State & Region

Judge allows Grande Ronde to intervene in PGE Willamette Falls lawsuit

The utility wants to condemn five acres of land near Willamette Falls that is has been used by Native Americans for fishing for hundreds if not thousands of years – July 16, 2022 – Oregon City News – Willamette Week

The Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde will be allowed to intervene in Portland General Electric’s (PGE) lawsuit seeking to condemn five acres of land on the east bank of the river below Willamette Falls, Willamette Week reports.

The land in question is used for fishing by Native American tribes, including the confederated tribes of the Grand Ronde, which obtained an Oregon Department of State Lands license to fish at the site. The Grande Ronde tribes, in 2019, bought 23 acres of land that was part of the Blue Heron paper mill property and later built a platform for fishing near the base of Willamette Falls, numerous published reports show.

Willamette Week reports that PGE officials are saying the utility seeks to condemn those specific five acres due to safety concerns. The newspaper also quotes a PGE vice president saying the area where the Grande Ronde erected the fishing platform needs to be kept clear so that the utility’s hydroelectric dam at Willamette Falls can operate securely.

The Grande Ronde responded by saying the PGE dam’s operations have been unfettered since at least the early 1960s, and that the company’s federal license to operate on the Willamette River mentions nothing about the five acres of land being critical to its functionality, Willamette Week reports.

Read the entire Willamette Week story by clicking here.