Indians from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
have worked toward putting salmon back into the Umatilla River for years.
They also opposed building more dams on the Umatilla, especially the Mission
Dam mentioned below. East Oregonian, Pendleton, Ore., Wednesday, July
GETTING SALMON BACK INTO THE UMATILLA
"One of the conditions of our approval of a dam at Thornhollow would be that salmon runs on the Umatilla river be reestablished," Elias Quaempts, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation, said this week.
Mr. Quaempts was speaking at a meeting arranged by the Pendleton Chamber of Commerce to consider an investigation of the Thornhollow area of the river as a dam site.
At this meeting, a representative of the State Water Resources Board, Quentin Bowman, spoke at length of the fish resource factor in development of Umatilla River Basin water resources. He pointed out that the Umatilla once was one of "the best salmon streams" biologists had told him it could again become one of the best if not the best streams in the region for salmon propagation.
Mr. Bowman suggested that those persons interested in reestablishing salmon runs on the Umatilla study the Dayton Project on the Touchet River in Washington. That project was built at almost half that sum was credited to fish and wildlife benefits. He said that he thought the possibilities that fish could be a substantial factor in computing benefits from a dam on the Umatilla river were good.
It has been pointed out in this column many times that all possible benefits must be found in order to economically justify a dam on the Umatilla river. This must be done in order to get a favorable benefits-to-cost ratio for the project.
Flood control and irrigation benefits would be of about equal importance in a dam at Thornhollow. On top of that benefits could be assigned to recreation. And in addition to that there is precedent for getting credit from a hydroelectric dam on the Columbia river that would be benefited by regulated storage of water on the Umatilla river. If reestablishing salmon runs on the river were given a substantial credit that, to give a Thornhollow dam a favorable benefits-to-cost ratio. But we do know that it would be touch and go.
Tentative comparisons of projects on the river by the Corps of Engineers show that the gross storage cost per acre foot at Thornhollow dam would be $160 as compared with $110 at Mission dam, some 14 miles downstream. It is known that Mission dam can show a benefits-to-cost ratio that would recommend it to the Congress. Until a thorough study of a dam can show a benefits-to-cost ratio picture there will be hazy. But we do anticipate that it is going to show that development of a substantial fish resource in the river will be necessary to push Thornhollow dam over the top. Knowing that, we would suggest that Mr. Quaempts and others interested in reestablishing salmon runs on the Umatilla get into all facets of the matter as rapidly as possible.