Biographies and Photos of Series Participants
Biography of Rich Bechtel


Biography of Rich Bechtel




430 South 6th Street East

Missoula, MT 59801

(406) 543-0384

Work History

Senior Legislative Representative for Wildlife Policy for National Wildlife Federation, 2004-2006

Developed and implemented Federation and Teaming with Wildlife Coalition campaigns to enact annual federal appropriations and longer-term, dedicated state and federal funding for wildlife conservation. Drafted and helped obtain $900,000 Doris Duke Charitable Foundation grant to infuse resources into NWF affiliates in five pilot-states to build coalitions to implement effective state comprehensive wildlife strategies. Advised and provided collaborative tools for NWF’s strategic planning process, campus programs, and policy dialogues among scientists. Moved to Montana regional office to advise the five state pilots.

Director of Federal Affairs for Governor Kitzhaber of Oregon, 2001- 2003, Agency Representative

Managed State of Oregon’s Washington office and implemented natural resource priorities using governor’s Enlibra principles for environmental management. Represented governor and helped develop coalitions and funding strategies ranging from salmon recovery to implementation of ESA biological opinions for Oregon’s major river basins. Organized and led national coalition to protect state authority to certify water quality at hydropower facilities and to participate in rulemaking on hydropower relicensing. On closing Washington office, represented Oregon and Washington Watershed Boards and Oregon Department of Energy.

Director of Western Governors’ Association Washington Office, 1991-2000.

Administered national office for 21 western governors developing bipartisan policy, strategies, and coalitions to influence federal law, regulations, and administrative decisions. WGA became most effective regional governors’ organization in Washington, D.C. Worked with members of Congress and their staffs, White House and Cabinet officials from Agriculture through State, corporate executives, local and tribal officials, and citizen groups with as diverse perspectives as the Wyoming Heritage Foundation and Sierra Club.

Range of issues included: appropriations and budget bills; economic development; education; energy policy; environmental restoration and compliance of federal facilities; farm policy; fish and wildlife; nearly every environmental statute; NAFTA and trade; state-federal role in management of public and national forest lands; taxation; transportation; and water management. Supervised staff of various sizes.

Work style using Endangered Species Act legislation as example:

Guided deeply divided governors through refining their positions with federal and state agencies, corporate, environmental, and local leaders to a common ground endorsed by nation’s governors. Created a formal network to address on-going issues. Led western governors’ efforts that shaped bipartisan Senate and House ESA legislation.

Coordinated efforts with the Departments of the Interior and Commerce that incorporated governors’ concepts into administrative rulemakings.

Assisted on-the-farm dialogues among land owners, communities, state and federal experts on conservation practices to restore declining species and their habitat in a manner that also protected land owners. Mentored property owners, community leaders, and associations of state agriculture and fish & wildlife directors in lobbying for additional funding.

Senior Legislative Representative for National Wildlife Federation, 1989-1991.

With president of Oceanic Society jointly coordinated environmental community’s successful efforts to enact oil spill legislation following wreck of Exxon Valdez. Developed coalitions among environmental organizations, the Shipbuilders Council, and coastal states. Coordinated environmental and energy conservation communities during Senate consideration of the National Energy Policy Act of 1991. Handled Arctic Refuge programs, news media relations, assisted in editorial decisions for NWF publications, led training seminars. Supervised staff.

Richard Bechtel - 2

Federal-State Coordinator for State of Montana, 1976-1989.

Directed Washington, D.C., office and represented three successive Montana governors, Democratic and Republican, serving first as assistant director. Managed appropriations process and advised state agencies on resolution of problems as diverse as a $39 million Medicaid sanction and a local government-funding crisis under Indian Health Care Improvement Act. Created strategies and organized national coalitions: to restore $200 million bonding authority for rural states; to defeat multi-million dollar effort by coal, railroad, and utility industries to pre-empt state taxation of non-renewable resources; to adopt flexible acid rain controls. Devised procedures for state to anticipate and affect legislative initiatives. Defended state bond rating before Standard and Poor’s in Manhattan. Convinced five states feuding over the location of a federally funded research facility to form a consortium, led process to design the lab, and obtained funding for proposal process. Represented WGA in developing America’s Action Plan on Desertification for United Nations.

Legislative Assistant for Senator Lee Metcalf of Montana, late 1974-1976.

Responsible for public works and State issues. Drafted and gained enactment of bills to relieve jippo loggers and to re-instate funding for Schools of Environmental Health; drafted a coal and oil shale severance tax.

Montana Government, 1971-1974.

Research Analyst for Blue Ribbon Commission on Postsecondary Education, supervised four technical groups, wrote two studies and portions of final report that were enacted into law; Legislative Consultant and Bill Drafter for Legislative Council, consulted council on effects of new constitution, supervised three attorneys, and staffed two committees; Research Analyst for Constitutional Convention, studied all 50 state legislatures, directed staff for Legislative Committee, drafted on their behalf its majority and minority reports and Article of Constitution.

Work Highlights

Created and synthesized a Web-based system that enhances decision making and identifies common ground across partisan lines and gridlocked economic or social sectors. Refined system and deployed process in a wide variety of issues ranging from design of a laboratory to Endangered Species Act and management of public lands.

Appointed outside reviewer for National Academy of Science study on design of oil tankers.

Represented Montana Governor on trade and cultural mission to Republic of China.

Participated in U.S. – German Acid Rain Committee sessions in Germany and with European Economic Community environmental officials in Belgium.

Wrote The Legislature for Montana Constitutional Convention on reform of State legislatures.

Negotiated for WGA during Treasury study of fiscal federalism and wrote minority report.

Skillful Means

During thirty years of public policy leadership in an increasingly diverse and fractured world, I have learned to develop inclusive solutions to complex, often bipartisan, political, economic, and social situations. I have found that it is essential to build institutional memory and civic skills within departments and coalitions. As a result, I have used skillful means to: Create strategies and coalitions that achieve three objectives: a) legislative and cultural change, b) more immediate improvements through regulatory reform, and c) sharing of best practices to solve on-the-ground problems.

By-pass gridlock in an organization or its community of competing interests by efficiently mapping its principal concerns and discovering mutual needs, new approaches, and unrecognized opportunities to move to shared solutions.

Develop and mentor teams that serve as resources beyond the life of a problem and are forearmed for future needs.

Increase effectiveness of organizations.

Married to Author Yvonne Seng, Ph.D; T’ai Chi Apprentice; Birder

Publication Date

Winter 2016

Biography of Rich Bechtel