kehne

Jay Kehne on a hunting trip.

OMAK - Jay Kehne, Omak, has received the National Wildlife Federation’s conservation leadership award.

Kehne, the sagelands heritage program lead for Conservation Northwest, was honored for his commitment to conserving Northwestern wildlife habitat and uniting his community in the face of divisive conservation challenges, said the federation.

“From helping gray wolves and ranchers coexist to rallying partners to create a wildlife underpass and fences when lawmakers declined to fund them, Jay has proven time and time again that where there’s a will, there’s a way,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.

“With endless charisma and grace, he’s exemplified the best of the North American conservation model in balancing the needs of wildlife, communities, ranchers, farmers, and hunters and anglers,” said O’Mara.

“Jay is humble guy, not one to toot his own horn, but between his tireless work ethic, skills as a project planner and manager, and ability to build genuine relationships with all kinds of people, Kehne has done as much or more for Washington’s wildlife and outdoors enthusiasts over his career as anyone I can think of,” said Chase Gunnell of Conservation Northwest.

Kehne championed road kill salvage laws as a state Fish and Wildlife Commission member, started programs to help ranchers reduce conflicts with wolves and leads the Safe Passage 97 project for Okanogan Valley wildlife crossings, said Gunnell. He also works with farmers to support post-fire recovery in the shrub-steppe.

“I’m proud to work with him, and this award is well-deserved,” said Gunnell.

“I am truly honored to receive this award for doing what I love to do — help people find solutions around wildlife issues, and along the way develop lasting friendships with diverse groups of people,” Kehne said. “When we accomplish projects for wildlife and their habitats that the people in our communities support, it leaves a lasting legacy for others to follow and continue the process into the future.”

A lifelong conservationist, hunter and outdoor enthusiast, Kehne joined Conservation Northwest in 2010 after retiring from a 31-year career with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The award honors individuals for their sustained conservation commitment and leadership. Kehne was honored during the National Wildlife Federation’s annual meeting and 85th anniversary celebration, which was held for the second time as a virtual event this year.

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