Lake Roosevelt
Administrative History
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Agreements and Disagreements: From Tri-Party Agreement to Multi-Party Agreement (continued)

Tri-Party Agreement

The uncertainty that had clouded jurisdictional issues for several years dissipated immediately, and federal agencies revived their work on a cooperative agreement. Park Service Director Drury sent a copy of the Solicitor's opinion to Regional Director Owen A. Tomlinson asking for his opinion on areas to be set aside for paramount use of the Indians. Although it was primarily the responsibility of Reclamation and the OIA to delineate these areas, Drury suggested that it would be good for the Park Service to be involved in these discussions. He also urged Tomlinson to revise the draft agreement of September 26, 1941, and have it reviewed by the other agencies. If necessary, the Park Service could negotiate separate agreements with Reclamation and the OIA. [28]

Banks pushed for a commitment from the Park Service, causing it to pull back temporarily. Greider and Raymond E. Hoyt, Regional Chief, Recreation Study Division, had a meeting with Banks on February 16, 1946. When they arrived, they found that not only had he invited Reclamation and OIA officials, but he also expected Hoyt to work out the interbureau agreement so that the Park Service could take over management of the recreation area on July 1st. Both Hoyt and Greider made it clear that they were not aware of these plans and furthermore, they had no authority to commit the Park Service to this. Banks, in turn, was unhappy when he found out that the agency had not budgeted any funds to cover the costs of administering the area in FY1947. Despite these disagreements, the federal representatives reached consensus that one agency should have administrative responsibility for the entire area, including commercial operations. The only exception to this was that the OIA would retain control of agricultural and grazing permits in the Indian Zones. The points discussed that day formed the basis for the eventual agreement. Banks scheduled another meeting for the following month, and Park Service officials realized he wanted action. "The attitude of the Bureau people was one of wishing to be relieved of all administrative responsibility above the dam," noted Hoyt. "We feel from their remarks that they will insist that the National Park Service assume the entire responsibility." [29]

Negotiations continued, and on April 8, 1946, twenty-three people met at Coulee Dam to prepare a final draft of the interbureau agreement, including Supervising Engineer Frank A. Banks, Right-of-Way Engineer Thoralf Torkelson, and Regional Counsel H. Stinson for Reclamation; Herbert Maier, Raymond E. Hoyt, George Collins, and Claude E. Greider for the Park Service; and the superintendents of the Colville and Spokane reservations, other OIA officials, and various members of the tribal councils representing Indian interests. Using a memo from Hillory Tolson as a guide, Maier was pleased to report that seven hours of negotiations produced an agreement that incorporated nearly all of the Park Service proposals. After considerable discussion of a name, the delegates agreed on Coulee Dam Recreational Area. A more difficult point involved funding. Banks argued that Reclamation should not have to fund the work since the Park Service was responsible for recreation development and administration. Maier countered that the agency could not request funding for developing and administering an area that was not part of the National Park System. Banks conceded this point, but Maier noted, "It is my feeling that Mr. Banks acquiesced only with the thought in mind that when he transmits the draft to the Commissioner he will suggest further consideration of this item before final submission to the Secretary." [30]

The OIA continued to have some reservations about the agreement. The agency insisted that it be designated to issue permits and administer log dumping operations within the Indian Zones, after consultation with the Park Service. More importantly, Acting Commissioner John McGue maintained that since Indian rights had not yet been defined, he hesitated to sign a document that might be viewed later as a departmental interpretation of these rights. Until the Secretary defined these rights, McGue wanted the agreement to include "a specific provision to the effect that nothing therein contained shall be construed as a waiver of any rights the Indians may have." [31] This statement was included in the final agreement.

Map showing Reclamation, Recreation, and Reservation zones at Lake Roosevelt. Although the map is dated 1990, the zones are essentially the same as the Reclamation, Recreation, and Indian zones defined in the 1946 Tri-Party Agreement. (U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Exhibit A, Lake Roosevelt Cooperative Management Area, 9 March 1990. USBR Archives 222-117-19083.)

Both tribal councils passed resolutions approving the April 1946 draft MOA, but they also voiced concern. In fact, the Colville Business Council passed a second resolution the same day asking that Indians of both reservations be allowed to hunt and fish within the Indian Zones without being charged for a license. In addition, they wanted access to, and the right to build and operate, docking facilities within their zones, as well as the right to rent and operate boats without paying any fees. If their paramount interests were later found to be in jeopardy, they requested that the Secretary set aside all or part of the Indian Zones for their exclusive use. [32]

The final MOA, known as the Tri-Party Agreement, was signed on December 18, 1946. It divided the reservoir area into three zones: Reclamation, Recreation, and Indian. The Bureau retained jurisdiction over activities in the Reclamation Zone, including recreation, although the agency was to consult with the Park Service on development of any recreational facilities there. The OIA had responsibility for both the Colville and Spokane Indian Zones, including issuing agriculture, grazing, and log dump permits; fire prevention; and construction and maintenance, in consultation with the Park Service, of any structures needed in conjunction with Indians' paramount rights. The OIA also agreed to provide the Park Service with any help needed in its relations with individual Indians at the new recreation area. [33]

A large portion of the agreement spelled out Park Service duties in the new recreation area. One of the primary functions, of course, was developing and implementing plans for facilities throughout the recreation area. In addition, the Park Service agreed to consult with the OIA in locating and protecting potential recreation sites in the Indian Zones. The agency was also directed to establish policies covering uses of all the land in the recreation area, except for agriculture and grazing in the Indian Zones and special hunting, fishing, and boating rights of Indians. The Park Service took responsibility for issuing and administering permits for special uses, including industrial and recreational, for all the land in the recreation area, and grazing and agricultural uses for lands outside the Indian Zones. The agreement also designated the Park Service as the agency to promulgate rules and regulations governing public uses and protection of resources. Finally, the Park Service agreed to advise both Reclamation and the OIA in recreation matters in their respective zones. [34]

While the federal agencies were still fine-tuning their final agreement at Lake Roosevelt, Congress passed a law that added legitimacy to Park Service administration of the recreation area. Public Law 633, passed August 7, 1946, authorized Park Service appropriations for "Administration, protection, improvement, and maintenance of areas, under the jurisdiction of other agencies of the Government, devoted to recreational use pursuant to cooperative agreements." [35] The Secretary of the Interior issued a statement in July 1947 on the Department's policy for recreation development and administration at Reclamation reservoirs. The Park Service would assist Reclamation on a reimbursable basis to develop preliminary plans for recreational facilities at reservoir areas. As part of this work, the Park Service would submit estimates of construction costs to Reclamation to be included in the annual costs of reservoir construction. If funded by Congress, the Park Service would agree to build these recreational facilities. This information left both Greider and Banks scrambling to determine how it applied to Coulee Dam Recreational Area. Both had just submitted their 1949 estimates to their respective regional offices, and they wondered if Reclamation was to cover Park Service estimates. Regional Director Tomlinson reassured Greider that he believed this new policy did not apply to recreational areas already taken over by the Park Service, so the budgets remained unaltered. [36]

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Last Updated: 22-Apr-2003