The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission has a new member, Dr. Leslie King, described as a “master hunter, angler and trapper” who is deeply concerned about “human connections to nature” and the impact of climate change on that.
King was appointed by Gov. Kate Brown in late October and, following a legislative hearing late last week, confirmed by the state Senate on a 23-2 vote earlier this week, with 17 Democrats and six Republicans voting in favor.
The Portland resident’s appointment is effective today. She replaces Greg Wolley and represents the Portland and Clackamas County areas.
ODFW’s bio for King states that she has a medical degree from the University of Virginia, where she’s originally from, as well as received “master’s level training in environmental health (Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies), public health (Johns Hopkins) and tropical health (Gorgas Institute).”
“These seemingly disparate areas of expertise are in fact linked by her love of the outdoors and recognition of the human connections to nature – she has written numerous op-ed and features heralding the potential catastrophic impact of climate change on human health for nearly twenty years,” the bio states.
An Oregon resident since 1997, King recently returned from working in remote areas of Australia where the Black Summer wildfires and their impacts amounted to a “transformative experience” that, along with the commission’s Climate Initiative, led to her interest in joining the seven-member citizen panel.
“She is also very passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion in the outdoors and hopes to serve as an ambassador to welcome traditionally under-represented groups afield,” the bio states.
News that King could be joining the commission was broken in early November by the Oregon Capital Chronicle, which reported that in her application for the seat, “King views stewardship of state wetlands and natural lands as key to combating climate change and wrote that working with hunters and anglers like herself is necessary to ensure the conservation of those lands.”
Amy Patrick, the Oregon Hunters Association’s outreach coordinator, says she has met King briefly during a Zoom meeting and, overall, is “hopeful” about her appointment.
“She is a master hunter and a trapper; in fact, she took the virtual meeting from the clubhouse of a duck club in between outings,” Patrick said. “During the meeting she spoke often of the need to reach out to those that don’t hunt/fish/trap and include them in the outdoors and, just as importantly, in the funding of ODFW; she knows very well that hunters/anglers/trappers pay the way for the department.”
Patrick also noted King’s studies and writings about how climate change is impacting human health, as well as how King “spoke several times of her need for objective data/science in decision making.”
“All in all, I am encouraged by Dr. King’s appointment to the commission. I look forward to the opportunity to meet with her more in the future to really dive into the topics that are most concerning for OHA and our membership,” Patrick said.
King is the second new member appointed by Brown and confirmed by the Senate this year, Dr. Kathayoon Khalil, also of Portland, being the other.
The other members of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission are Chair Mary Wahl of Langlois and members Becky Hatfield-Hyde of Paisley, Mark Labhart of Sisters, Bob Spelbrink of Siletz and Jill Zarnowitz of Yamhill.