YAKIMA — Native American tribes celebrated the completion of the last of 31 tribal treaty fishing access sites along the lower Columbia River on Monday.
Congress authorized the federal government in 1988 to establish access sites for tribes guaranteed fishing rights by treaties but whose traditional fishing areas were flooded when the lower Columbia River dams were built. Construction of the first sites began in 1995.
The last site near Dallesport, a 64-acre site about 75 miles east of Portland, includes eight campsites for tribal members, a boat launch and dock, restroom and shower facilities, net repair racks and a fish cleaning table.
In addition, the site required extensive environmental restoration by workers, most of whom were members of the Warm Springs, Nez Perce, Umatilla and Nez Perce tribes. The site cost $4.8 million.
“The conclusion of these construction projects demonstrates the power of partnership and what we can accomplish when we work together,” Gerald Lewis, chairman of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, said in a statement.
“There is still work that needs to be done to address what was lost at these sites,” he said. “I believe we will accomplish what we need to by working together.”
Representatives of the tribal commission, the four tribes, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Corps of Engineers cooperated to implement the project. Together, the 31 fishing access sites occupy about 700 acres along the Columbia River from Bonneville Dam to McNary Dam.