Region: Sierra Nevada
When did you start working with WAPA? I came to WAPA in March 2015 after bouncing around the U.S. for 15 years with the National Park Service.
What is the most interesting thing you have worked on at WAPA? Currently I'm working on a project to prevent thousands of starlings, which are an invasive and non-native species, from roosting in one of our substations. We've had some novel proposed solutions, including the application of "grape fog," which is a nontoxic grape-derived chemical that irritates birds. People have also suggested visual deterrent lasers and deployment of falcons, but not falcons with lasers!
What do you wish people understood about your job and the work you do? Making sense of the multiple layers of environmental laws and policies, plus keeping track of the various seasonal restrictions related to dozens of protected species often makes it difficult to have a simple "yes" or "no" answer at the ready. I will need to consult references, do a site visit and consider potential risks before issuing advice or developing a strategy about a given situation. Many times the answer is a flexible range of options rather than a black-and-white solution. At the end of the day, my job is to relay the requirements and advise accordingly, keeping WAPA and its employees on the right side of the law and avoiding resource damage. Making this more complicated than it needs to be helps no one. Although the answer I eventually give may not always seem simple, I do actually try to reduce the complexity of an issue.
Tell us something about yourself we wouldn't find on your resume. I love hiking and travelling to new places and am especially fond of climbing mountains. I've ventured to all 50 states, four continents and climbed above 14,000' elevation on 20 occasions. I'm always planning the next adventure and constantly seeking new hiking trails!
How is what you do tied to WAPA's mission? Helping WAPA do the right thing environmentally is important on several levels. Of course there are the regulatory duties that we must fulfill, but our environmental responsibilities go hand in hand with ensuring the power we deliver remains clean and reliable and that WAPA continues to be viewed favorably by the public.