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Bill Robinson: Lobbyist for Nature

Washington’s lands, waters, wildlife and people are all better off because of Bill Robinson.

As The Nature Conservancy’s lobbyist in Olympia, he’s led successful efforts to create and fund conservation programs and projects in every corner of the state. He’s fought off efforts to gut state environmental protections. And he’s kept his cool throughout his career, always calm and often with a friendly quip.

Bill, who is retiring after 12 years with the Conservancy, , was honored at a reception in Olympia on Tuesday, Feb. 3.

Before coming to the Conservancy, Bill Robinson served for many years in state government, where he developed his deep understanding of the budget process. He served as the Budget Officer for The Evergreen State College, the governor’s Senior Budget Coordinator under Gov. Dixy Lee Ray, and was the Staff Director for the House Capital Budget Committee for many years.

Working as part of strong, effective coalitions, he helped achieve milestones in state funding and policies for conservation including $100 million for wildlife and recreation programs in 2007 and $100 million in state funding for counties to prevent polluted stormwater from reaching Puget Sound in 2013.

“Washington’s people have always cherished our natural beauty and rich environment,” Bill says. “I’m proud I’ve been able to assist in upholding that core value for our state.”

Last fall, Bill was honored by the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition at its 25th anniversary breakfast, with the Joan Thomas Award for a lifetime of service to conservation.

“Joan Thomas was a friend of mine.  And I admire so much her untiring commitment to preserving our natural places and parks,” said Rep. Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, the Speaker of the House. “Bill Robinson has also shown a Joan Thomas-like dedication to making sure our state continues to have the natural beauty accessible to all people - for recreation, for hunting and fishing, to preserve farms and forest and to make sure our salmon are healthy and abundant.  Bill also knows about as much as anybody about the capital budget. Like many, I relied on his knowledge and integrity to help make my decisions as Speaker of the House.   Joan set a high bar for this award and Bill rose to that standard throughout his career.

The Conservancy is a member of both the Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, which lobbies for funding for parks, open space and conservation lands, and the Environmental Priorities Coalition, which unites about 25 state environmental groups around three or four priorities during each Legislative session. As the Conservancy’s state lobbyist Bill has played a leading role in both those coalitions.

“There is no greater source of information or credibility than Bill Robinson when it comes to the capital budget or natural resources policy in Washington state. Bill’s institutional knowledge is unparalleled and his integrity unquestioned,” said Joanna Grist, director of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition.

“Bill Robinson is one of the smartest and most effective voices for conservation in our state,” says Peter Goldmark, Washington Public Lands Commissioner. “He has worked tirelessly to promote funding for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, as well as many other critical conservation efforts, ensuring that we leave future generations a landscape that retains the wildness that feeds our souls and draws so many of us to this beautiful state.”