rugby and basketball at the high school level.  I have had the privilege in my profession to work with a large cross-section of people, ranging from oil executives, to fishing guides, to field contractors, to farmers to politicians, to everything in between and hope to be able to assist in the bridging of those communities toward the pursuit a common goal of preserving and protecting the truly special and spectacular trout and flora and fauna that occupy and form the lifeblood our river and of our city.

Vice President: Ian Griffin

I am involved with several not for profit organizations, including The Nature Conservancy of Canada, Delta Waterfowl Foundaiton, The Banff Centre and Honens International Piano Competition.

I have spent 56 years in the investment business and am Chairman Emeritus of Mackie Research Capital Corporation.

I am determined to see the Bow River return to the kind of fishery I knew in the 1980s. This can be accomplished through cooperation with other NGOs and Government. The BRTF can add value through in depth research of the many threats that the Bow River faces. This is what attracts me to become a member of the board of the BRTF.

Secretary: David Putnam

I am another born and raised Calgarian. I was introduced to fly fishing 25 years ago by a friend who had just moved to Calgary and needed to manufacture a fishing buddy. As a teacher with infinite patience he quickly set me on a lifelong passion for the sport. I learned to fish on the Bow River and although I have chased fish in many corners of the world I always welcome returning to my favorite river. I am excited to help support the efforts of BRTF to maintain and improve the health of the river so that future generations (including my three kids) can enjoy it as much as I have.

I am a corporate lawyer who has practiced for over thirty years in Calgary, mostly in the role of in-house legal counsel. I look forward to bringing my years of legal experience and business acumen to the assistance of the excellent work being done by the BRTF.

Treasurer: Mike Van Appelen

A born-and-raised Calgarian, I grew up fishing nearby lakes and chasing chinook salmon in BC in the summers with family. In University, I dug an old fly rod out of the closet that I had been gifted as a kid, and began plugging away learning the rhythms of the Bow river. Like many of us, I was addicted soon after and have become passionate about the river. You will probably spot me out there whenever I can get out of the office over the summer floating the Bow or exploring in the foothills.

I earned my Chartered Financial Analyst designation in 2013, and work as a Technical Leader, Economics at the National Energy Board. Most of my work is focused on providing technical advice to NEB Board members around regulatory, tolling, economic and public interest matters on Canada’s international and interprovincial pipelines.

I plan to utilize my skill sets to help advise the Bow River Trout Foundation wherever I can. My hope is that the organization can build on its early successes, further advocating for better access, sound water management practices, a solid dataset to inform decisions that impact the river, and heightened public awareness and support for our amazing resource.

Communications and Membership: Jason Villeneuve

I moved to Calgary in 2006 to pursue a teaching career in the field of Biology and Computer Science, but really this was a homecoming as I was originally born in Calgary.  My family has lived in Alberta since the 1860’s when Rev. George McDougall left Ontario for mission work across the west.  His work would eventually lead him to the Bow River where he was instrumental in the establishment of Morleyville and the McDougall Memorial United Church.

One June day, with summer vacation looming, my wife signed me up for a fly fishing course with Country Pleasures in an effort to get me out of her hair for the summer.  Little did she know that this action would quickly go from a hobby, to a passion that would become a large part of my life.

With the Bow River so close, I quickly became enamored with the beauty of the river itself and more specifically the life within it and surrounding it.  It is hard to imagine that we can have such a beautiful and healthy river in a city of 1 million plus at our doorstep.

My passion for the river evolved over the years from eager new fly fishermen into a protective role with conservation in mind.  My hope is that generations of Albertans will be able to share in this wonderful resource.  Acting as Vice President of the Bow River Trout Foundation has given me the opportunity to give back to the river which has given me so much.

