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William Stelle


William Stelle joined the Washington Water Trust as a member of the Board and as senior advisor to the Executive Director in 2018. Will has been involved with natural resource issues throughout his career. He specialized in marine resource law at the University of Washington, University of Maine and Dalhousie University, and then spent more than a decade in Washington D.C. in a variety of legislative and executive branch roles. He served with the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, and then as general counsel for the House Fish and Wildlife Subcommittee and chief counsel for the House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee. Will later moved to the Executive branch as special assistant to then Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt to develop the Northwest Forest Plan, and then shifted to the the White House to referee interdepartmental issues and priorities for natural resources policy and budgets.

Will moved to the Puget Sound Region in 1993 and served two tours of duty as Regional Administrator of NOAA Fisheries from 1993-2000 and later from 2009-2017, where he oversaw the listings of salmon populations under the ESA and the creation and implementation of a comprehensive ESA salmon recovery program coastwide encompassing reforms in the four “Hs” of habitat, harvest, hatcheries and hydropower –  involving multiple other federal agencies, tribal governments, state and local governments and a variety of private sector entities. In these capacities, Will has been deeply involved with a wide array of water, flow and aquatic resource issues in California and the PNW. Will and his wife Claudia Stelle have four grown sons