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Warm Springs Tribes sue government over Blowdown Timber sale 25 years ago in 1996

100 YEARS AGO

September 8, 1921

As a result of his recent trip through Oregon, Director A.P. Davis, of the reclamation service, has recommended the dropping of the Deschutes project until all difficulties can be removed, and the substitution of the Powder River irrigation project, states a wire received here this morning from Congressman N.J. Sinnott, in Washington, D.C.

"Morrie Bien, acting director of the reclamation service, has notified myself and Senators McNary and Stanfield by letter that Director Davis, on account of complications which he found in his recent investigations regarding the controversy about the use of water between the North Unit land and land in the Bend vicinity, including lumber interests and power development, also on the account of the large area of land in private ownership preferring private construction and refusing general compliance with one hundred and sixty acre maximum acreage law, and difficulty of securing agreement fixing price of excess acreage, has recommended dropping Deschutes project till difficulties can be removed, substituting therefore, the Powder River project," Sinnott wired.

Flit! Flown! Vamoose! Four hundred thousand dollars, appropriated by the Congress of the United States for the first step in the development of the Deschutes Irrigation Project. Secured after years of endeavor by the people who desired that their lands should be benefitted by water so that they could make a better living from their farms.

The above article from the Bend Bulletin is not entirely self-explanatory. In changing the appropriation from the Deschutes project, Director Davis only voices the opinion of the investigation board which visited in this section some few months ago. After investigating thoroughly this board has decided that the lack of harmony between the Bend interests and the people of the North Unit Irrigation District is so pronounced and in fear of further difficulties have recommended that the Government do not tie itself is in the undertaking. In addition to this reason the reluctance of land holders in the North Unit district to relinquish their excessive land holdings over 160 acres at a reasonable figure has had an important bearing in causing Director Davis to withdraw the appropriation from here and transfer it to the Powder River project.

With the facts before them the United States Reclamation Service have virtually said, "We get out, the district is yours, work out your own salvation." It is the opinion of those well versed in the irrigation situation in Oregon that as far as the Deschutes project is concerned the Reclamation Service has repudiated the cooperative agreement between the government and the state and will permit the state to handle as its commissions see fit, and without Federal Aid, the units in the Deschutes project.

If this is a fact, and it is apparent that it is the desire of the Reclamation Service, the North Unit District is in far better shape than it has ever been. The district has all the priority over other units of any importance in the Deschutes project. It has a well-defined financial plan and is the only district in the project which is ready, and in a position to receive its appropriation of water, have the state certify its bonds and proceed with its contract to construct and then build.

75 YEARS AGO

September 12, 1946

An interesting transition is being observed this fall down around Culver, where in many watered fields row crops are already growing and where in others ranchers are engaged in the final cutting of wheat, once the king crop of the neighborhood. In many of the fields the grain, wheat in instances but more barley than anything else, was used as a nurse crop for seedlings of clover and alfalfa.

The new acreages of legumes have responded well to water, and now the fields, after the combines have removed the grain heads and straw, appear vividly green. This all indicates the early need for new dairy herds in this area. It points the way, too, to added profits from sale of seeds. We can behold an attendant increase in bee population. While the added colonies of bees will be making honey, the bees will also be indispensable in their good efforts at pollinating the clover seed.

If construction work on canal extensions and laterals of the local irrigation system were proceeding in accord with promised schedule, we could contemplate a like transition in other fields further down in Jefferson County another year. But construction work has been halted, in accord with the presidential directive. Instead of utilizing the fall for extending the main canal as far north as the Willow Creek Canyon, the Adler Construction Co., is marking time. The delay, even though it may not be longer than to give time for action of a screening commission of the federal government, which we are told will pass on all work that has been halted and give the "green light" where such is merited; yet, this delay, though comparatively short, may prevent the transition, which we now behold around Culver, from occurring next year.

We have a system sufficiently completed to store up the needed water. We have built the expensive and difficult stretches of the main canal. The water is available, and the land is ready to receive it. The nation and the world needs food. The agencies of government, which we would like to look upon as responsible, have time after time told us that the water would be ready for the land, a part of it in 1947 and all of it by 1948.

And then, we are abashed and shocked when an executive directive, issued without provision for application of flexible modifications, halts the system of the Jefferson County Water Conservancy district and in effects causes a bureau of the government to break solen promises.

50 YEARS AGO

September 9, 1971

There were a few minutes late Labor Day afternoon when elementary school students living near the Warm Springs School wondered if they would actually be in class Tuesday morning.

Smoke issued from the outside door of the supply room and the volunteer firemen had gone in with hose and other equipment.

The pupil's hope or despair was short-lived. The fire was extinguished before it reached the combustible solvents, waxes, paints, and cleaning supplies in the room. About a dozen reams of paper, a plastic can and several mops were apparently the only losses other than damage to a corner of the room.

25 YEARS AGO

September 11, 1996

The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs are suing the U.S. government over a 1990 timber sale that was administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

One of the lawsuits, filed in May of this year, seeks $15 million in damages.

This suit is based on the tribes' allegation that the BIA allowed logging companies to harvest undamaged, green timber on the reservation that should not have been taken.

The timber sale was intended, according to the tribes, to be a salvage operation targeted at trees damaged in a windstorm in 1990.

In a separate lawsuit, filed against the U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbit, the tribes are seeking documents related to the Blowdown Timber sale.

The Interior Department is claiming that the documents do not have to be made available to the tribes.

The Interior Department's position is that exceptions to the Freedom of Information Act apply.

Attorneys for the tribes and the Interior Department gave oral arguments on the documents in federal court in Portland on Monday of this week.


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