Dave Freudenthal was born on  October 12, 1950 in Thermopolis, Wyoming.  He earned a BA in economics at Amherst College in 1973 and a JD degree from the University of Wyoming in 1980.  He was elected Governor of Wyoming in 2002; and was re-elected in 2006. Prior to being elected Governor, Dave Freudenthal was:  United States Attorney, United States Department of Justice, 1994-2001, Lawyer, Herschler, Freudenthal, Solghug & Bonds, 1980-1994, Administrative Aide, Wyoming Governor's Office, 1977-1980, State Planning Coordinator, Wyoming Governor's Office, 1975-1977, Economist, Wyoming Department of Economic Planning and Development, 1973-1975 Tank Builder, National Brotherhood of Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Union Oil Rig Worker.

As Governor, one of Dave Freudenthal’s main goals was to establish and secure funding for a Wildlife and Natural Resources Trust Fund which would provide millions of dollars for habitat protection and improvement over many years to come. Today, the Wildlife Trust Fund currently has almost $100 million of a $200 million goal.

Two of the most critical wildlife issues facing Wyoming while he was Governor include the Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing of the Grey Wolf, which had been re-introduced to Yellowstone National Park before the administration took office, and the Greater Sage Grouse possible ESA listing, which had and still has the potential of shutting down energy development in much of the state, and would bring Wyoming’s income stream to a trickle. The sage grouse issue is an example of the balance that must be maintained. Governor Freudenthal, in 2003, formed a Sage Grouse team, and whose work resulted in a 2010 federal decision to not list the bird, but to put it on a “watch list,” meaning it could be listed at some time in the future.  In 2007, with a lawsuit pending over the U.S. Fish and Wildlife's decision not to list the greater sage grouse as endangered, the administration began to map the bird's habitat. Within those mapped "core areas," the state has tightly restricted oil, gas and wind development, all thought to disrupt grouse breeding. Listing of the Greater Sage Grouse as an Endangered Species would have subjected 83 percent of gas producers to new regulations.

Wyoming state government is funded primarily by energy production revenues, much of which is produced from public lands. About half the land in Wyoming is publicly owned. That necessitates a working relationship with the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service and others.  Additionally, many Wyomingites are users of outdoor recreation and hunting and fishing.  Because of the importance of energy development and public use of public lands, the administration formed relationships with key federal personnel and continually worked on those relationships. Wyoming Bureau of Land Management Director Don Simpson said this state is now in the enviable position of having other states look to it as to how federal-state relationships can work to facilitate a broad range of public lands challenges. No other state had established as close a working relationship with the BLM, he said.

The administration also worked with federal managers to allow the state to use what is called “off-site” mitigation for wildlife species.  Due to the efforts of the Governor, companies involved in energy development in Sublette County provided millions of dollars in mitigation to address impacts to wildlife and their habitat that occurred as a result of oil and gas development.  These dollars are held in an escrow account administered by Wyoming Wildlife – The Foundation and dispersed as requested by the coalition of energy companies, various state agencies, and the Bureau of Land Management known as the Pinedale Anticline Project Administration (PAPA). 

By statute, the governor can receive up to 20 complimentary big game licenses each year. At the beginning of his term as Governor, he turned his big game licenses over to the Wyoming Governor's Big Game License Coalition and Wyoming Wildlife – The Foundation to administer on behalf of the Governor's Office. The Foundation and Coalition has continued to administer the licenses for the last  9 years. Proceeds from the sales of the licenses goes toward Wyoming wildlife and habitat projects. Proceeds from the sale of Governor Dave Freudenthal’s big game licenses recently topped $3 million.

In addition to the myriad of accomplishments made by Dave Freudenthal while he was governor, he was always an advocate and ambassador for the wild things and wild places that make Wyoming such a special place.  Dave now works for Crowell & Moring, LLP and is on the Board for Arch Coal.  He is also an arming faculty member teaching at the University of Wyoming.  Nancy is a Federal District Court Judge.  Dave and Nancy have four children – Don, Hillary, Bret and Katie.
Inductee Teaser Photo
Parent Node
Node order