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NW Fishletter #257, February 9, 2009

[6] Lohn Resigns As Regional NOAA Fisheries Administrator

Bob Lohn has resigned his position as regional NOAA Fisheries head, effective Jan. 20. He served there since 2001, appointed by the Secretary of Commerce, and has led the agency through litigation of several Columbia River salmon plans, the last of which will be decided sometime this spring.

Deputy Regional Director Barry Thom will serve as acting regional administrator until a new name is announced.

The Northwest region is the only one of the six regions in the country where the regional administrator's position is a political appointment.

NOAA spokesman Brian Gorman said Lohn may resurface in some capacity at NOAA. He also said Lohn has had discussions with the Obama transition team about taking the Northwest regional administrator's position out of the political arena.

But despite Lohn's lobbying, the position remains a political appointment and plenty of Northwest policy folks are jockeying for the job.

It was reported that some interested in the position include: Lorri Bodi, BPA senior policy analyst, Donna Darm, head of the Northwest regional NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources; Bruce Suzumoto, head of NOAA Fisheries' hydro division in Portland; Curt Smitch, retired head of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and one-time chair of the Pacific Salmon Commission; Bob Turner, one-time head of WDFW, now a NOAA staffer; Ed Bowles of ODFW; Tom Karier, a Washington representative to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council; and attorney Mark Stermitz, who represents the state of Montana in the current BiOp litigation.

Sources also said that Washington Sen. Patty Murray (D) will have the last word in picking the next regional head.

Lohn served as head of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council's fish and wildlife division before moving to NOAA Fisheries, and served as the council's general counsel from 1987 to 1994. He also ran BPA's fish and wildlife division.

A native of Montana, Lohn attended Harvard University, served as an officer in the Navy, then returned to earn a law degree from the University of Montana. Following graduation, he became counsel for the Governor of Montana and taught law at the University of Georgia, before becoming chief of the legal staff in San Francisco at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He later practiced law in the Bay area, before heading north to work for the Power Council in 1987. -B. R.

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