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Federal agencies can’t ignore science and facts
National Academy of Science found there was no credible scientific basis for Hardy's flow requirements

Ryan Kliewer is a Klamath Basin farmer and entrepreneur


How 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 risk.

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.


There is better science.

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 downstream.

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 mistakes?


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              Page Updated: Monday December 30, 2019 02:10 AM  Pacific

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The court case is Yurok Tribe, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Association and Institute for Fisheries Resources vs. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and National Marine Fisheries Services.