In 1982, after Lynn Best ’69 joined the Seattle City Light team, his team faced an immediate challenge: to explore how its three dams generate electricity on the Skagit River northwest of Washington State. As executive director, he was able to persuade City Light to allow the environmental group to lead the discussion.
“Of course,” says Best, “the main issue was the protection of salmon in the river.” The four species of salmon were known to produce varying degrees of intensity and intensity. The team relied on science to determine water flow and elevation, and put the health of these species at the forefront, rather than electric power. Because the project was done in collaboration with state and federal agencies as well as local communities, the coalition partners signed a memorandum of understanding, which was the first time that this was done on a major water project. The fish responded immediately. Cum and pink fish went back to history.
The efforts of City Light have not progressed. In 1992, a senior member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said the Skagit River project was a relief project. According to Best, when you dig deep, several scientific answers emerge. And in his experience, one of these answers could benefit all concerned. It is a lesson he learned during his time as a biology major at MIT.
Of course, mistakes do happen. About ten years ago, the gates of the dam failed to open properly, draining water from several salmon salmon nests. This time, as the director of Environmental Affairs of Seattle City Light, Best and his big team have now reported on peer pressure. The tribes “did not impose any sanctions, which did not seem to be the case,” he said. It was evidence of how his approach to communication worked.
In 2005, under the leadership of Best, Seattle City Light became the first instrument in the country to remain politically neutral. And more recently, when he was the director of environmental affairs for the organization, he promoted the principle of environmental justice in order to protect and assist the various disadvantaged and economically disadvantaged areas.
Best retired from Seattle City Light in early 2020. He is now a member of the Skagit Environmental Endowment Commission, dedicated to protecting the environment of Upper Skagit on both sides of the border. They also spend time watching birds and hiking. His legacy in building relationships and caring for the environment continues.