Lake Roosevelt
Administrative History
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From Simple to Complex: Cultural Resource Management (continued)

Impact of Third Powerhouse Construction

Funding possibilities for archaeological work at LARO improved with Reclamation's construction of a third powerhouse at Grand Coulee Dam. To facilitate building this project, the agency needed to dramatically lower the water in Lake Roosevelt each spring, an action that would expose hundreds of archaeological sites never before recorded. To prepare for this anticipated archaeological bonanza, the Western Regional Office funded WSU for the 1966 and 1967 seasons to do survey work around much of the reservoir. The Park Service continued the same funding arrangement for two more years as the lake levels dropped. [18]

Late in 1967, the Park Service initiated discussions with Reclamation about additional funding for a major archaeological salvage program at Lake Roosevelt during the powerhouse construction. Regional Archeologist Paul J. F. Schumacher stressed the importance of the sites that would be exposed and recommended that Reclamation provide $37,000 per year in 1968, 1969, and 1973, the years of the lowest expected drawdowns. He also requested $17,000 for each of the other three years, bringing the total to $162,000. The expenses were higher than normal since they would need to hire a field crew on the open market instead of being able to use low-cost student workers who were available only during the summer months. [19]

Kettle Falls
Aerial view of Kettle Falls, partially exposed during drawdown in April 1969. The large drawdowns during construction of the third powerhouse enabled archaeologists to reach previously inundated sites, including some particularly significant ones at Kettle Falls. Photo courtesy of U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Grand Coulee (USBR Archives P1222-142-45-46).

Reclamation initially refused this request, saying that it was not mandated to fund such work in the Columbia Basin. Schumacher pointed out that the Public Works Act each year specifically made Reclamation appropriations available to cover costs of archaeological and paleontological projects. In addition, he said that the Park Service could not afford to do salvage work for sites threatened by other agencies, but it could offer advice, inspection of salvage archaeology, and review of technical reports from the salvage projects. Although the budget for the third powerhouse was "extremely tight," Reclamation managed to find $5,000 for archaeological salvage work in the FY1968 budget and expected it could make similar adjustments in FY1969. Schumacher stressed the need to have a crew in the field during the 1968 drawdown to show pot hunters that both federal agencies and professionals were interested in preserving the local heritage. He requested substantially more money for subsequent years. [20]

The drawdowns for the powerhouse project during the late 1960s and early 1970s spurred significant archaeological work at Lake Roosevelt. Supervision changed from WSU to the University of Idaho in 1970, about the time Reclamation assumed responsibility for funding the work. Projects included extensive surveys around the reservoir and excavations concentrated in the Kettle Falls area. Archaeologist David Chance provided the primary field supervision for crews working at several sites connected with the fishery at Kettle Falls. Analysis of the features recorded there and materials recovered over several years of work enabled Chance and others to develop a local cultural sequence using artifact assemblages; develop a dated cultural chronology that indicated use of the site starting ca. 9,000 years ago; and describe the earliest known subsistence-settlement patterns in the reservoir area. In addition to prehistoric sites, archaeologists also conducted extensive investigations during the drawdowns at the site of Fort Colvile, the Hudson's Bay Company trading post near Kettle Falls. Work during several seasons helped provide information about building design and fort layout as well as details about both Indian and non-Indian life at the fort. [21]

Part of Takumakst (the Fishery), an Indian village at Kettle Falls, 1861. This site was partially excavated during the drawdowns for the third powerhouse construction. Photo courtesy of National Park Service, Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area (LARO 3246).

Funding achieved a certain stability by the mid-1970s. Prior to 1976, appropriations from Reclamation for archaeological work at Lake Roosevelt had been on an annual basis, with the Bureau funding the Park Service which, in turn, contracted with the University of Idaho for the salvage work. For instance, the contract in 1971 amounted to $30,000 to be spent primarily on work at Fort Colvile and five prehistoric sites. In 1976, Reclamation began contracting directly with the University of Idaho. The first contract covered three years, providing a financial predictability that aided both field work and analysis. [22]

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Last Updated: 22-Apr-2003