Nelson, Robert D. (Deceased)
Bob was born on January 22, 1933, in Menlo, Washington. He grew up fishing, trapping, and hunting. Bob served in the U.S. Navy from 1950 to 1955. He received an associates in science degree in 1957 from Grays Harbor College in Aberdeen, Washington, and BS and MS degrees in wildlife biology in 1959 and 1962 from Washington State University, Pullman, Washington. Bob began his career as a forest biologist from 1960 to 1963, an assistant district ranger for the Umatilla National Forest from 1963 to 1966, and a district ranger at the Wenatchee National Forest from 1966 to 1967. He moved to Portland, Oregon, where he worked for the Northwest Region of the Forest Service as a range and wildlife specialist from 1967 to 1969, regional wildlife biologist from 1969 to 1970, and range administrative branch chief from 1970 to 1975. During 1975 to 1980, Bob was director of wildlife and fisheries staff of the Pacific Southwest Region of the Forest Service in San Francisco, California. He moved to Washington, D.C., in 1985 to assume the position of director of the wildlife and fisheries staff of the Forest Service in the National Office. One of Bob’s most notable achievements was the Forest Service’s Challenge Cost-Share program that provides non-federal partners the opportunity to share in shaping, funding, and implementing wildlife and fish habitat management on National Forest System lands. Since that program was initiated in 1986, it has grown each year and by 1994, a $13 million federal investment was matched by contributions totaling $19.4 million by almost 3,000 partners. This program and numerous other partnerships and initiatives including “Taking Wing” with Ducks Unlimited, “Making Tracks” with the National Wild Turkey Federation, and “Eyes on Wildlife” for wildlife viewing have advanced wildlife management to the mainstream of the Forest Service. Under Bob’s leadership as director of Wildlife, Fish, and Rare Plants, the program became one of the strongest in the National Forest System. That strength was attributed to Bob’s strategic approach to planning and issue management, and his successful efforts to involve leaders of conservation groups and state wildlife and fisheries agencies in shaping program direction. During his leadership period, the wildlife and fisheries budget increased from $28.5 million to almost $100 million, the number of professional biologists increased from 640 to about 1,250, and programs expanded from primarily habitat protection to habitat restoration and enhancement of opportunities for the use and enjoyment of wildlife resources. Bob was honored with numerous awards by the Forest Service and several organizations, including The Wildlife Society’s Trippensee-McPherson Award, the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ “Ernest Thompson Seton Award,” and a Partners in Flight Award. Bob also received the Gulf Conservation Award in 1982, and he was the first recipient of the Lloyd W. Swift Award in 2000, “for a lifetime of leadership commitment and dedication to the wildlife and fisheries resources of the United States.” Bob received the prestigious Aldo Leopold Award of The Wildlife Society in 1996, and some of the comments in support of his nomination identified him as “the perfect example ... that there is no limit to what can be accomplished if you don’t worry about who gets the credit.” Another credited all of Bob’s accomplishments and benefits to the profession to his “strong land ethic - just what Aldo Leopold believed in and stood for.” Bob is a member of Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and honorary life member of The Wildlife Society. Bob was elected to the Washington Biologists’ Field Club in 1985. Bob is retired from government service and presently lives in Raymond, Washington, with his wife, Midge. Their son, Bob, lives in Washington and daughters Laurinda and Katy live in California. They have six grandchildren, Travis, Aaron, John, Gina, Jason, and Rob, and two great grandsons, Joe and Gabe.