On PGE efforts to resolve the property dispute at Willamette Falls

Apr. 08, 2023

Dave Robertson, vice president of Public Affairs, PGE: “For over three years, PGE tried all means reasonable to resolve a dispute about a permit issued by the Oregon Department of State Lands to the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. This permit allowed a fishing platform to be placed on property at the base of Willamette Falls in an area that is essential to safe and secure operations of our hydroelectric plant, consistent with obligations set by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). We have worked through the administrative law process, judicially assisted mediation and attempts to purchase the State’s claimed interest. A recent ruling from the administrative law judge did not resolve the dispute and made clear the long road ahead to final resolution. That’s why we are moving forward with condemnation as the best legal tool available to expediently resolve issues essential to our operations. No matter the outcome, PGE recognizes the area’s immense importance to Northwest Tribes. That’s why we filed a request to establish a perpetual cultural practices easement with FERC early last year, to facilitate safe and equitable access for Tribes to engage in traditional cultural practices consistent with our FERC obligations.”

Tribal Chairman Delores Pigsley, Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians Tribal Council: “The Siletz Tribe appreciates PGE’s efforts to resolve this dispute about land it owns at Willamette Falls, and which will confirm Siletz tribal members’ rights to also exercise their treaty rights at the falls. Nearly 20 years ago, the five tribes with treaty-based rights to fish at Willamette Falls entered into a compromise plan as part of PGE’s FERC relicensing process for its hydroelectric facility there for managing historic properties, allowing cultural access for tribes, and providing a process to resolve any disputes. One tribe and Oregon DSL has bypassed this agreed upon process, negatively affecting the Siletz Tribe’s access to Willamette Falls. By circumventing that process and taking actions that caused this current property dispute, certain parties have infringed on the rights of other tribes, including Siletz, who should have equal access to Willamette Falls. We support PGE’s efforts to restore equal treatment to all affected tribes.”

Chairman Ray Tsumpti, Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs: “PGE has been a model of corporate relations with the Warm Springs Tribes and other tribes on issues ranging from habitat restoration and water quality in Oregon rivers to lamprey harvest at Willamette Falls. For the last several years, PGE has worked in good faith to resolve a property dispute that has adversely impacted all Tribes who have interests, claims and rights at Willamette Falls. Unfortunately, the Grand Ronde Tribes stepped away from those discussions some time ago, and it recently blocked a proposal supported by all the other Tribes, PGE and the Department of State lands to engage in new talks to resolve the ownership dispute. We support PGE’s action to move forward now, secure its property, and its ongoing efforts to facilitate a safe and equitable way for all Tribes to have everlasting access the site.”

Chairman Delano Saluskin, Tribal Council for Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation: “Yakama Nation supports PGE’s efforts to definitively resolve this land dispute after spending extensive time, money, and resources through the administrative law and mediation processes in recent years. PGE’s need to safely operate and maintain the area within the boundaries of its federally licensed power plant is unassailable. PGE’s pursuit of a perpetual cultural practices easement recognizes the immense importance of the Willamette Falls to Yakama Nation. We look forward to continuing meaningful collaboration to ensure safe access in support of our people’s traditional and cultural practices.”

Related resources

About Portland General Electric Company
Portland General Electric (NYSE: POR) is a fully integrated energy company based in Portland, Oregon, with operations across the state. The company serves approximately 900,000 customers with a service area population of 2 million Oregonians in 51 cities. PGE owns 16 generation plants across Oregon and other Northwestern states and maintains and operates 14 public parks and recreation areas. For over 130 years, PGE has delivered safe, affordable and reliable energy to Oregonians. Together with its customers, PGE has the No. 1 voluntary renewable energy program in the U.S. PGE and its 3,000 employees are working with customers to build a clean energy future. In 2020, PGE, employees, retirees and the PGE Foundation donated $5.6 million and volunteered 18,200 hours with more than 400 nonprofits across Oregon. For more information visit portlandgeneral.com/news.