Erin McGowan
Erin McGowanEcologist
Erin grew up camping, hiking, and fishing with her three brothers in northwest Montana. Coming from many generations of loggers, Erin aspired to work in the woods. After graduating high school, Erin worked on a Montana Conservation Corps (MCC) trail crew. It was on a trail assignment in the Great Bear Wilderness on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River where Erin’s love of the natural world evolved, and she realized she wanted to pursue a career restoring rivers and riparian habitats in the west. After her season with MCC, Erin worked seasonally for the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) in the Flathead and Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forests on trail and fire crews.

Erin continued working seasonally for the USFS as she earned her college degrees. At Flathead Valley Community College (FVCC), she analyzed the bioremediation potential of golden willow and oyster mushrooms to address nutrient loading in the Flathead Valley and participated in research abroad at a NASA funded site near Tahiti that investigated ocean acidification and coral reef collapse. Erin then transferred to the University of Montana Western (UMW) where she designed a field experiment to identify hyporheic exchange around beaver dams on Blacktail Deer Creek. After she obtained her B.S in Environmental Sciences with an emphasis in Wetland Management at UMW, she pursued her M.S. in Geosciences with an emphasis in Hydrogeology at Montana Tech. Her research assessed the spatial distribution of lateral channel migration and stream power on the upper Ruby River to support the location, type, and schedule of river restoration actions for the Snowcrest Ranch, The Nature Conservancy, Ruby Valley Conservation District, and their partners. Not long after obtaining her masters, Erin accepted her dream job with the RDG Whitefish Team in 2023, which brought her back to the Flathead Valley. As an Ecologist at RDG, she enjoys wetland survey and design, riparian revegetation fieldwork and design, GIS spatial analysis and cartography, and provides assistance with stream surveys and geomorphic data collection.

“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm”

–Winston Churchill

Erin is an enrolled member of the Spokane Tribe of Indians, and is on the Board of Directors for River Restoration Northwest working on indigenous partnerships, membership and outreach.

Kila, Montana

Flathead River