Seattle City (spot)Light: Erin Lowery

Erin Lowery will celebrate five years at City Light this June. Erin is a fisheries biologist who works in the utility’s Environment, Land, and Licensing Business Unit. “We have various settlement agreements through our Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license (FERC),” Erin explained. “These agreements are designed to reduce our effects on various resource areas. My job is to manage our fisheries program as defined by our Fisheries Settlement Agreement.”

A Seattle native, Erin grew up in a turn of the century farm house in Ballard. He attended the University of Washington where he pursued his undergraduate and graduate studies at the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. “My master’s focused on the feeding behavior of bull trout in the Skagit River,” Erin shared. “That work was funded by the Science Policy Unit here at City Light. I worked with Ed Connor and Dave Pflug throughout my graduate program and am proud to be one of the scientists in that group.”

In this week’s (spot)Light, Erin talks about his hobbies and his work at City Light.

Erin with his family

“Spending time with my family is my priority. We live in Haller Lake in North Seattle. I love that my girls have become friends with a ton of kids in our neighborhood. My wife and I have also befriended many of our neighbors. And our neighborhood has sidewalks! I’m also introducing a few of my hobbies to my daughters. I like working on classic and modern cars. I have a ’74 MGB roadster, ’67 Series 2a Land Rover 88”, and a ’95 Land Rover Range Rover Classic. I’m also into junk yards, brewing beer, woodworking and metal working. I like to hunt big game (deer, elk, and bear) and upland bird hunting. Living in the Northwest, I also enjoy hiking, camping, overlanding, boating, and various types of fishing.”

“I work on two research programs that focus on Chinook salmon and steelhead. There is also a habitat construction and maintenance program for chum salmon and a small resident trout stocking program for the reservoirs. I help manage the flow plan on the Skagit which dictates how we operate the Gorge Dam in support of salmon and steelhead spawning, incubation, and fry migration. The model that was used to develop the flow program could not provide 100% protection of salmon redds (nests), so there’s a clause in our license that allows us to modify our flows based on the results of on-the-ground monitoring. Because of this, I’m out on the river once a week from March-June and again in August-January to monitor spawning activity. I use the data collected to work with natural resource agencies, tribes and City Light’s Power Management to achieve 100% redd protection.”

“City Light has a reputation of being a good steward of the environment. It’s also an organization that puts science first. Working with Ed and Dave left a big impression on me; it was a great experience.  When I was a researcher at UW I maintained professional relationships with the biologists on the Skagit. So, naturally, I was excited to apply to the utility when a position became available. I like the nature of the work and my colleagues. It also nice to know that I’m a valued part of the organization and that my work is important.”