The Dalles Lock & Dam Tribal Housing Village Development Plan

The Dalles Lock & Dam

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is preparing a Village Development Plan (VDP) that will identify a suitable location near The Dalles Lock and Dam, and the cost to design and construct a tribal village for members of the four Columbia River Treaty Tribes: the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation; the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation; the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation; and the Nez Perce Tribe.

The Flood Control Act of 1950, which authorized the construction of The Dalles Lock and Dam, also authorized the construction of a replacement village to compensate for the loss of tribal villages at Celilo, Oregon, and Spearfish, Washington. These villages were inundated in 1957 when the Corps completed construction of the dam. In 2016, the Department of the Army determined that this authority has not been used.

The Corps recognizes tribal governments are sovereign entities, and will work to meet trust obligations, protect trust resources, and obtain tribal views of trust and treaty responsibilities as we prepare the VDP. We will engage in government-to-government consultation with each of the Treaty Tribes and incorporate their feedback into the Plan.

The Village Development Plan

The Village Development Plan will identify a location, conceptual layout, and the cost to design and construct a tribal village. The Village Development Plan is scheduled to be completed by autumn of 2020.

Two possible sites have been identified and will be evaluated in an Environmental Assessment as we prepare the VDP. A portion of a property owned by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources south of the City of Goldendale and a privately-owned property for sale near Wishram, will be evaluated to determine which is most suitable for community development.

The actions necessary to complete the plan include:

  • Tribal consultation

  • Public outreach and participation

  • Site selection

  • Environmental review

  • Preliminary design, cost estimate and schedule

If approved, the Corps will submit the VDP through the federal appropriations process for funding.

Interagency coordination

The U.S. Army and the U.S. Department of the Interior signed a Memorandum of Agreement in January 2017. This document provides the structure of how the Corps and the Bureau of Indian Affairs will work together on a plan for the construction, operation, maintenance and administration of a tribal village on the Columbia River. The Memorandum of Agreement also commits the agencies to work out these issues prior to construction. The Corps is the lead agency in the site location review and planning process and is the primary contact for tribal consultation and public engagement.

Preparing the environmental assessment

The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 is one of the nation’s oldest environmental laws that encourages federal agencies to make environmentally responsible decisions. NEPA requires federal agencies to consider and disclose the environmental effects of their proposed actions. For the Village Development Plan we are preparing an environmental assessment. The environmental assessment will be integrated into the VDP and will evaluate the impacts from development of a tribal village. There are many technical, design and environmental factors to address throughout the planning of this project, including

  • Tribal needs

  • Community concerns

  • Impacts to natural resources, including:

    • Vegetation, including species listed under the Endangered Species Act

    • Wetlands

    • Water quality

    • Fish and wildlife Resources, including migratory birds and species listed under the ESA

    • Air quality

  • Impacts historic and cultural resources

  • Land availability and acquisition 

  • Land use, including impacts to recreation

  • Infrastructure, such as:

    • Utilities

    • Transportation

    • Emergency Services

  • Permitting

  • Funding

Project timeline - subject to change

2017 - 2020 Environmental compliance, consultation regarding potential cultural resources, develop conceptual layouts
2020 More public meetings and formal comment period for the draft integrated plan and environmental assessment
2021 Submit plan to USACE HQ

Stay Informed, Be Involved

Public engagement is essential to the Village Development Plan and will help to inform our design and site selection process.

The Corps will share information about the VDP early in the planning process, and create opportunities to collect information from the tribes, interested members of the public and other stakeholders about issues to consider in the analysis of potential environmental impacts and development of the plan. Additionally, the Corps will provide a 30-day public comment period for the draft VDP and will host a public meeting during the 30-day comment period. Specific dates, times and locations of the meetings will be announced in news releases issued to the local and regional news media, as well as on the Corps’ Portland District web site and Facebook

More detailed information about this project, public meeting dates and other opportunities to provide input will be available on this web page.