More Details On New Washington Fish And Wildlife Commissioners


Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has appointed three new members to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.

The Commission is a nine-person citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). The Commission is comprised of three members from Western Washington, three from Eastern Washington, and three “at-large” members who may reside anywhere in the state.

Dr. John Lehmkuhl, a former research wildlife biologist with the U.S. Forest Service from Chelan County who has also served on WDFW’s Wildlife Diversity Advisory Council since 2015, fills a vacant Eastern Washington position.

“I am honored to be appointed to the Fish and Wildlife Commission,” said Lehmkuhl. “As a life-long hunter, angler, and conservationist, and following a career studying many of Washington’s unique and remarkable species and habitats, I look forward to joining other dedicated commissioners to promote our common goal of maintaining healthy and diverse fish and wildlife populations in the state.”

Melanie Rowland, an environmental attorney from Okanogan County who previously worked for the National Marine Fisheries Service Office of General Counsel to implement the Endangered Species Act for salmonids and marine mammals in the Northwest, fills one of the at-large positions.

“I’m honored by this opportunity to serve on the Commission,” said Rowland. “Conserving our fish and wildlife and their habitat is a major challenge during these times of climate change and development pressures. I’m eager to help guide WDFW in conservation and providing sustainable recreational opportunities like fishing, hunting, and wildlife watching.”

In addition, Dr. Tim Ragen, a former executive director of the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission from Skagit County, will fill the Western Washington position previously held by Commission Chair Larry Carpenter, also of Skagit County.

“I greatly appreciate the opportunity to serve on the Fish and Wildlife Commission,” Ragen said. “I fully recognize that the Commission’s decisions affect not only the well-being and livelihood of Washington residents, but also play a key part in ensuring the future health of fish and wildlife populations across the state – a challenging but vitally important role.”

Carpenter’s most recent appointment expired in late 2020, but he continued to serve on the Commission while several seats remained unfilled. He was re-elected as chair by his fellow commissioners in December 2021. Vice-chair Molly Linville will assume the responsibilities of Commission chair until a new Commission vote on leadership positions takes place.

“We welcome these new commissioners,” said Linville.  “There are a lot of tough policy issues headed our way, and I am glad Gov. Inslee filled the vacant seats so that we can tackle these pressing issues with a full roster.”

Carpenter, a longtime fishing advocate and enthusiast as well as a former boat dealer, served on the Commission for over a decade, first appointed by then-Gov. Chris Gregoire in 2011.

“Larry has provided steady leadership for the Commission in recent years; a critical, often thankless role,” Linville said. “I know I and my fellow commissioners have appreciated his voice and incredibly deep knowledge on fish and wildlife issues across Washington. We will miss working with him.”

Commissioners are appointed to six-year terms; appointees are subject to confirmation by the state Senate, which is currently in session. However, members are official upon appointment and serve as voting members on the Commission while awaiting Senate confirmation.