Cantwell, Merkley, Colleagues Announce $2 Million Economic Revitalization Grant for Columbia River Gorge

EDMONDS, WA – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR),  in announcing $2 million in federal funding for the Columbia River Gorge to support economic revitalization efforts. The announcement is the culmination of a years-long effort to fulfill a promise made when Congress passed the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act. In 1986, the bill was signed into law, authorizing $10 million for economic development along the Columbia River Gorge, yet only $8 million of those funds ended up being appropriated. This $2 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture fulfills the federal government’s promise.

“The Columbia Gorge is a unique part of our country,” Cantwell said. “The new federal revolving loan fund will help fund economic development projects like supporting critical water infrastructure improvements needed to expand the Dallesport industrial park area and attract more small businesses to Skamania County.”

Most of the $2 million—$1,901,000—will capitalize existing revolving business loan programs in the Gorge through the Oregon Investment Board and the Washington Investment Board. The boards are administered by the Mid-Columbia Economic Development District (MCEDD) and Skamania County Economic Development Council, respectively. The remaining $99,000 will be used for infrastructure buildout in an industrial area in Dallesport, WA.

Senator Cantwell and colleagues have long pushed for increased funding for the Columbia River Gorge. In December 2018, Cantwell signed a letter to then USDA Secretary Purdue in support of this funding. In July 2021, Senator Cantwell joined a bipartisan group of colleagues in sending a letter to USDA Secretary Vilsack in support of the $2 million grant.

In addition to Senators Cantwell (D-WA), Merkley (D-OR), Murray (D-WA), and Wyden (D-OR), the grant was also supported by Representative Jaime Herrera-Beutler (R, WA-03) and Representative Cliff Bentz (R, OR-02).