Board Members

The Frederick County Forest Conservancy District Board consist of an executive secretary (DNR District Forester) and volunteers from the county who have shown interest and knowledge in forestry and have been approved by the executive secretary and the Maryland State Forester. To contact a volunteer board members, please use the Contact us link.

Dakota Durcho, Executive Secretary

Forester, Maryland Forest Service

Contact information is on the Home page

The Executive Secretary is responsible for organizing and taking meeting minutes at the monthly Forestry Board meeting. He also can provide guidance.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MD DNR) has appointed Durcho to the position of Executive Secretary for the Frederick County Forestry Board, starting January 1, 2022. Durcho holds a degree in Forestry Management from Pennsylvania State University. He worked out of the Annapolis headquarters as the Chesapeake Watershed Forester, where he completed State-wide Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping projects, database management, forest data inventory, and tree plantings until he was assigned to the Monocacy Watershed where he initiated an Agroforestry Showcase. As Wildland Firefighter, Durcho helped extinguish massive burns in Colorado, South Dakota, Idaho, and California.

Volunteer Members

Sonia Demiray, Chair

With a lifelong dedication to the environment and the conservation of natural places and resources, Sonia has worked for decades to restore and protect the integrity of forest ecosystems through public information & education campaigns and by actively organizing and participating in hands-on plantings. As the FCFCDB chair, she uses her passion for the beauty, diversity, and nurturing essence of trees to support afforestation and engage the community. A communications strategist by profession, she develops outreach programs and articles to engage and inform the public about trees, their health, attributes, drawdown, afforestation, good stewardship, and forest conservation with the Frederick County Forestry Board. Sonia is licensed in Sciences of Information by the Universidad Complutense (Madrid, Spain), certified in strategic planning by McCann-Erickson Worldwide, and holds a Masters in Mass Communications from Towson University (Baltimore).

James Arnold, Vice-Chair

Having bought an abandoned corn field in the 1980s, Jim has worked to foster a relationship with the land through planting trees. Initially, the tree planting was a mere six acres managed under the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) on land designated by the US Department of Agriculture as highly erodible. Additional tree planting and natural regeneration has been allowed so that most of the fields are now reforested. Observing the changes in the flora and fauna as the land has transitioned from traditional monoculture agriculture to forest has been an incredible opportunity. But also realizing that forest products are an essential part of forest management, Jim has made a commitment to ensuring landowners are aware of sustainable management practices, ensuring future generations of both environmental improvements as well as income. As a hobby woodworker, Jim has plans to use some of the future harvest in several projects. As a beekeeper, he also sees the benefits of numerous hardwoods and their ability to produce nectar. Future plans include incorporating alternative forest products and creating a food forest.

Mike Kay, Treasurer

Mike Kay has supported forestry and conservation in Frederick County for over 35 years as the Maryland DNR forester for the county. Now in retirement, he continues to support the board with Big Tree Measuring, writing Nature Notes articles and doing logging site exams. He is a Maryland Registered Professional Forester and is a Certified Arborist from the International Society of Arboriculture. Mike was named the National Tree Farm Inspector of the Year in 2020.

Read more about Mike's career.

Tom Anderson

Tom Anderson has served on the Forestry Board for over 29 years, contributing with his experience as a former environmental scientist, including conducting evaluations of the use of trees for improving and maintaining the purity of our soil and water resources. Tom has completed training in the Maryland Forest Conservation Act and in Forest Management with the University of Maryland. In 2017 Tom earned a cybersecurity degree and pursuing a follow-on college program in computer science -information systems. Tom is a member of the Frederick County Sustainability Commission and operates a certified Tree Farm. Tom won the the prestigious Mel Noland Award in 2020. Read about Tom's accomplishment in the Frederick News Post.

