John Palensky believed that water of sufficient quantity and quality is necessary not only to ensure the viability of endemic species of fish and wildlife, but also to sustain the quality of life that characterizes the Pacific Northwest.
John’s career focused on restoring Columbia Basin salmon populations. Responsible for developing a collaborative fish and wildlife program at the Bonneville Power Administration, he worked to minimize power generation impacts to salmon and wildlife. Under his guidance, the Columbia River Fish and Wildlife Program grew enormously and has become the largest, most complex rehabilitation effort undertaken in the world.
John was a devoted member of the board of WaterWatch. Recently enshrined into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, John was an avid fisherman whether fishing for salmon and steelhead or fly fishing for trout. Above all else, he enjoyed fishing with his friends and family. He also enjoyed birding, gardening and traveling, particularly in the northwest and Alaska.
John was a leader who inspired passion, perception and progress in restoring the Columbia Basin’s legendary salmon runs and fisheries. This award memorializes John’s personal and professional contributions and his river conservation vision for the Columbia River and its tributaries.