many times will federal agencies fail at fish recovery
before they try something fundamentally different? Over
20 years of throwing Klamath Project water at the
problem has yielded less fish in the Klamath River and
put the continued existence of suckers at still-greater
Instead of doing anything
different, the regulators double down on failure and
demand even more of the same. Dr.
Thomas Hardy came on the scene over 20 years ago,
hired by the Department of Justice and Bureau of Indian
Affairs to conduct Klamath River flow studies intended
to support tribes’ bargaining positions. Since then, the
narrative of science used in the biological opinions for
salmon and sucker species has been driven by the failed
paradigm of “more water will surely mean more fish.” Now
we see the results.
Dr. Hardy yielded two reports for
river flow, based on fish habitat modeling below Iron
Gate Dam. His phase I report was largely responsible for
the 2001 water shut off, since it called for
unprecedented volumes of Upper Klamath Lake water to be
sent downstream, for theoretical purposes. Less than one
year later, the NAS slammed the report by finding there
was no credible scientific basis for the flow
requirements. In fact, it said the actual facts are
contrary to Dr. Hardy’s theories.
That didn’t stop Dr. Hardy from
issuing a Phase II report, in 2006.
The National Academy reviewed
Phase II as well, and once again found that it did not
provide support for any particular flows in the Klamath
River for ESA-listed coho. What happened to that NAS
review? It has been ignored by the National Marine
Fisheries Service for over a decade because it doesn’t
fit the stereotypical narrative that “taking more farm
water equals more fish.”
The federal agencies are ignoring
the advice of the National Academy and are continuing to
rely upon the Hardy report and its flawed applicability
to benefiting Klamath River coho. This flawed assessment
is once again being used to write biological opinions
that require artificially high flows to be sent
This will destroy Klamath Project
irrigators and dry up our wildlife refuges.
A few months ago, we learned that
an “outside source” had given the federal agencies
incorrect data during the most recent ESA consultation
process on Klamath Project operations. Because of this,
the federal agencies need to restart the process for yet
another biological opinion. Last week, we learned that
the “outside source” was Dr. Hardy. He had been involved
and confirmed that the “right” data were being used. But
that was wrong.
How do we know it was wrong? Dr.
Hardy had been hired by another party to review the
biological opinion and found that the wrong data had
been used. That other party is now suing the federal
government, claiming the biological opinion is invalid.
Dr. Hardy filed an affidavit to support the lawsuit,
saying the government had used the wrong data.
You read that correctly. Dr. Hardy
made the mistake while he was working for the
government. He didn’t admit his mistake; instead he
blamed the government. Now he is helping someone else
sue the government for his mistake.
While all this is going on, Dr.
Hardy’s theoretical fish models remain disputed by the
highest science body in the land — the National Academy.
Why does the government ignore
their findings and instead continue to use Dr. Hardy’s