Dave Hunter

David loves being outdoors in forests and natural settings and working with young people. He currently works for Baltimore Yearly Meetings Quaker summer camping programs as the camp property manager where he coordinates the management of nearly 1000 acres of primarily forested land in Maryland and Virginia. He has also worked as a camp director and school teacher. He is passionate about preserving forests and offering young people opportunities to understand the importance of forested land and sustainable land use to future generations.

Jeremy Murphy

Jeremy went to Penn State University and graduated with a bachelor degree in Forestry Management. While attending PSU he worked in the forestry extension office and compiled the statistic for the quarterly Timber Market Report for 3 years as well as other projects for the late Dr. Jim Finley.

After graduating Jeremy began working for the National Park Service where he worked for 22 years before moving to his current position as a Senior Special Agent with the Department of the Interior. Prior to the current position he served as the Regional Chief Ranger for the National Capitol Region overseeing the regional law enforcement, wildland fire, structural fire, EMS, and safety programs. Before that Jeremy was the Chief Ranger for Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historical Site, and Monocacy National Battlefield. He was also a Law Enforcement Ranger at Catoctin Mountain Park, Harpers Ferry NHP, and Delaware Watergap NRA. He served as one of the lead Planning Section Chiefs on the NPS Eastern Type 2 Incident Management Team from 2011 – 2016 and while Regional Chief he assisted in the oversight, management, and deployments of the Team.

Jeremy is an outdoor enthusiast who enjoys hiking, hunting, and anything with his wife and 3 children. If it is snowing outside he can be found out at the local Ski mountain or if it’s warmer on a relaxing lake or a stretch of whitewater.

Vincent Perrotta

With an education degree from the Univ. of MD in Industrial Technology and 30+ years of sales in veterinary, medical and electronics, Vincent joined the Board in 2013. Excited about spending as much time as possible outdoors in the woods, vineyard, and garden, he hopes to impart the same to others in the community. Vincent and his wife live at Worman's Mill in Frederick on property that has been deeded to the Maryland Environmental Trust.

Bruce Phillips

My interest in trees started during the summer of 1964 when I was working for C.W. Stewart & Co. while at the Univ. of Md. It was a summer job during the break and included selling bare root trees and shrubs door to door. Sales included a free landscape design if you purchased the plant material. Hard sell, but I learned a lot about design and plant material. After graduating I took a job offer working for TREEMASTERS, a tree care company in the Washington D.C. metro area. Here I cared for thousands of trees during my 12-year stay.

After seeing progress in the landscape industry, I changed careers and worked for Chapel Valley Landscape Co. There I oversaw hundreds of commercial job sites and scheduled the planting of thousands of trees and shrubs over a 15-year period. Wanting to know more about trees in the nursery, I changed companies and worked for J.H. Burton & Sons, a nursery, garden center, and landscape company. There I sold thousands of trees and shrubs to the commercial industry as well as to the private sector. This rounded out my knowledge of growing and caring for trees and other plant material.

Staying with my interest in trees, I purchased TREEMASTERS after the owner decided to retire. This is the same company I worked for after college. After expanding the company to 40 employees, we had four arborist providing tree care in the Baltimore, Washington D.C., Virginia areas. During this 12-year period we cared for many commercial and residential properties with magnificent trees. While working in the tree and landscape industries, I also planted hundreds of trees and shrubs on my own property’s. Trees have been part of my life for the past fifty years and will always be part of my family.

Now in retirement I've decided to stay involved in the forest by volunteering on the Forest Conservancy District Board in Frederick County.

Drake Russell

Drake has 33 acres of trees on his property. He became a Maryland Woodland Steward in 2018 and join the forestry board soon after.

Keith Schoonover

Keith, the owner of a sawmill that sits on an old dairy farm near Jefferson, was interviewed by the Frederick News-Post. Over the years, Keith has built a reputation as someone who likes trees and knows what to do with them. Now, many tree removal companies and other people in the area call Schoonover when they come across a big piece of timber in danger of ending up on the burn pile.

Read the full 2011 FNP article: Sawmill owner puts trees on display