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Klamath Courier Fort Jones, CA  February 22, 2006   Page 1 column 6
National Academy begins K2 review

Did NOAA Official threaten NAS group or just warn them?

By Pat Ratliff, Klamath Courier staff writer
 
SACRAMENTO - Monday, February 13, 2006 saw the National Academy of
Sciences meet in Sacramento to begin the second Academy review of
information concerning the Klamath Basin.  The review, commissioned
by the Department of Interior, asks the committee to review both the
Bureau of Reclamations Natural Flow Study, and the Hardy Phase II
Study, due to be completed soon.

"The Review was done to insure the studies were both peer reviewed
and to settle some of the controversies and get them out together."
John Hicks, Chief of Planning Division of the Klamath Basin Area
Bureau of Reclamation told the Klamath Courier, "It's important to
remember both of these are models - not reality."

Models are basically large software programs, which allow information
to be inputted to document known facts, or insert numbers to "see
what would happen".  The programs would then correlate information
inputted with the other information in the program.

Will Graf, chair of the committee and Professor of Geography at the
University of South Carolina, opened the meeting explaining the
committee operates "under a specific task statement".  The committee
will review and evaluate specific things, which they are charged to
consider.

Officially, the task charged to the committee is thus;

 
Provisional Committee on further studies on endangered and threatened
fishes in the Klamath River

Statement of task

A multidisciplinary committee will be established to evaluate new
scientific information that has become available since the National
Research Council issued its 2004 report on Endangered and Threatened
Fishes in the Klamath River Basin.  The new information to be
evaluated by the committee will include two new reports on (1) the
hydrology of the Klamath Basin and (2) habitat needs for anadromous
fish in the Klamath River, including coho salmon.  The committee will
also identify additional information needed to better understand the
basin ecosystem.  In its evaluations, the committee will consider
water quality as well as flow volumes and seasonal flow patterns.

To complete its charge, the committee will:

1. Review and evaluate the methods and approach used in the Natural
Flow Study to create a representative estimate of historical flows
and the Hardy Phase II studies, to predict flow needs for coho and
other anadromous fishes.

2. Review and evaluate the implications of those studies' conclusions
within the historical and current hydrology of the upper basin; for
the biology of the listed species; and separately for other
anadromous fishes.

3. Identify gaps in the knowledge and in the available scientific information.

According to Graf, the initial study, nicknamed K1 now, focused on
two species of sucker fish and coho salmon.  Graf discussed the three
methods of gathering information used by the committee, reviewing
evidence, investigating unfounded assertions, and using professional
judgment.

The review, while sticking to its task, answered some questions and
opened up new ones.

"We ticked off everyone."  Graf said of K1.

Dave Sabo, Manager of the Klamath area office of the BOR, gave a
presentation to the committee including graphs, historical pictures,
history of the project and compared the historical natural flow of
water through the basin compared to the present.

"In 2001, there were two biological opinions in conflict," Sabo told
the group, "neither could be fully achieved."

Sabo outlined to the committee the BOR and the Project and its
problems and responsibilities in regard to the rest of the Klamath
River Basin.

Above Iron Gate Dam, there are 312,000 acres of irrigated land, yet
the Klamath Project contains only 188,000 of those acres.  Only
152,000 of those project acres receive water from the Klamath River
drainage.

"The Klamath Project bears a disproportionate responsibility from
adverse affects from all areas, including non-project sources," Sabo
told the committee members.

Sabo detailed the problems of the water bank to the committee, and
the lack of water storage in the basin, noting that 50 percent of the
storage in the basin is in snow pack.

"Is the system in balance" Sabo asked the members, "if we need to
supplement the system with 100,000 acre feet of waterbank each year?"

Christine Karas, Deputy Area Manager of the Klamath Basin Area Office
of BOR, next spoke of the development of the Natural Flow Study.  The
study began in late 2002, and the first draft was finished December
4, 2003.  Second draft of the study was finished December 10, 2004.

Thomas Perry, BOR Hydrologist with the Technical Service Center in
Colorado was the next to take the podium.  He was credited with doing
much of the study.  Perry told how they first worked on an overview
of the study, what they wanted it to encompass.  They wanted to
calculate a representative monthly time series of natural flow.

One point that seemed important to Perry was the Wood River area.
"It seemed very important to study the Wood River and Williamson
River basins."  Perry said, "We needed that to get a water budget."

Thomas Hardy, Associate Director of the Utah Water Research
Laboratory at Utah State University was next to the podium.  Hardy is
author of the famous (or infamous, depending on who you are) Hardy I
and Hardy II studies.

Hardy began his presentation by commenting on the restrictions which
had originally been made on his study.

"I was explicitly ordered to ignore suckers," Hardy said, "And the
report never made recommendations for coho."

Scientists questioning Hardy on who ordered him to ignore suckers and
coho were told the Klamath Task Force and Technical Working Group had
told him specifically not to expand his studies to tributaries or it
would not be funded.

"There are issues on the Shasta and Scott Rivers," Hardy said, "If
you don't address the tributaries, you won't achieve your goals."

Hardy's original study was from Iron Gate Dam down, but has since
expanded to include everything up to and including Link River.  Hardy
noted that each month, all resident species are taken into account.

Hardy has developed a model, known as RMA 11 which was used for the
PacifiCorp relicensing program.

Hardy is still working on his final draft of the study, but said it
will be done "well before the Academy May meeting".

Hardy finished his presentation with what he said was a favorite
quote of his, from Mark Twain - "Researchers have already cast much
doubt on the subject, and if they continue their studies, we shall
soon know nothing at all."

Marshall Gannett, Hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey of the
Oregon Water Science Center, gave an assessment of the Klamath
Project water bank from a hydrologic perspective.

"It's safe to assume," Gannett said, "That level of pumping (water
bank) cannot continue."

Concluding the listed speakers at the meeting, Will Graf opened up
the open microphone, public comment period, noting; "It pays to
listen to the real experts, the people who live and work there."

Paul Simmons, Sacramento lawyer for the Klamath Water Users
Association spoke at the open microphone.

"Please take this information," Simmons asked the group, "And use it
to do good things.  The Klamath Project cannot be a spigot you just
turn on for every problem down the river."

"What we need most," Dave Solem, Klamath Irrigation District Manager
and KWUA board member told the committee, "Is expert insight, from an
independent point of view."

NOAA OFFICIAL WANTS ESA ATTORNEY ON COMMITTEE

In perhaps the strangest and most awkward moment of the day, Jim
Leckey, Director of the Office of Protected Resources, National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, warned the committee of
distinguished scientists about the water needs of the Klamath River.

"It's the law," Lecky told the group during the public comment
period, "The committee would do well to have a good ESA attorney as a
member."

The statement, whether taken as a threat or just a warning to the
committee, seemed totally out of place in a scientific review group.
Their charge is to review two studies, and report on their
conclusions.  A high NOAA official, whether threatening or warning
committee members, has no place in a study.

"It was just weird, totally out of place."  One observer, who asked
not to be named, said later of the statement by Lecky.

In what NOAA titles "Leadership Biographies", Lecky is listed as
having previously been Senior Advisor for Intergovernmental Programs
for NOAA Fisheries.  His focus was listed as improved governmental
coordination on a number of cross cutting programs such as the
Healthy Forest Initiative, counter part regulations to improve
implementation of the Endangered Species Act consultation process,
and several multi-agency conservation efforts.
 
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