Fish Restoration Deal Model of Cooperation

In a process marked by an eerie lack of lawsuits or public invective, a broad collection of divergent stakeholders — including state and federal agencies, local governments, more than 20 conservation groups, Portland General Electric, and the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation (whew!) — have come to an agreement to restore ocean-running chinook salmon and steelhead to three upper-Oregon rivers, where they have been absent since the Pelton-Round Butte dam complex was built in 1964. The plan calls for the construction of a massive underwater tower (some 18 stories tall) behind the dam that will regulate currents and guide fish to a collection point for passage downstream; PGE will also increase water flow to the Deschutes River. The cost will be split by PGE and the tribes, and PGE will be given a 50-year license for the dam, allowing it to spread the costs out. The groups, which negotiated over almost 20 months, have unanimously praised the plan, which is being touted as a national model. Imagine that.