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Posted: October 15, 2020

Local honoured with Conservation Leadership Award

The Kootenay Conservation Program (KCP) announced the recipients of its annual Conservation Leadership Awards on Friday, October 2 as part of the 2020 KCP Virtual Fall Gathering that took place as an online conference.

For the East Kootenay, the 2020 honours went to retired biologist and Kimberley resident Penny Ohanjanian (pictured), who has made significant contributions to the understanding of species-at-risk in the Kootenays throughout her career.

She initiated and completed much of the early work on Northern Leopard frogs, and with Doug Adama discovered the remaining population in the Creston Valley. Since that time, she has worked for the last 20+ years on this species, at the Upper Kootenay and Brisco re-introduction sites.  She has also served on the Northern Leopard Frog Recovery Team.

Penny’s work on the distribution of Long-billed curlews led to the Skookumchuck Prairie IBA (Important Bird and Biodiversity Area) designation, one of two IBAs in the Kootenays. She also completed much of the early inventory work on Coeur d’Alene Salamanders. At the time, there were only four known locations and the species was red-listed in B.C. Thanks to Penny’s work, it was down-listed and is now provincially designated as a species of special concern.

She has completed a number of research and inventory projects on a range of other species, including Western Screech-Owls, Flammulated owls, Williamson’s Sapsucker, Grebes, and invertebrates. Penny has also conducted inventory and assessments of important or threatened habitats in the East Kootenay, such as upland and dryland wetlands, and grasslands.

Throughout her career, Penny has generously shared her knowledge and passion for these habitats and species, mentoring many other biologists in the region, and providing training and work experience for local Indigenous citizens.

Her devotion to her work, her high standards for data collection and reporting, her willingness to share her knowledge gained from decades of experience, and her kind and generous manner makes her a deserving recipient of the 2020 Conservation Leadership Award.

Each year, KCP recognizes one individual from the East Kootenay and one from the West who is a proven leader contributing to conservation in the Kootenays. The 2020 West Kootenay recipient was field biologist Marlene Machmer.

Learn more.

The Kootenay Conservation Program is a broad partnership of over 80 organizations from across the Kootenays that works to conserve landscapes in order to sustain naturally functioning ecosystems. Learn more at

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