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Depot land inches closer to local control

The Umatilla Chemical Weapons Depot, operated by the U.S. Army. Photo: U.S. Department of Energy

BOARDMAN, Oregon – One of the final hurdles to taking possession of the Umatilla Chemical Weapons Depot land from the U.S. Army has been cleared. Columbia Development Authority Executive Director Greg Smith says the CDA Board of Directors and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation Board of Trustees have reached an agreement on wildlife and historical site management.

“They have both voted to pass a memorandum of agreement that will transfer cultural resources and portions of habitat area to the tribe,” he said.

Work on turning the land over from the federal government to local control began 31 years ago. Smith said all that remains is having attorneys go over the agreement.

“We’re finalizing some language that will go into the final agreement,” he said. “Once that is completed, we’re done.”

Smith said the CDA has worked hard to meet deadlines in the process, but the same is not true for the government. For that reason, he’s hesitant to hazard a guess as to when the turnover will actually occur.

CDA’s board is comprised of representatives from both Umatilla and Morrow counties as well as the ports of Morrow and Umatilla, and the CTUIR. The depot closed in 2012 after its weapon stockpiles were destroyed. The local plan for development includes a 7,500-acre Oregon National Guard training facility, a 5,700-acre refuge, and 3,965 acres of industrial, agricultural and right of way development.

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