Safeguarding Skagit: Inside the Newhalem-Diablo Fire Brigade

City Light’s Skagit Hydroelectric Project provides clean and efficient energy to Seattle’s customers, and its idyllic location provides spectacular, Instagram-worthy views of the North Cascades and Diablo Lake. Being nestled in such a remote location does have its advantages, but it can also provide its share of challenges when minutes count. During an emergency—whether someone has a bump or bruise during a dam tour or is involved in a serious traffic accident on the North Cascades Highway—a team of City Light employees take action, changing from their daily roles at the utility to act as members of the Newhalem-Diablo Fire Brigade.

For almost 60 years, this mostly volunteer group of first responders has gone above and beyond their assigned work duties at City Light to safeguard the residents and property of City Light, the Skagit Project and the North Cascades National Park. Fire Brigade Chief Cody Watson explains “the brigade fights fires and provides an emergency response like a typical fire department would; there are situations that require backup.” That’s why in 2008, a specialized group called the Skagit Technical Response Team (STRT) was created to supplement the brigade and provide aid during unusual rescue situations. Like the brigade, STRT is a team of City Light employees who are trained beyond their day-to-day skills.

In 2016, the brigade was crucial to the containment of the Goodell Creek Fire, which severely threatened the Skagit Hydroelectric Project and the surrounding communities. For Watson, an emergency of any size is important because of the brigade’s local impact.

“We have helped friends, family, co-workers and strangers who are often having the worst day of their lives,” says Watson. “The brigade provides services that no one else in this geographical area can. When the fire alarm goes off, they have to switch gears and put on a different hat. We have a pretty extraordinary team up here.”

Last November, the fire brigade added a new vehicle to their fleet, a state-of-the-art ambulance. The new vehicle replaced a unit that had been in service for nearly 25 years. Watson and the brigade worked closely with the City Light Fleet and Mobile Equipment team to build a unit that meets their unique needs. Some of the unique features include snow chains that engage with a flip of a switch, a hydraulic lift and cabin airbags to protect first responders when treating a patient.

Thank you, Newhalem-Diablo Fire Brigade, for keeping the City Light employees and its visitors safe!

 

Experience the majestic beauty of the North Cascades next summer on a Skagit Tour. Skagit Tours provide a fun and educational experience for people of all ages. Visit https://www.seattle.gov/light/damtours/skagit.asp for more information!

❄️Winter Wonderland at City Light’s Hydroelectric Projects❄️

It’s that time of the year in Seattle. You know, when dreary clouds outstay their welcome and cold rain reliably pelts your face every time you venture outdoors.

While our facilities in Seattle have stayed soggy for most of the season, our other facilities are dealing with a different (and some would argue more pleasant) kind of precipitation: snow! Our hydroelectric projects in the North Cascades and in northeastern Washington have had enough snow to make Jack Frost jealous.

City Light employees from across the state sent us these frosty photos to show what the weather is like in their neck of the woods. Grab a cup of hot cocoa, wrap up in your favorite blanket and browse through these delightful snowscapes.

A special thanks to all of those who submitted photos!

❄️Winter Wonderland at City Light’s Hydroelectric Projects❄️

It’s that time of the year in Seattle. You know, when dreary clouds outstay their welcome and cold rain reliably pelts your face every time you venture outdoors.

While our facilities in Seattle have stayed soggy for most of the season, our other facilities are dealing with a different (and some would argue more pleasant) kind of precipitation: snow! Our hydroelectric projects in the North Cascades and in northeastern Washington have had enough snow to make Jack Frost jealous.

City Light employees from across the state sent us these frosty photos to show what the weather is like in their neck of the woods. Grab a cup of hot cocoa, wrap up in your favorite blanket and browse through these delightful snowscapes.

A special thanks to all of those who submitted photos!

See Skagit: Diablo Lake Boat Tour

This summer, see the many places and meet the many faces of Skagit.

Tre on the new Alice Ross IV boat

Meet Tre Nabstedt. He’s one of three boat captains that takes you aboard Skagit Tour’s Alice Ross IV boat for an unforgettable cruise on Diablo Lake. This summer will mark his second season showcasing the incredible splendor of the area—from the distinctive turquoise color of the glacier-fed lakes to the architectural marvels of City Light’s Diablo and Ross dams. Tre recently sat down with us for a quick chat about Diablo Lake Boat Tours and what he enjoys most about working in the heart of Mother Nature.

