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Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde project to demolish buildings, restore environment continues

On Jan. 7, the final structure of the former Blue Heron Paper Mill property's former chip dump came down in Oregon City.

Before the closure of the mill in 2011, trucks would dump wood chips at the covered structure, and these chips would be turned into paper. Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde leaders gathered alongside members of the Oregon City Commission in September to commemorate the beginning of on-site demolition work at the former mill.COURTESY PHOTO: JESSE BUSS - A resident of Oregon City just happened to be walking his dog along the McLoughlin Promenade when he captured this demolition video.

The private event marked the beginning of a large-scale environmental restoration project in the works since Grand Ronde acquired the 23-acre site in 2019. Since then, the tribe has been developing remediation plans for the culturally significant land with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, sharing the final renderings of the tribe's vision in March.

Grand Ronde comprises over 30 tribes and bands from western Oregon, northern California and southwest Washington. The group envisions a mixed-use development at the northern end of the property that could include spaces for offices, hospitality and education as well as tribal spaces, public gathering spots, restaurants, retail, and public access to Willamette Falls. The tribe has designed all new developments to visually and physically connect to an environmentally restored landscape.

Partial funding for the restoration project comes from the Environmental Protection Agency's Brownfields Grant Program, which awarded the tribe $800,000 in May for the assessment and cleanup of the property.

Jaelen Ogadhoh contributed to this report.

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