President Bush has nominated John W. Keys III, a 34-year veteran of the Bureau of Reclamation, to be the bureau's next Commissioner, the agency's top position. The nomination was sent to the Senate on June 14.

Keys was with the bureau, which is part of the Interior Dept., from 1964 to 1998, when he retired from the agency. Much of his career with Reclamation was spent in its Pacific Northwest region, which is based in Boise. He was regional director there from 1986 to 1998. Interior Secretary Gale Norton says, "John Keys knows the Bureau of Reclamation inside and out and appreciates its challenges and opportunities."

Dan Beard, Reclamation's commissioner from 1993-1995, says that Keys, who holds degrees from Georgia Tech and Brigham Young, is "a civil engineer at his core." But Beard also says, "And he's a good politician."

Beard, now chief operating officer of the National Audubon Society, says, "I think he's fair, he's very capable, and I think he'll do an excellent job as commissioner."