David Bechtold

David has always sought to understand the world around him, both the human and natural elements. Growing up in rural Idaho, he experienced firsthand the societal and financial impacts of living in a community whose wellbeing is directly tied to the landscape around it.

His curiosity about the natural world drives him in helping clients utilize natural resources in a responsible and profitable manner. David specializes in many areas of environmental law, but if asked to highlight one specialty, it would be science-driven litigation. Whether analyzing the causes of a catastrophic landslide, the impacts of a proposed facility, or the scientific evidence supporting new regulations, David brings a combination of scientific curiosity and legal skill that allows him to bring clarity to complex problems.

David's success is built not only on understanding the science of each case he takes on, but also understanding each client's individual story. This means understanding each client's business goals and objectives, but also recognizing the communities and families that rely upon them.


Stanford Law School
Juris Doctorate
Editor-in-Chief of the Stanford Environmental Law Journal

Alma College
Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude

Court Admissions

Oregon State Courts
Washington State Courts
U.S. District Court, District of Oregon
U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Washington
U.S. District Court, District of Columbia
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
United States Supreme Court

Representative Experience

Private Forest Accord

Served as lead counsel for the forest sector's participation in the Private Forest Accord. This historic mediation was brokered and personally overseen by Governor Kate Brown, and it brought together 26 environmental and forest products companies and organizations to identify potential modifications to Oregon's Forest Practices Act. After 18 months of mediation, a historic deal was reached, which resulted in the publication of the Private Forest Accord Report in 2022, followed by the passage of three separate bills during Oregon's 2022 short legislative session and the passage of implementing administrative rules.

The Private Forest Accord covers roughly 10 million acres of working private forests and is designed to provide Oregon timberland owners broad assurances of compliance with the federal Endangered Species Act through the issuance of a federal incidental take permit. The application for that permit, known as a Habitat Conservation Plan, remains under development, and David continues to oversee that work on behalf of his clients.

For more information of the Private Forest Accord Process, see:

Washington Trust Land Litigation

Serves as lead counsel in multiple cases representing more than a dozen Washington counties, school districts, fire departments, and other public service providers, as well as timber industry entities, to ensure the proper management of timberlands that have been set aside in trust to fund public services. In 2022, the Washington Supreme Court affirmed our clients' position that over three million acres of land are held in trust, and that the state is bound by the same fiduciary obligations as a private trustee in the management of those lands to raise revenue for the beneficiaries. Conservation Nw. v. Comm'r of Pub. Lands, 199 Wn.2d 813, 514 P.3d 174 (2022). Litigation remains ongoing related to the State of Washington's management of the trust lands for the trust beneficiaries.

Permitting Litigation

David has defended, and in some cases challenged, numerous permitting decisions in recent years. These cases range from timber sale appeals to major infrastructure projects. In 2022, our client prevailed before the Washington Supreme Court in a case interpreting Washington's State Environmental Policy Act as it applies to various permitting decisions. See Wild Fish Conservancy v. Washington Dep't of Fish & Wildlife, 198 Wn.2d 846, 502 P.3d 359 (2022).

Climate-Friendly and Equitable Communities Rules

Serves as lead counsel for a coalition of more than a dozen Oregon municipalities in a legal challenge to the most prescriptive land use rules passed by the Land Conservation and Development Commission in decades. Litigation is ongoing.

Natural Disaster Litigation and Advice

Represents landowners related to landslides, floods, and fires. Landowners are increasingly facing litigation in the aftermath of natural disasters. David has handled some of the Pacific Northwest's most complex natural disaster cases in recent years, most notably representing the landowner in the Oso Landslide litigation, which was one of the largest wrongful death cases ever brought in Washington. In addition to defending landowners in litigation, David routinely consults with landowners related to potential liabilities stemming from their land utilization strategies.

Appellate Litigation

Handled cases before both the Ninth Circuit and D.C. Circuit Courts of Appeals, as well as state appeals and supreme courts. David's appellate practice involves both direct appeals, as well as appearing as amicus curiae in numerous cases that could affect clients' interests.

Citizen Suit Litigation

Handles citizen suit litigation brought under numerous state and federal regulatory schemes, including the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act. David is aware of the unique risks that citizen suits present and works each case to minimize or eliminate liabilities while also ensuring a clear path exists for future operations.

Special View of the Pacific Northwest

Advises numerous Fortune 500 companies, family-owned companies, public entities, trade associations, and private landowners on the unique complexities of doing business in the Pacific Northwest. David finds the search for proactive solutions to ensure the vitality of future operations to be one of the most rewarding aspects of his job.

Contamination Site Litigation and Advice

Represents clients in numerous contaminated property disputes, including three of the Pacific Northwest's largest CERCLA (superfund) sites—Pasco Sanitary Landfill, Portland Harbor, and Lower Duwamish Waterway. David has also handled numerous smaller contaminated sites including gas stations, dry cleaners, agricultural facilities, and forest product mills.

Insurance Coverage Litigation

Represents clients seeking insurance coverage for environmental claims. David works with NRL's insurance recovery team to maximize the coverage available to clients facing damages related to environmental harm. His work has included second chairing a major environmental insurance trial in federal court which resulted in the establishment of the Marine Group line of cases that has assisted policyholders across Oregon access insurance proceeds. David has worked with numerous industrial, agricultural, maritime, and forest products companies to review and optimize their environmental insurance coverage for historic liabilities.

Contact David

1500 SW First Ave, Suite 985
Portland, OR 97201

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