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Western Washington UniversityCommunications and Marketing
DATE: February 14, 2013 1:21:43 PM PST
Mike McDowell to Discuss the Environmental Impact of the 520 Bridge Expansion at Western Feb. 21

Contact: Western Washington University’s Huxley College of the Environment at (360) 650-3520.

BELLINGHAM – Mike McDowell will present “520 Bridge Expansion: Environmental Impacts and Assessments” as part of Western Washington University’s Huxley College of the Environment Speaker Series at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 21 in AW 204 on Western’s campus.

The presentation is free and open to the public.

McDowell will discuss the strategy and challenges of permitting, environmental mitigation, and Endangered Species Act compliance for the SR 520 Bridge Replacement Project. This is the largest single infrastructure project under way in Washington state, with a total estimated budget of $4.6 billion.

The project corridor, which stretches from the I-5 in Seattle from the west to the City of Redmond at the east end, includes replacing the longest floating bridge in the world. The project also includes the permitting, mitigation, construction and operations of a pontoon casting basin in Aberdeen and Grays Harbor. To meet the timeline established by the governor, the bridge must be replaced by 2014 because of safety concerns with the existing structure.  McDowell will describe the project’s environmental impact assessment under state and federal law, as well as discussing the review and permitting of design and build components.

McDowell, the principal fisheries and aquatic scientist with Confluence Environmental, has over 30 years of project experience managing and performing baseline biological and fisheries studies, environmental impact statements, and monitoring programs for a wide variety of industries throughout the United States and around the world.

His responsibilities have included conducting and managing environmental impact statements under state and federal law. His experience focuses on impacts on fish and aquatic ecosystems from a wide range of development activities. He has also conducted and managed many studies involving salmonid biology, habitat requirements, and life history throughout the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. He has worked in tropical and sub-tropical ecosystems in both the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean basins. He has also worked as the lead aquatic scientist for two mining projects in Ghana, West Africa. McDowell received his bachelor’s degree from Western’s Huxley College of the Environment in 1978.

Anyone interested in these topics is encouraged to come and participate; the presentation will include a question-and-answer period.  The speaker series is held by Western's Huxley College of the Environment to bring together the environmentally minded community and other interested members of Western and Bellingham’s communities.  Speakers address topics of contemporary environmental concern in the region and the world.

For more information, please contact the main office of Huxley College of the Environment, at (360) 650-3520.

Western’s Huxley College of the Environment is one of the oldest environmental colleges in the nation and a recognized national leader in producing the next generation of environmental stewards. The College’s academic programs reflect a broad view of the physical, biological, social and cultural world.  This innovative and interdisciplinary approach makes Huxley unique. The College has earned international recognition for the quality of its programs.

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