Professor Stephen Bechtel

Engineer, Billionaire


Stephen E. Bechtel, Professor and Graduate Studies Chair at Ohio State, joined the faculty in 1983 upon earning a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at UCal-Berkeley. He also holds a B.S. in engineering science from Michigan in 1979, Steve's research interests include computer modeling of industrial polymer processing, continuum mechanics, viscoelastic fluid flow, free surface flows and instability mechanisms characterization of industrial and agricultural materials.

Published 2:15 a.m. PST Monday, March 10, 2003
One of the world's richest men wants some of his money to go to the dogs.
A nonprofit group headed by retired billionaire industrialist Stephen D. Bechtel Jr. plans to help establish 330 acres outside Lincoln as wetlands for wildlife habitat -- and a site to train hunting dogs.

Bechtel is the former chief executive officer of the San Francisco-based multinational engineering and construction firm that bears the family name. He also began the California Conservation Fund, which owns the rice lands where the project is planned.

His son, Gary, 52, said he and his father are hunters who have a great interest in training hunting dogs.

"It is a passion," Gary Bechtel said.

He said he has had dogs as pets all his life but developed an interest in hunting dogs about five years ago.

He and his father have sought property for such a wetlands project, which would establish ponds and other habitat for wildlife, including ducks and geese, along with sites to train hunting dogs.

"It's a commitment to conservation," Gary Bechtel said. "We've been searching for a while for land where we could do this."

He said some property owners in western Placer County mistakenly believed that the interest of the Bechtels in the land meant a major construction project would follow.

Forbes Magazine named Stephen Bechtel on its annual list of the world's richest people late last month, placing him at No. 104 with a net worth of $3.2 billion. Bechtel is one of the world's largest engineering and construction firms, with projects that include Hoover Dam and the Bay Area Rapid Transit system.

The property along North Dowd and Waltz roads in the community of Sheridan, near Coon Creek and the Sutter County line, is next to the 1,000-acre Lakeview Farms Hunting & Fishing Preserves.

Don Norris, who owns the preserve where members can hunt pheasant, duck, geese and other game, said he worked with Stephen Bechtel so that the 330-acre parcel joins Lakeview Farms as open space.

"We're trying to create a large area of land buffered from development," Norris said. "It's like pieces of a puzzle. When it's finished they all come together."

Lakeview Farms and Ducks Unlimited are participating in the wetlands project along with the California Conservation Fund, he said.

Dan Connelly, program manager for Ducks Unlimited in Rancho Cordova, said the wetlands project will preserve property near rapidly growing Lincoln.

"That land is going to be under so much pressure for development," he said.

Norris said demand for the land is ongoing.