Former BuRec Commissioner Keys dies in plane crash

A memorial service was held June 6 in Moab for former Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner John Keys III who was killed in a plane crash in Canyonlands National Park.

Keys, 66, was piloting the plane, which crashed in the Needles District of the national park the morning of May 30. A second man was killed in the crash, identified in news media reports as Gary Kramer, 49, Scottsdale, Ariz.

BuRec Commissioner Robert Johnson informed employees of the crash June 2. Johnson succeeded Keys as head of the Interior Department agency in 2006. (HNN 10/3/06)

Memorial services also are planned June 11 in Boise, Idaho, and June 16 in Washington. Keys is survived by his wife, Dell, and their daughters, Cathy and Robyn.

President Bush appointed Keys the bureau’s 16th commissioner in 2001. Keys came out of retirement to accept the job, which he held until retiring again in April 2006.

Keys spent his professional career working with BuRec and the Department of Interior throughout the western United States. From 1964 to 1979, he worked as a civil and hydraulic engineer, gaining experience on issues related to the Great Basin, Missouri River Basin, Colorado River Basin, and the Columbia River Basin. He also served 12 years as Pacific Northwest regional director before retiring from federal service the first time in 1998.

In 1995, Interior presented Keys its Distinguished Service Award for maintaining open lines of communication and keeping interest groups focused on solutions.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, remembered Keys as a dedicated public servant whose knowledge, experience, and demeanor were key factors in successful leadership.

�Those same skills, combined with his willingness to work with Congress on a bipartisan basis, were instrumental in addressing a wide range of water resources issues across the West,� Bingaman said in a tribute added to the Congressional Record June 4. �He will be sorely missed, but left a legacy of accomplishments that will ensure that he is long remembered.�

The second largest producer of hydropower in the western U.S., BuRec is responsible for dams, hydropower plants, and canals in 17 states. Its 58 power plants annually provide more than 40 billion kWh, generating nearly $1 billion in power revenues and producing enough electricity to serve 6 million homes.

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