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2021 Environmental Conference Speakers

Chairman, Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee

Opening Speaker Shannon Wheeler

Chairman Shannon F. Wheeler was first elected to serve on the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee, the governing body of the Nez Perce Tribe, in 2016.  He was re-elected to a second three-year term in 2019.  During his tenure on the governing council, he served one year as the Chairman of the Law and Order Subcommittee and one year as the Treasurer.  He has served as Chairman of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee for the past three years. 

Chairman Wheeler has an entrepreneurial spirit that started at the early age of five-years-old. At that time, he was selling vegetable soup and flower seeds to his community. This grew into running larger businesses later on; which, since 1990, included being a licensed retailer for the Nez Perce Tribe.

Chairman Wheeler’s experience in the private sector and as an individual exercising Nez Perce Tribal treaty-reserved rights has served as the foundation for the polices he has advocated for during his time on the executive committee. These polices include job creation, tribal economic development, natural resource management, and preservation of the culture, history and way of life of the Nimiipuu.

During his tenure as an elected official, he has helped create a day worker program, develop the Nez Perce Tribal Water Code, purchase several retail enterprises, and work with federal and state agencies on resource and land management throughout the Nez Perce Tribe’s aboriginal territory. 

Keynote Speakers

Representative Mike Simpson

Michael (Mike) K. Simpson is serving his twelfth term in the House of Representatives for Idaho’s Second Congressional District.

Mike serves on the House Appropriations Committee. He is the Ranking Member for the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. He also serves on the Interior and Environment Subcommittee. These committees have jurisdiction over funding for a number of programs critical to Idaho, including the Department of Energy, the Department of the Interior, the Forest Service, our National Parks, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Smithsonian Institute.  

Simpson is one of the House’s leading advocates for a new energy policy and a renewed commitment to research and development of improved nuclear energy technologies. Mike has also gained national attention for his bill to split the massive, overburdened 9th Circuit Court of Appeals as well as his Sawtooth National Recreation Area and Jerry Peak Wilderness Additions Act which addresses the concerns of economic growth and stability for rural Idaho and resolves long time wilderness debate over the Boulder-White Clouds and was signed into law in August of 2015. Simpson has long championed a fix to fire borrowing, having authored the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act. Simpson’s leadership led to the passage of the FY18 Omnibus Spending Bill that provided historic forest management reforms, most notably treating wildfires like other natural disasters.

His political career began in 1980, when he was elected to the Blackfoot City Council. In 1984, he was elected to the Idaho Legislature where he served until 1998, the last six years serving as Speaker.  Simpson was born in Burley, Idaho and raised in Blackfoot. He graduated from Utah State University and earned his DMD from Washington University School of Dental Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. After graduation, he joined his father and uncle at the Simpson Family Dental Practice in Blackfoot.

Representative Earl Blumenauer

A lifelong resident of Portland, Oregon, Congressman Earl Blumenauer is one of Oregon’s innovative leaders. Raised in SE Portland, Earl attended Centennial High School.  While still a college student at Lewis and Clark College, he led the campaign in Oregon to lower the voting age. He was a key player just two years later as one of the youngest legislators in Oregon’s history in a landmark session for school funding, ethics reform and Oregon’s groundbreaking land use laws.

As a Multnomah County Commissioner and member of the Portland City Council, Earl’s innovative accomplishments in transportation with light rail, bicycles and the street car, planning and environmental programs and public participation helped Portland earn an international reputation as one of America’s most livable cities.

Elected to the US House of Representatives in 1996, Earl has been a tireless advocate for the 3rd Congressional District. He’s recognized for his creative, innovative policies and accomplishments, and also his political leadership in Oregon and nationwide. He tackles controversial issues and finds ways to break ideological and partisan gridlock with a unique approach to problem solving that brings people together.

He is currently a member of the Ways and Means Committee, Chairman of the subcommittee on Trade and a member of the subcommittee on Health. These assignments give Earl a unique platform to promote critical issues like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. Earl has been a champion for rebuilding and renewing our nation’s infrastructure, economic security for families, protection of public lands, stopping gun violence, ending the prohibition of marijuana, and criminal justice reform.

Representative Dan NewHouse (R-WA)

Representative Dan Newhouse is a lifelong resident of Central Washington and is honored to represent the 4th District in Congress. A third-generation Yakima Valley farmer, Dan brings real-world experience to Congress as a businessman and former state legislator ready to work hard in support of conservative solutions that encourage job creation and economic opportunity in Central Washington. Dan understands that looking out for taxpayers means that Congress must stay on budget and make the government work efficiently to fulfill its responsibilities.

Dan serves on the Appropriations Committees, which exercises jurisdiction on critical legislative issues for the 4th District. 

