Opinion: Columbia River tribes sign historic deal
"It was indeed a historic event earlier this month when the Yakama Nation joined with three other Columbia River tribes -- Warm Springs, Umatilla and Colville -- to approve an agreement that, if given a chance, should get salmon restoration efforts moving ahead full bore on the Columbia River.

Most of the $900 million commitment -- about $850 million -- will come from the Bonneville Power Administration, which manages power distribution on the Columbia River. In exchange, the signatory tribes will agree not to sue federal authorities that operate dams on the Columbia River over fish issues for the next 10 years.

About $540 million would go to new projects, while the rest will fund existing ones. The Yakamas will gain about $330 million and the Colvilles about $200 million. Oregon's Umatilla tribe will get some $150 million and Warm Springs about $80 million. Another $90 million goes to the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission.

BPA officials estimate that the agreement, which requires final approval from a federal judge, will cause a rate increase of 2 percent to 4 percent in wholesale power prices.

A spokesman for the Yakamas said the tribe already has about 200 projects identified for hatcheries and habitat, some of them ongoing efforts. Work is now progressing on a master contract with BPA to expedite matters."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Tribes right to focus on rivers, not litigation (The Yakima Herald-Republic 5/25)

An Opposing View:
Mike Barenti: Historic salmon deal really more of the same (The Yakima Herald-Republic 5/25)

Related Stories:
Yakama Nation backs Columbia River agreement (5/1)
Editorial: Progress in salmon recovery deal (4/9)
Editorial: Tribal salmon agreement is historic (4/9)
Columbia River tribes reach salmon agreement (4/8)