As it does every year at its January meeting, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council elected a new chair and vice-chair to serve in 2020. It elected Richard Devlin of Oregon as Chair, replacing outgoing chair Jennifer Anders of Montana at its Portland meeting, Tuesday, Jan. 14. Devlin had served as the Council’s Vice Chair since Jan. 16, 2019.
The eight-person Council also elected Bo Downen of Montana Vice-Chair. He is the Council’s newest and youngest member.
Also this week, the Council appointed three new members to the Independent Science Review Panel, and 26 scientists to the ISRP’s peer review group.
Devlin said that 2020 would be a very challenging year at the Council as it completes a new Power Plan and Fish and Wildlife Program amendment. Devlin, who chaired the Power Committee in 2019, appointed Patrick Oshe of Washington to chair that committee, and he appointed Ted Ferrioli of Oregon to head up the Public Affairs Committee, which was led by Downen in 2019.
Devlin was appointed to the Council in January 2018 in a double appointment by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown. Ferrioli was appointed at the same time. As an Oregon legislator, Devlin was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives in 1996 where his interests included transportation, education, economic development, election law and natural resources. He was elected to the Oregon Senate in 2002 and from 2007 to 2010 was the Senate Majority Leader. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Administration of Justice from Portland State University and with a Master of Arts in Management from Pepperdine University. He worked in adult and juvenile corrections, civil and criminal investigations and was in the U.S. Marine Corps.
In July 2019, Downen was appointed to the Council in July 2019 by Montana Governor Steve Bullock. Prior to that, Downen was director of environmental and regional affairs at the Public Power Council, a regional association of consumer-owned electric utilities
Downen, who was raised in Montana, joined the Public Power Council as a policy analyst in 2006, focusing on the Council’s fish and wildlife program, energy efficiency policy, and regional power planning. Prior to joining the Public Power Council, he worked as an attorney for the speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives and was a staff member for the State Government Administration Committee. He graduated from Georgetown University and the Loyola University Chicago School of Law.
The Council is made up of two members each appointed by the governors of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. It was created by the federal Northwest Power and Conservation Act in 1980 to develop and update a regional power plan and a fish and wildlife program to protect and rebuild fish and wildlife populations affected by hydropower development on the Columbia River. The fish and wildlife program is funded by the Bonneville Power Administration as mitigation for hydro system impacts. The federal power marketing entity makes final funding decisions.
The Council this week also appointed James Seeb, Patrick Connolly and Alisa Wade to the ISRP, as well as an additional 26 scientists to a list that can provide peer review help when called on by ISRP members (for a list see the Council’s Jan. 7 memorandum at https://www.nwcouncil.org/sites/default/files/2020_01_5ISRP.pdf).
Erik Merrill, independent science manager with the Council’s Fish and Wildlife staff and a member of the ISRP, said there are about 200 scientists listed in the peer review group.
The ISRP, created through an amendment to the power act, is charged with judging the scientific merit of projects submitted for funding through the program.
According to the memo, James Seeb is an expert in salmon genetics and a research professor at the School of Aquatic and Fisheries Science at the University of Washington. His work focuses on identifying genetic differences between Pacific salmon populations and understanding the genetic mechanisms underlying how salmon respond to environmental change.
Merrill said his expertise fills a gap on the ISRP and should be especially valuable to reviews of hatcheries, fish monitoring, and genetic technologies such as environmental DNA monitoring.
Patrick Connolly is a retired, emeritus lead research fish biologist at the United States Geological Survey’s Columbia River Research Laboratory in Cook, Washington. His expertise includes food web dynamics, non-native predator research and management, dam passage approaches, response of fish to restoration efforts, and response of fish life history to climate change. With an influx of new ISRP and ISAB members, his experience with Columbia River Basin ecosystems and institutions will add needed context and facilitate a smooth transition of new members.
Alisa Wade is the research coordinator for the United States Geological Survey’s North Central Climate Adaptation Science Center, as well as a faculty affiliate at the University of Montana. She is a conservation scientist, trained at the intersection of physical, ecological, and social science. She uses spatial models to inform conservation planning. Her expertise will be especially valuable in reviewing sets of aquatic and terrestrial habitat restoration projects in the context of social, climate, and ecological interactions.
“The eleven-member ISRP and its Peer Review Groups provide scientific review of Fish and Wildlife Program proposals and their results, improving program implementation and ensuring accountability,” the memo says. “In developing these appointment and renewal recommendations, the experience and expertise of the scientists on the ISRP were considered with the goal to maintain a panel that fosters a multi-disciplinary approach and offers fresh perspectives, while preserving an institutional knowledge of independent scientific review and fish and wildlife management in the Columbia River Basin.”