Dan served four terms as a legislator in the Washington State House of Representatives, representing the 15th Legislative District from 2003 to 2009. In the Legislature, Dan earned a reputation as a principled conservative willing to work with colleagues to support policies that foster economic growth.

From 2009 to 2013, Dan served as Director of Washington State’s Department of Agriculture, where he listened to the concerns of Washington farmers and promoted the state’s agricultural resources.

Dan attended Washington State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics. Dan is also a graduate of the Washington Agriculture and Forestry Leadership Program.


Vice President Federal Programs, Tri-City Development Counci

David Reeploeg

David Reeploeg serves as Vice President for Federal Programs of the Tri-City Development Council (TRIDEC) and Executive Director of Hanford Communities.

Before assuming these duties, David spent over 12 years working for members of the Washington state congressional delegation, primarily in the offices of U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray.

David is a native of the Tri-Cities, WA, and is a graduate of Hanford High School and the University of Washington.

General Manager & Chief Executive Officer Seattle City Light

Debra Smith

Debra Smith is the General Manager and CEO of Seattle City Light, one of the nation’s largest community-owned electric utilities. City Light serves more than 460,000 meters and 900,000 people across Seattle and parts of eight adjacent franchise cities.

Previously, Debra served as Central Lincoln PUD’s General Manager from July 2013 to October 2018. She brought 17 years of experience to that role from the Eugene Water and Electric Board, where she held a variety of positions, including Assistant General Manager. 

Debra earned a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Arizona State University and is a Senior Fellow with the American Leadership Forum of Oregon. She currently serves as chair of the Public Power Council and is on the board of the Pacific Northwest Utilities Conference Committee.

Debra and her husband Dale have raised three sons and two daughters. They love City life, and have a home in Eugene, Oregon as well. The Smiths enjoy travel, time with friends and family and hanging out with their grandson Oliver.

Reporter, Seattle Times

Lynda Mapes

Lynda V. Mapes is a reporter at the Seattle Times, where she specializes in coverage of the environment. Over the course of her career she has won numerous awards, including the international 2019 and 2012 Kavli gold award for science journalism from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest professional science association.

She has written five books, including Elwha, a River Reborn about the largest dam removal project ever in history and the effort to revive a wilderness watershed in Washington’s Olympic National Park, and its once legendary salmon runs. In 2013-14 Lynda was awarded a 9-month Knight fellowship in Science Journalism at MIT. In 2014-15, she was a Bullard Fellow at the Harvard Forest, exploring the human and natural history of a single, 100-year old oak to write Witness Tree, published by the University of Washington Press in 2019. Her forthcoming book on the southern resident orca whales’ struggle to survive will be published by the Seattle Times and Braided River on June 1, 2021. In addition to her staff position as lead environment reporter at the Seattle Times, Lynda is an associate of the Harvard Forest of Harvard University, in Petersham, MA. She was recognized by NOAA Fisheries in 2016 with the prestigious Dr. Nancy Foster Habitat Conservation Award for her reporting on fish and habitat. She lives in Seattle.

Chief Operating Officer PNW Farmers Cooperative

Sam White

Sam was raised on a dry land wheat farm in Palouse WA. The “Palouse” area which encompasses parts of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho has some of the most productive soil in the world. Sam attended and graduated from Washington State University with a bachelors of science degree in Agriculture. He started his career in 1984 with Johnson Union Warehouse Co., a grain and pulse crop cooperative. In 1996 Sam took a job with Genesee Union Warehouse Co in Genesee ID as the grain department manager. In 2008 Genesee Union Warehouse and Whitman County Growers merged their two companies to form Pacific Northwest Farmers Cooperatives where he is currently the Chief Operations Officer. Today, Pacific Northwest Farmers Cooperative has grain and pulse storage in over 35 locations on the Palouse along with 5 Pulse processing plants and 5 seed cleaning plants. Sam currently sits on the Board of directors of Lewis-Clark Terminal in Lewiston ID, He is the past President of the Pacific Northwest Grain and Feed Association and he also is a member of the Idaho Commodity Indemnity Fund Advisory Board. In his spare time Sam enjoys spending time golfing or just being outside.

President & Chief Executive Officer Trout Unlimited

Chris Wood

Before coming to Trout Unlimited in September 2001, Chris Wood served as the senior policy and communications advisor to the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service where he helped protect 58 million acres of publicly owned land. Chris began his career as a temporary employee with the Forest Service in Idaho and also worked for the Fish and Wildlife program of the Bureau of Land Management. He is the author and co-author of numerous papers and articles and three books including, Watershed Restoration: Principles and Practices (AFS 1997), From Conquest to Conservation: Our Public Land Legacy (Island Press, 2003), and My Healthy Stream: A handbook for streamside owners (Trout Unlimited and Aldo Leopold Foundation, 2013).