Can you tell us a little about the Skagit Tours on Diablo Lake?
“Right from the beginning, people can expect to see a really nice glimpse of the natural beauty that lives here in the North Cascades. You get out on the water, see different wildlife and learn some fun facts about the lake, the surrounding mountains and glaciers, along with the fish and river ecosystems.

The tour also provides a more in-depth look of the natural systems and fascinating history of how the hydroelectric project was built and operated from the start of J.D. Ross’s vision up until today. It’s a pretty rewarding experience.”

A unique view of Ross Dam, one of three power generating developments at City Light’s Skagit Project

What type of wildlife is typically spotted?
“We see a ton of bald eagles, a lot of different species of ducks. You’re likely to see fish jumping out of the lake. You may see a deer, a black bear, or a mountain lion…there is SO much life up here.”

You never know what you’ll see in the North Cascades. This black bear was spotted during a Diablo Lake Boat Tour.

Who usually joins the tour?
“There’s always a great mix on board. Everyone from newlyweds and families to tour groups and retirees. Occasionally, folks will return to the tour and bring someone they want to share the experience with. It’s a great thing to give as a gift. We’ve also had a few multi-generational groups where grandparents bring grandchildren, which is always fun. It’s an easy day trip that pleases everyone.”

What are the common reactions people have when cruising the lake?
“I would say awestruck. People are completely amazed by the beauty. They’re generally very captivated. I never see bored faces.”

What attracted you to this job?
“By nature, I’m a mountain AND an ocean lover. We’re not on the ocean, but we’re still surrounded by this incredible water. I feel pretty lucky to spend my summers in Skagit…on a boat…up in the mountains. I love it.”

A stunning vista of Diablo Lake

Thank you, Tre, for providing a sneak peek of the “Skagit Magic” one can expect aboard! Seattle City Light has been offering the popular Diablo Lake Tour for more than 80 years, educating the community about the utility’s Skagit River Hydroelectric Project which provides clean, low-cost, renewable power to Seattle. To learn more or to book the tour, click here.

Skagit Tours: New and Improved for 2016

Today marks the beginning of the season for City Light’s Skagit Tours, and the experience for guests is better than ever this year. A new vessel, the Alice Ross IV, is making its debut on the Diablo Lake Boat Tours.


The new Alice Ross IV on a test run in April 2016

As it name implies, the Alice Ross IV is the fourth vessel to show visitors to the North Cascades the wonders of Diablo Lake. The Alice Ross boats have been in service to the public for more than 80 years. They are all named in honor of Alice Ross, the wife of J.D. Ross, the man who helped make hydroelectric energy generation along the Skagit River a reality.


The Alice Ross I on Diablo Lake in 1935

The Alice Ross IV is 55 feet long and has a capacity of 49 passengers and crew. It has an air-conditioned and heated cabin, an open aft deck and an onboard head. Best of all, it has large glass windows all along its cabin sides and roof, making for an excellent viewing experience—even from inside the boat.


Guests can stay dry and comfortable in the temperature-controlled cabin of the Alice Ross IV.

Located about 128 miles northeast of Seattle, Diablo Lake is a reservoir created by the Diablo Dam, one of three dams built in the last century on the Skagit River by Seattle City Light. Lake Diablo is a beautiful jade-turquoise color due to the glacial flour found in the waters that feed it.

 An aerial view of Diablo Lake looking south

City Light offers two different types of boat tours on Diablo Lake: a full tour that begins in the morning and ends in the afternoon, with a snack and lunch provided, or a shorter tour later in the afternoon. Both options provide visitors with an opportunity to learn about the unique history of the lake, the amazing biodiversity of the surrounding habitat and its wildlife. And, of course, views of the snow-capped mountains and jade waters are even more enjoyable from the cozy cabin of the new Alice Ross IV.

The 2016 Skagit Tours season closes in September 2016, but you should book today if you’d like to embark on his adventure. Dates are filling up quickly!

Book a Diablo Lake Boat Tour here.