A Tribute to Jim Lichatowich 

A Tribute to Jim Lichatowich 

With profound sorrow, we share the news of Jim Lichatowich’s passing, a revered figure in the Pacific Northwest’s wild fish community and a board member of Wild Fish Conservancy since 1991. Over four decades, Jim left an indelible mark on fisheries science and conservation, dedicating himself to safeguarding wild fish ecosystems. His profound vision for a better relationship between salmon, rivers, and communities served as inspiration for people who care about fish worldwide.

Jim was not just a colleague or a board member; he was a visionary thinker, a true friend. His wisdom, humor, and unwavering optimism touched countless lives. His fearless spirit and passion for wild salmon and steelhead have left a lasting impact, ensuring his legacy will live on in the rivers and watersheds he fought so valiantly to protect.

Throughout his distinguished career, Jim served as a U.S. Marine, researcher, manager, and scientific advisor. Many remember his contributions from his time with the Council’s Fish and Wildlife Program from 1991 to 2001. His groundbreaking work with the Independent Scientific Review Group culminated in the influential report Return to the River, which advocated for restoring ecological processes rather than relying on technological solutions to environmental problems. 

Jim’s legacy extends beyond his scientific achievements. Known for his integrity, vision, and ability to synthesize complex information, he guided many debates with his wise and quotable summaries, often infused with his characteristic stoic nature. His contributions to the field of salmon conservation are recognized in both the Pacific and Atlantic watersheds, with his writings serving as foundational texts for anyone committed to understanding and addressing the global salmon crisis.

His award-winning books, Salmon without Rivers: A History of the Pacific Salmon Crisis and Salmon, People, and Place, prompted readers to challenge the existing paradigm and take meaningful action for salmon recovery.  Jim was an extraordinary scientist, author, colleague, mentor, and friend. His loss leaves a significant void in the world of salmon conservation, but his legacy will continue to guide and inspire future generations. His last book, Managed Extinction, coauthored with other Wild Fish Conservancy board and staff members will be released in the coming months.  As we reflect on Jim’s life, we remember his passion and wisdom, which will forever be a part of our work and our hearts.

Jim’s presence will be deeply missed, but his spirit will live on in the rivers he cherished and through the ongoing dedication of those who work towards the recovery of wild fish.

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