In a new twist to the Klamath River controversy, Michael Kelly, a biologist with the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service, is blowing the whistle on the Bush administration for drafting and approving a water plan that he says provides inadequate protections for endangered salmon. The accusations come after the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation rejected water-flow recommendations by Kelly and his team and instead proposed cutting the river’s flow by 43 percent. According to Kelly, that plan won’t provide sufficient protection for the salmon “until the ninth year of the 10-year plan,” which, he says, is a violation of the Endangered Species Act. To add insult to injury, NMFS signed off on the BuRec demands; Kelly believes both agencies acted under unlawful pressure from above. Kate Vandemoer, executive director of WaterWatch in Portland, Ore., and a former hydrologist with the fisheries service, isn’t surprised by the allegations: “If you are a federal employee for a long time, you get used to this bastardization of science. For the other folks who manage to retain some degree of principle, it’s pretty depressing.” Kelly’s supervisor, however, says the final water management plan is scientifically sound.
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