Executive Committee

Barker Fariss, PhD

Interim Executive Director

Barker Fariss is an expert in the interpretation and implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act, National Historic Preservation Act, Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), and other regulatory statutes. Prior to joining CEMML, he served as associate vice president for Indigenous Engagement at AECOM, a global infrastructure consulting firm, where he led the Office of Native Sovereign and Tribal Relations in the Americas. He previously served as a tribal historic preservation officer for the Osage Nation in Oklahoma; as the NAGPRA coordinator and faculty in the Anthropology Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst; and as a lead state archaeologist for Hawaii’s Historic Preservation Division. Barker is an experienced project manager who has designed and led dozens of archaeological excavations and surveys; conducted ethnographic studies and oral histories with Indigenous communities in North and South America; and coordinated the repatriation of hundreds of ancestors. Barker is originally from Oklahoma, where his family is enrolled with the Western Band Cherokee Nation. He holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Bill Sprouse, Assistant Director for the Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands (CEMML)

Bill Sprouse

Assistant Director

Bill Sprouse joined the CEMML team in 1994 as a Database Analyst after having worked five years for the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Construction Engineering Research Laboratories. Sprouse’s experience includes inventory and monitoring data management, application development, database development, natural resources, threatened and endangered species, environmental compliance, GIS, Range and Training Land Assessment (RTLA), Land Rehabilitation and Maintenance (LRAM) and wildland fire management. As Principal Investigator he has managed various projects within the Air Force, Army, Army National Guard and the National Park Service. His work currently focuses on projects that support wildland fire management in the Department of Defense. As Assistant Director, Sprouse assists the executive team in developing, implementing, and upholding organization principals and guidelines. He holds a master’s degree in Forest Science from the University of Illinois.

Steve Mechels

Assistant Director

Steve Mechels is originally from Montana and has a variety of experiences, in the military, environmental and natural resource management. He served in uniform as an Army helicopter pilot and trainer for 10 years. After leaving the military, Steve taught high school biology for 8 years. Following his teaching career, he took a job in the Kansas Army National Guard Environmental office for eight years where he managed National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Natural and Cultural Resources, ISO 14000 (Environmental Management Systems) and Integrated Pest Management. Although most of his experience has been working with the Army, he has also had experience working NEPA issues with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the United State Forest Service (USFS), The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the United States Air Force (USAF). Prior to accepting the position of Assistant Director at CEMML, Mechels was the Senior Training Land Manager/ITAM Program Manager at the National Guard Bureau for 14 years. Mechels holds a BS in Agronomy, an MS in Environmental Policy and Management, and graduate certificates in both NEPA and Military Lands Management.