Willamette Falls Locks receives $500K from Oregon Legislature

From: Tim Heider, Clackamas County Public Affairs Manager, 971-219-7271

Media and Interested Parties

Clackamas County will receive $500,000 on behalf of the Willamette Falls Locks Working Group to support an economic-potential study and to explore potential limited temporary repairs for the Willamette Falls Locks, which have been closed since 2011.

Governor Kate Brown approved the funds this past Tuesday by signing HB 5202 and SB 5701, which were passed by the Oregon Legislature earlier this month.

The Working Group — a coalition of regional advocates in supporting the repair and reopening of the facility — made the funding request during the 2016 legislative session. Clackamas County Commissioner Tootie Smith is co-chair of the group.

"This funding is a big victory for local communities advocating for the repair and reopening of the Locks," said Smith. "Thanks to the leadership of Senator Richard Devlin and Governor Kate Brown, we are getting closer to seeing our goals become a reality."

"We believe this is a great opportunity to support economic development in the area and also another chance to continue our great working relationship with the Corps," she continued.

During its testimony to the legislature, the Working Group recommended funding an economic-potential study to assess the value of repairing and operating the Locks, along with working with the Corps for stopgap repairs needed to reopen the Locks for temporary and minimal usage to demonstrate potential economic viability.

The group intends to seek out a local match of $100,000 dedicated to the economic-potential study (for a total of $200,000), leaving $400,000 for the stopgap repairs. Staff to the Working Group are collaborating with the Army Corps of Engineers to assess possible uses of the repair funds.

This state funding compliments the Legislature's creation of the Willamette Falls Locks State Task Force in 2015. The Task Force is studying the state's level of interest in the Locks and will report its findings to the Legislature in 2017.

Clackamas County identified Locks repairs as a priority on its 2016 State Legislative Agenda and actively advocated for the request throughout the session.

The Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the Locks, closed them five years ago for life-safety reasons. The Locks first opened in 1873.

For more information, members of the media and public may contact Public Affairs Manager Tim Heider at 971-219-7271.