Second Named To WDFW Commission

Another new Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission member has been officially announced, confirming weekend rumors.

Lorna Smith, the executive director of Western Wildlife Outreach and a Port Townsend resident, was appointed to the citizen panel by Governor Jay Inslee, according to a list of recent gubernatorial appointments.


She joins fellow new appointee Dr. Fred Koontz of Duvall for six-year terms on the board that oversees WDFW policies and she brings a background in Washington carnivore, coexistence, conservation, ESA and habitat issues.

Smith’s bio at Western Wildlife Outreach describes her and husband Darrell as “a wildlife biologist/ecologist team and have spent their careers working on wetlands, streams, watershed, ecosystem and wildlife habitat issues, as well as endangered species management. We have both had a lifelong interest and experience in large carnivores. Darrell serves as a volunteer wildlife biologist, scientist and large carnivore specialist for WWO. Lorna has both headed up and served on the Board of Directors of a number of NW environmental organizations and has over 30 years of experience managing large conservation projects and campaigns, directing staff and over-seeing large scale contracts. She is experienced at building coalitions and fund-raising.”

Koontz also worked on wildlife and conservation issues over three-plus decades, including as vice president of field conservation at Seattleā€™s Woodland Park Zoo, where he retired in 2017.

Koontz replaced Bob Kehoe, president of a Seattle-based commercial fishing vessel organization, while Lorna Smith steps into the seat of longtime commissioner and one-time chair Brad Smith of Bellingham.

Kehoe and Brad Smith’s terms expired at the end of 2020.

So did that of the “Fishing magician,” Dave Graybill, but a replacement for the Leavenworth resident has not been named yet.

Meanwhile, the term of Chair Larry Carpenter of Mount Vernon also officially expired last Halloween, but he has remained on board.

What bears very close watching is that the chair and vice chair are elected at the first major commission meeting of odd-numbered years. The current vice chair is Barbara Baker of Olympia.

Certainly the commission has had many and varied voices over the decades, but the combination of Lorna Smith and Koontz joining the panel at the same time gave several hunting and fishing sources serious pause this weekend.

In a sense, the duo also echo Inslee’s increasing willingness at the behest of mostly out-of-state environmental groups to step into the commission’s wheelhouse on predator issues in recent years, including most notably with directives on cougar and wolf management.

On the flip side, there’s been an effort to expand WDFW’s tent, per se, and bring in new allies beyond license-buying anglers and hunters in support of the agency’s overall missions and budget needs.

Both new commissioners were going to be named last week, but only Koontz was, with his name first appearing on WDFW’s website for the panel over New Year’s. Then this morning the governor’s recent Appointments page listed them both.