The Board and Staff


Ford Elsaesser, chairman of the Commission, graduated from Goddard College in 1973 with a degree in Forestry before moving on to law school at the University of Idaho. He gained bar admission to the Idaho State Bar and the U.S. District Court for District of Idaho in 1978, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1992, and the United States Supreme Court in 1994. He is a senior partner in the Sandpoint-based law firm of Elsaesser, Jarzabek, Anderson, Marks, Elliott, and McHugh, Chartered.

Ford’s primary areas of practice include commercial law and banking, bankruptcy, trusteeships, and civil litigation. He has been granted a myriad of honors throughout the years, including a position as the former chairman of the American Bankruptcy Institute, the recipient of the Professionalism award and the Pro Bono Award from the Idaho State Bar, former chairman of the Airport Advisory Board, the Board of Trustees for the Bonner County School District, the Idaho State Bar Bankruptcy Section, ABI Programs and Seminars Committee, and more. He is and has been involved with several universities and colleges over the years including St. John’s Law School LL.M. Bankruptcy Program, and the University of Idaho School Advisory Board. Ford teaches as an adjunct professor at both the University of Idaho Law School and at St. John’s University Law School in the LL.M. Program. He has represented many local and national companies and is exceptionally well-regarded and respected in North Idaho communities.

Marc Brinkmeyer graduated from Buena Vista University with a degree in finance, and went on to work as a CPA for Arthur Anderson and Co. After that he worked as a CFO and was a member of the board of directors for the Brand S Corporation, a multi-division, privately held forest products company.

These days you’ll see Marc in and around North Idaho, where he owns Riley Creek Lumber Co., the largest lumber producer in the Intermountain West. Riley Creek has a production capacity of 700 million board feet with approximately 550 direct and 500 contract employees.  In 2008 Riley Creek Lumber merged with Bennett Forest Industries to form Idaho Forest Group (IFG).  Marc is the Chairman of IFG

In addition to the Lakes Commission, Marc is a member of the Negotiating Committee for Coalition for Fair Trade Lumber Imports, a member of the Board of Trustees for Buena Vista University, the past chairman of the Western Wood Products Association, a U.S. delegate to the European Softwood Conferences, and the former president of the Intermountain Forest Industry Association.

Linda Mitchell crossed the Long Bridge in 1977, and like so many before her knew that she had found the place she wanted to spend the rest of her life.  Having been raised in a career Navy family, and moving every 1 to 3 years her whole life, this was quite a life-changing experience…

Linda graduated with High Honors from the University of California Santa Barbara with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies.  She moved to Montana hoping to pursue her graduate degree at the University of Montana, and in the process worked for Alpine Log Homes.  There, she was mentored by the owner and learned she had a knack for business.  3 years later, after moving to Sandpoint,  she became a partner in Idaho Wood Industries, and then started her own business, TKE Vacation Rentals, which she ran for 15 years, before joining her husband, Curtis Pearson, in their business, Lake Pend Oreille Cruises.  Linda’s many years cruising commercially and personally on Lake Pend Oreille gives her a personal stake in the future of our waterways.  She is focused and driven to protect the Pend Oreille Basins water quality and quantity for future generations who, like her, want to see North Idaho retain its quality of life.

Craig Hill was born and raised in Priest Lake, Idaho. He is the owner and manager of the prestigious Hill’s Resort, a family business since 1946. Craig is also the president and construction manager for the Priest Lake Golf Course, which gained notoriety from the Governor a few years back for its management of wetland areas.

Craig has been thoroughly involved with recreation issues in North Idaho, particularly thru his involvement with the Priest Lake Trail Groomer Committee, dating from the early 1980s to today. He is very committed to endorsing recreation of all types and access to public lands.

Brent Baker, who is now a building contractor, developer, investor and consultant with over 33 years experience in construction and development, graduated from the University of California, San Diego in 1971 with a double major in French and German. After entering a Carpenter’s Union Apprenticeship in Santa Rosa, he went back to school and graduated with a B.A. in Psychology from Sonoma State College in 1975.

Brent has undertaken many community service projects, including the building of a 2100 sq. ft. fire station pro bono for the Sagle Fire District in 1990, acting as Commissioner for that same fire district and co-founding “Gnomus, Inc.,” a 501 (c)3 educational research and development foundation. He has also been active on the Bonner County School District Board of Trustees, and on the board of directors for the Schweitzer Alpine Racing School at Schweitzer Mountain Resort.

Brent’s work experience includes the founding of “Baker Construction and Development, Inc.,” here in Sandpoint, where he serves as president. He is also a general partner to the “Brent and Laura Baker Family Limited Partnership,” and currently acts as vice president for “Winter Recreation, ULC,” where his primary responsibility is real estate development. His projects have included light commercial, residential, recreational, and agricultural. His investment activities include a mixed portfolio of active business interests, real estate, and securities.

Darrell Early is the Division Chief for the State of Idaho Natural Resources Division.  The Natural Resource Division provides advice and representation for the State of Idaho on all natural resource and environmental law matters.

Darrell served as the Deputy Attorney General for the Attorney General’s office, representing the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality for 17 years.  Darrell has a wealth of knowledge in environmental law, including hazardous waste, Superfund, and water quality law. Darrell grew up in Spokane, WA and has a keen interest in natural resource issues in N. Idaho. particularly in fish management.

Karen Cathey currently represents the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Kate Wilson, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, was designated by the Montana State Governor’s Office to be our “Montana designee” as an ex-officio member.  Kate was the original Executive Director of the Lakes Commission then moved on to Alberta, Canada where she implemented their Aquatic Invasive Species Watercraft Inpection Program.  Kate is now the Executive Director for the Upper Columbia Basin Commission, a program of Montana DNRC, which facilitated AIS collaboration.



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