Research: Lorenzo Fontana

I am a born raised Calgarian who has been a passionate angler for 30 years, spending many treasured days chasing trout in the Bow River basin.  I have been lucky enough to get the opportunity to throw a fly at some of the world’s exotic fish, but my heart always comes back to my home waters. I am now attempting to instill that passion for the sport and connection to its waters to my two young sons, with admitted mixed results, having not yet fully matched the hatch on that endeavor. 

I hold a Masters Degree from the Faculty of Environmental Design at the University of Calgary, and have spent the last 20 years in the environmental field working to enable sustainable resource development in the upstream oil and gas industry.  Through this experience I gained a keen understanding of field construction operations, environmental impact assessment, the regulatory process and the need for multi-stakeholder collaboration. I am very much looking forward to bringing my passion and experience to help the BRTF to protect and enhance the truly world class fishery that is the Bow River.

External Relations: David Blair

I started fishing as soon after I learned to walk. I spent my youth on the banks of the Bow and has been fortunate enough to travel overseas and fish for many of the world’s prime gamefish.

Along with my wife Nancy, together we have been involved in the fly fishing industry in Calgary for over two decades after starting Fish Tales Fly Shop in 1997.

During my college and university days, I lived in Lethbridge, Alberta and Missoula, Montana. Both areas are veritable fly fishing havens. I spent four summers guiding fly fishing for pike, lake trout, grayling and walleye in Canada’s North before getting into the retail and outfitting business.

What I look forward to bringing  to the board of BRTF is my unique biological perspective coupled with historical and current knowledge of the Bow River system and the issues surrounding it. I am particularly interested in the fishery population (both Rainbow & Brown Trout) dynamics and trying to answer some key questions about our trout and what they can tell us, using well designed fishery studies.

I have a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife biology, as well as a diploma and specialization in Fish & Wildlife management.

I look forward to helping the Bow River so it can remain a world class and extremely unique fishery.

Sites and Access: Gordon Kausche

I’m a born and raised Calgarian fishing the Bow for 50 years. Family of five. We all fish the river. I started a drywall contracting company in 1991 and since have expanded into Edmonton and East Kootenay markets.

I’ve seen the Bow through many changes, from oil slicks, major weed growth, to present day conditions. I joined BRT to help in any way to preserve this great river, southern Alberta’s major gem.

I am looking forward to working with the BRT team and meeting more people with the same passion to keep this river great.

Fundraising: Cameron Merkley

I too am a born and raised Calgarian that was brought up in a family that loved the outdoors. Early memories of floating the Bow River in a military grade raft and a father instructing me on rowing techniques that were easier said than done will always be a fond memory and the start of an obsession. I have continued to fish the Bow River since those early experiences and have seen a number of changes to the river. In the midst of raising 2 young boys I felt a sense of responsibility to insure my boys will have the opportunity to experience this amazing fishery for years to come.

My main focus during the term will be to support one of the foundations main concerns which is the current water management of the Bow river basin.

Director At Large: Jason Noble

I have lived in Calgary most of my life, but was born in New Brunswick where my grandfather regularly caught Atlantic Salmon on the classic salmon rivers that run through that province. Yes, there was time when salmon were relatively plentiful in the Miramichi. My family moved west to Calgary before I was old enough to try salmon on the fly, but it remains on my to-do list. Fishing and rivers have always been key features in my life, and for the last decade or so have come together quite nicely on the Bow.

As an avid drift boat pilot and occasional guide the opportunity to help improve the access to the Bow was my initial interest in becoming involved with BRT. As the organization has evolved and a more encompassing goal of doing what we can to help the river and its residents out, I will continue to do my best to help out with BRT.

Director At Large: Bill Peters

As a director and concerned citizen it is my hope that B.R.T. will be that voice to make sure that the Bow River will remain a world class fishery and a river that can be enjoyed by all. I’m sure hoping that many others feel the same way and support not only BRT but all other organizations that are concerned about the well being of the most important thing we have…clean healthy water.

