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Washington Dam Construction and Water Diversion, Initiative 25 (1960)

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The Washington Dam Construction and Water Diversion Initiative, also known as Initiative 25, was on the November 8, 1960 ballot in Washington as an Initiative to the Legislature, where it was approved. The measure prohibited the construction of any obstruction over twenty-five feet high on any tributary stream of the Columbia River downstream from McNary Dam, as well as the diversion of water from any of these tributaries exceeding limits devised by the Directors of Fisheries and Game.[1]

Election results

Washington Initiative 25 (1960)
Approveda Yes 526,130 52.1%

Election results via: Washington Secretary of State

Text of measure

The language appeared on the ballot as:[1]

AN ACT Prohibiting the construction or operation of any dam or other obstruction over 25 feet high on any tributary stream of the Columbia River down stream from McNary Dam within the migration range of anadromous fish, except on the North Fork of the Lewis River and White Salmon River, and prohibiting diversion of water from such stream in such quantities as will reduce the flow below the annual average low flow without concurrent approval of the Directors of Fisheries and Game.[2]



The following reasons were given in support of Initiative 25 in the Washington 1960 Voters' Guide:[3]

INITIATIVE 25 ASKS THAT: 3% of the 255,000 sq. miles of the Columbia River Watershed be reserved for Salmon and Steelhead reproduction by reestablishing the Sanctuary created by the Legislature in 1949 (by votes of 47-1 in the Senate and 76-23 in the House). An oversight in the original bill omitted "Municipalities." Initiative 25 places Municipalities on the same basis as all others. No other portion of the existing law is changed.

INITIATIVE 25 IS NECESSARY to protect a 25 million dollar annual fishery. Its loss will seriously deplete the salmon fishing from Alaska to California and will destroy steelheading in lower Columbia streams. All of the existing hatcheries cannot equal the spawning potential of the Sanctuary.

HIGH DAMS KILL FISH: Even if the upstream spawners climb the ladders, baby fish are killed going over the spillways and through the turbines. All state and Federal fishery agencies have expressed the vital need for salmon and steelhead sanctuaries. No competely successful fish passage ways have been devised . . . even after 30 years of experimenting.

INITIATIVE 25 WILL NOT AFFECT THE POWER POTENTIAL: Less than 1% of the power potential is involved. There are no completed dams in the Sanctuary. None can be built whose costs of production will not exceed by more than double the ample power for sale by Bonneville Power Administration. There are at least 108 existing and proposed dams on the Columbia that will not be affected by the Initiative. And Atomic power is coming.

FOR YOUR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION a 16 m.m. sound, colored movie is available. Write or call: Fred Habernich, 2021 1st Ave., Seattle. Phone MA 4-4655.[2]

The arguments in favor of Initiative 25 were prepared by:[1]

  • Robert E. Colewell, Chairman, Washington State Sportsmen's Council
  • Thomas O. Wimmer, Washington State Sportsmen's Council
  • Ken McLeod, Washington State Sportsmen's Council



The following reasons were given in opposition to Initiative 25 in the Washington 1960 Voters' Guide:[3]

Your vote against this initiative will assure the development of new recreational areas, a fine tourist attraction, more inexpensive electric power, flood control in the lower Cowlitz valley, and a little more depth in the river for boating. By voting against No. 25 you will help put the Cowlitz River to work for all the people of our state.

Over 400 men are now at work on this project, earning payrolls which exceed $3,200,000 yearly. The people of our state, through the municipally-owned utility in Tacoma, already have invested millions of dollars to build two dams on this river between Centralia and Morton. One dam, which will cost over $37,000,000, is almost 70 per cent completed. Contracts have been signed to complete it. None of the costs come from taxes.

Acting in good faith, the people of Tacoma began building these dams in 1955. The United States Supreme Court has ruled twice that the City has a legal right to complete the dams. The Federal Power Commission of the United States, after exhaustive studies and hearings, has determined that the construction of the Cowlitz dams is the best development of the river for all purposes.

A new state park and other recreational facilities for camping, boating, picnicking, swimming and fishing are planned around the lake which will be formed behind the dam now being finished. This lake will be more than 13 miles long. Both dams will provide fine tourist attractions on the route from US 99 to Chinook and White Passes and to Mount Rainier.

Flood control will be established below the dams.

Protection of the fisheries resource is a foremost feature of the Cowlitz project. Tacoma is building a modern hatchery for the Game Department near Mossyrock. This replaces an obsolete hatchery. Federal and state fisheries agencies have approved the functional designs for facilities to get fish past the dams on their way up and down the river.[2]

The arguments against Initiative 25 were prepared by:[1]

  • Ed M. Weston, President, Washington State Labor Council
  • A. Lars Nelson, Master, Washington State Grange
  • Ben Hanson, Mayor, City of Tacoma

Path to the ballot

Signatures were filed to qualify the measure for the ballot to be sent to the legislature. When the legislature did not take action on the proposed legislation, the measure was placed on the ballot as provided by the state constitution.[4]

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See also

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External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Office of the Secretary of State, "1960 Voters Pamphlet," accessed September 9, 2013
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  3. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named votersguide
  4. Washington Secretary of State, "Initiatives to the Legislature," accessed September 9, 2013