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Klamath, Siskiyou Counties: KBRA/Klamath Dam Removal

The science: Scientists say they have no agenda

by LEE JUILLERAT, Herald and News 2/21/12

The angry shouts are heard at all the hearings.


During October 2011 hearings on the Klamath Dam Removal Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Review, audience members, especially in Klamath Falls and Yreka, often loudly shouted and insisted “bad” or “junk” science was being used to justify proposals to remove four Klamath River dams.


The scientists involved in collecting the information — including fisheries and marine biologists, hydrologists, microbiologists, epidemiologists and other specialists — hear those comments and cringe.


“Whether people believe it or not, we’re putting together a rigorous process,” said Dennis Lynch, a U.S. Geological Survey hydrologist. He’s the program manager for the federal Department of the Interior Secretarial Determination on whether the Klamath Basin Restoration and Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement agreements should be recommended for implementation.


“For the most part, none of us has any agenda at all. My most important mission is to generate accurate, defensible, verifiable information,” Lynch said. “The facts will be what they are.”


Others share his sentiments, and frustration.


“The perception is that we’re an arm of the propaganda machine to develop a point of view,” said Mike Belchik, a senior fisheries biologist with the Yurok Tribe. “I flatly deny that.”


Mark Hampton, a fisheries biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service office in Yreka, said information used in various studies has been peer reviewed by experts in specific fields with no stake in Klamath River Basin issues.


“I don’t know what more you can do,” Hampton said, adding that claims of bias “are just assumptions people are making.”



“You hear the naysayers,” agreed Mike Orcutt, the Hoopa Valley Tribal Fisheries Department director.


“This is a science-based solution from parties that five years ago couldn’t even sit in the same room together,” said John Hamilton, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist. “It’s such a big basin and a lot of the people in the lower basin don’t understand what’s going on in the upper basin, and vice versa.”


“It’s such a lightning rod,” says Dr. Thomas Hardy, the author of the Hardy Phase I and II reports on Klamath River water flows, of Klamath River Basin issues.


He knows about controversy. Hardy I, which recommended increased water flows from Iron Gate Dam, was used by the National Marine Fisheries Service to justify the cutoff of water to Klamath Project irrigators in 2001.


Hardy, who frequently has been criticized, believes valid science “gets swept away when you don’t get the answer you want.”


He and others believe the test of “good” or “junk” is whether it gains approval from peer reviews, where panels of scientists with no personal interest in the projects they’re reviewing, meticulously examine data and conclusions.


“To me it wouldn’t do any good to give them bad information,” Belchik said, noting even if it passed review it could lead to poor management decisions.


“It certainly is frustrating to work hard for your career to develop good information and have it waved off just because you work for the tribe,” Belchik said. “Our job is to develop objective information so people can make good decisions.”


“The important thing,” Lynch says, “is over the last two years we have generated a lot of science. I feel very good about the quality and the objectivity of our work.”

Side Bar


KBC News comments or supplementary links exposing who these scientists are who were interviewed by Herald and News, which is a KBRA supporter according to KBRA promoters' website

Mike Belchik, a senior fisheries biologist with the Yurok Tribe, is included in following article: Dr. Ken Rykbost shares Hardy flaws with Fishery group in Yreka. The Yurok Tribe has long advocated for dam removal and the KBRA.

Dr. Thomas Hardy, KBRA advocate, is also included in the above article link.

Dr. Thomas B. Hardy was contracted by the Department of Justice to establish Indian water rights to be an expert witness for (and paid for by) the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) in the Klamath River adjudication process.  The BIA authorized Hardy in his 2000 contract $550,086. He worked with the Klamath River Basin Fisheries Task Force Technical Work Group. He used tribal biology paid for by individual tribes. Hardy wrote the studies that are currently regulating the Klamath Project water management. From his studies, biological opinions were formed. Irrigators and their scientists were not allowed at the table.

Klamath Watershed in Perspective A review of historical hydrology of major features of the Klamath River Watershed and evaluation of Hardy Iron Gate Flow requirements. By Dr. K.A. Rykbost, Superintendent, Klamath Experiment Station, Oregon State University, and R. Todd, Klamath County Extension Office, Oregon State University. HERE for Dr. Rykbost biography

Klamath Water Users Association letter blasting Dr. Hardy science

Here > for KBC's BIA/Tom Hardy Page. Fishery scientist David Vogel's studies are included on this page involving Hardy "science."

Dr. John Menke biography, retired professor and range ecologist, rancher, involved in the Klamath Basin Watershed.  He refers to Hardy's studies, also quoting other scientists:
Scoping Input on the Klamath Settlement Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report EIR/EIS Process










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