AT&T, Union Pacific projects impact culturally significant sites

By the CUJ
MISSION – The Confederated Tribes have negotiated mitigation agreements with AT&T and Union Pacific Railroad to mitigate for impacts to culturally significant sites caused by construction projects in Umatilla and Gilliam counties, respectively.

Both companies will contribute to the First Foods Fund, which is managed by the Cultural Resources Protection Program (CRRP) for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR).

Such mitigation agreements are a common practice between the CTUIR and companies when construction impacts culturally significant resources.

AT&T will mitigate for impacts to sites caused by construction of a telecommunications facility on private land on Battle Mountain about 10 miles southwest on Pilot Rock in Umatilla County. Union Pacific will mitigate for impacts to sites near Blalock Canyon about eight miles downriver from Arlington in Gilliam County.

The one-time lump sum payments, the amounts of which are confidential, will be used by CRRP to conduct traditional use studies. The AT&T mitigation funds will be used to study the Battle Mountain area; the Union Pacific funds will be used to conduct a study at a location yet to be determined, according to agreement documents.

AT&T, through New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC, a Delaware company, plans to construct a facility consisting of a 180-foot tall self-support steel lattice tower and various cabinets and vaults within a 60-foot by 60-foot compound, as well as utilities and an access route.

Union Pacific plans to construct a 100-foot tall steel lattice positive train control tower in their right of way.

Both construction projects require compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act.

CRRP has identified impacts to National Register eligible historic properties of religious and cultural significance within the viewshed of the telecommunications facility. The CRRP has also identified, through viewshed modeling and simulated photographs, that the Union Pacific project will adversely affect several culturally significant historic properties by altering the “characteristics of setting and feeling.”