News

Tribes, state parks, neighbors and Chelan PUD work together to protect cultural site

by Kimberlee Craig | Apr 03, 2020

Sandstone formations thought to be 46 million years old are gaining additional protection with plans to reroute two Chelan PUD transmission lines around Peshastin Pinnacles State Park. Construction is set to start in May.

The rocks are significant sites in Native American culture. Working together to protect them was paramount as Chelan PUD faced mandated upgrades to the lines that pass through the park.

“Because of the risk of damage to the rock formations, and because as good stewards we must care for the natural resources affected by our operations, we determined rerouting the lines outside the park is the most cost-effective and preferred solution,” said Steve Wickel, transmission engineering manager.

In 2010, new reliability standards required Chelan PUD to assess all of its transmission lines. Engineers found that the sections in the park needed replacing with taller poles due to inadequate clearance, Wickel said.

Working with members of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, state parks officials, other agencies and neighboring landowners, Chelan PUD identified a new route for the taller poles, to run behind and around the park. (See map.)

Construction is set to start in May. The first phase will go through July 30, and then pause to reduce traffic during wildfire and harvest seasons. Work will resume Oct. 1 and plans are to finish by Nov. 30. If not finished, work would then resume in in May 2021 until finished, Wickel said.

Potelco of Sumner, Wash., will build the 0.8-mile section of high-voltage lines for the $2.4 million project.

The park, closed now due to COVID-19, will remain closed for the project duration.

Guy Moura, tribal historic preservation officer for the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, said the tribes and Chelan PUD have developed a good working relationship on this and other projects.

“This is a very significant site, a legendary site for the Colville Confederated Tribes,” Moura told PUD commissioners at their meeting earlier this week. (At 00:04 on the board meeting audio recording.) He thanked Jennifer Burns, PUD environmental/cultural program manager, in particular for her efforts to protect the pinnacles.

“We appreciate all the efforts on Jennifer’s behalf to protect those rock formations, which really are quite fragile,” he said.

“The Colville Confederated Tribes greatly appreciate the effort that was made,” Moura added. “I think it is close to precedent setting, and thank you all very much – the individuals and PUD at large – for all those efforts.”

The collaboration also was cited by a national cultural preservation group as a key factor in awarding Chelan PUD the 2019 American Cultural Resources Association (ACRA) Industry Award for its outstanding commitment to protecting cultural resources.

PUD Commissioner Dennis Bolz thanked all the parties involved for “exemplary” effort in working together. “Job well done,” Bolz said. “Thank you very much to everyone on your efforts.”

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