When I was asked to be one of the founding directors of BRT with a sole emphasis on the Bow River Basin it was a no brainer for me, I have been fishing on the Bow River for about 50 years and have seen many changes that have affected not only the fishery but the river itself. The Bow River is not only a great river for fish but is also very vital for every one  that lives in the Bow River basin. We tend to take this River and many others for granted and that’s when things can go oh so wrong.

I am an avid fisherman, both freshwater and saltwater and have been fishing the Bow actively since 1980.

Director at Large: Phil Evans

Having lived in Alberta since 1978 I have been an avid outdoorsman, conservationist and fisherman for over 40 years. Since retiring from the oil patch in 2015 I have had more time to dedicate to conservation and have been actively involved in many different organizations. Looking forward to working with the new members of the BRTF board and making a significant contribution to this very worthy cause.

Director at Large: Garry Chan

Born in Thunder Bay, Ontario and moved west at a young age when my parents took on a restaurant opportunity in Vauxhall, Alberta. Moved to Calgary in 1989. Married with two boys, one in environment consulting and the second one is his final year of Finance at the University of Calgary.  

Graduated in Geology from the University of Alberta in 1983.  Started my career as a hydrogeologist at the Government of Alberta, moved on to senior technical/managerial/executive roles in the environmental consulting sector, and finished my 38 year career off as a Groundwater/Environmental Liability Advisor in the oil and gas sector in June 2020.

Picked up fly fishing during one of my summer geology jobs in Northern BC/Alaska backed in the 1980’s.  Regained my love for fly fishing when my son Terrance wanted to learn at the age of 10.

As a way of giving back, I have always been active in Advisory Committees (Water Usage, Environmental, Education and Development).  When Jason ask me to join the BRTF, it was an obvious fit. The Bow is one of my favorites waters and I look work forward to working with all of you so future generations can continue to enjoy the Bow River.  

Director at Large: Josh McNulty

I was fortunate to have been introduced to fishing at an early age.  I grew up in Southern Ontario and summers were always spent at the cottage where fishing for bass in the canoe, or off the dock was how most of my time was spent.

I moved out west to become a ski bum in my early 20’s eventually ending up at Panorama Ski Resort.  In the summer when the ski hills was closed, my best friend and I decided to teach ourselves how to fly fish.  Armed with neoprene waders, dragonfly rods, and hardware store flies we spent that whole first summer casting from the shore of several stocked lakes around Invermere. The learning curve was steep and very different from bass fishing.  Needless to say, we excelled at catching everything around the lake, except for fish. 

In 2004 I decided it was time to get a real job, and made my way to Calgary to pursue my childhood dream of becoming a Firefighter.  On a few occasions I attempted to fish the Bow River, but had very little success and eventually stopped making time for fishing altogether.  In 2009 I met my future wife and her love of camping led us to the mountains and rivers of Southern Alberta. My passion for fishing was reignited, and after a few seasons of watching from the riverbank my wife decided she wanted to learn to fish as well.  It wasn’t long before I had her on her first Oldman River Cutthroat, and with that a new fly fishing enthusiast was born!  The more fishing we did together, the more obsessed we became.  If we weren’t on the river fishing, we were planning for the next time and destination where we could.  Fishing has brought us to some beautiful areas of the world including: Northern Saskatchewan, Northwestern United States, the remote flats of Belize, and most recently the stunning landscapes of New Zealand’s South Island.  

We did a guided trip on the Bow River a few years back and both landed the biggest fish of our lives. Since that day it was my mission to buy a drift boat and make floating the Bow happen more than once a season. I feel so grateful to live near such an amazing river that is home to some truly spectacular trout.  The best part about the Bow-  just when you think you’ve figured it out,  it throws you a curve ball and leaves you feeling like a humbled beginner all over again. 

Becoming a member of the BRTF is a real honour. I am excited to be a part of a group of like-minded individuals, and look forward to working together to keep this wonderful shared resource thriving for many years to come.

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