COLUMBIA RIVER BASIN  PROJECT
              For  Water Supply  and  Water  Qualitv Management
                       GRANDE RONDE RIVER BASIN
                         UNION COUNTY,  OREGON
DATE:  April, 1961

 Prepared  by  	

 Reviewed  by  	

 Approved  by  	
Project Staff
Cooperating Agencies

                          Public Health  Service
                                Region IX

             Division of Water Supply and Pollution Control
                            570 Pittock  Block
                            Portland 5,  Oregon

This working paper contains preliminary data and information

primarily intended for internal use by the Columbia River

Basin Project staff and cooperating agencies.  The material

presented in this paper has not been fully evaluated and

should not be considered as final.

              Table of Contents

A.  Purpose and Scope of Survey

B.  Study Area and Study Period

C.  Geography of Study Area

D.  Land and Water Uses

E.  Existing Economic Base

     1.  Population

     2.  Industry, Agriculture, and Employment

P.  Potential Growth

G.  Potential Land and Water Uses

H.  Conclusions

ADDENDUM No. 1 - Memorandum, November 29,  1961:
Population Forecast for the Grande Ronde River
Basin, Union County, Oregon.
    Prepared by:  Economic Studies Group
                  Water Supply and Pollution Control
                    Program, Pacific Northwest
                  April, 1961

                                                       April, 1961
                   GRANDE RONDE RIVER BASIN
                     UNION COUNTY, OREGON
A.  Purpose and Scope of Survey

This survey is for the purpose of providing basic data about the economy
of the Grande Ronde River Basin.  This data will be utilized in the
preparation of the water supply and pollution control recommendations of
the U. S. Public Health Service for the Grande Ronde River.  These
recommendations ware requested by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers in
connection with their evaluation of projects in this area.  This survey
is of a recor.naiseance nature and is intended only to describe the general
nature of the economy and the major possibilities for change.  Although
existing reports and statistics provide the basis for most of the survey,
a number of specific economic growth factors have been explored on a
reconnaissance basis with appropriate agencies having knowledge of phases
of the economy.

B.  Study Area and Study Period

For the purpose of this survey, the study area has been defined as Union
County, Oregon, and its major communities.  The study period is the
50-year period ending in 2010.

C.  Geography of Study Area

The Grande Ronde River is the principal water course in Union County.
It is flanked by the Blue Mountains and the WaiIowa Mountains.  The
Grande Ronde River Basin in the center of the county occupies about
360 square miles.  This basin is nearly flat and receives an annual rain-
fall of about 20 inches.  The growing season on the basin floor is about
160 days.

A more detailed description of the general physical features, climate,
and history of the study area is available in the March 1955 U. S. Bureau
of Reclamation report entitled  'Grande Ronde Project, Oregon7'.

D.  Land and Water Uses

Union County contains about 1.3 million acres of land.  About 60 percent
of this is classed as commercial forest land and about 15 percent is
cropland.  The major land cover classifications of the county are
described in Table 1.

                            Table 1
Forest Land
  Ponderosa pine                                 253,940
  Other                                          524,690
Noncommercial                                                   43,390

Nonforest Land

Vegetative land (cultivated, grass or brush)                   439,560
Nonvegetative land (including barrens and cities)               36,660
Reservoirs                                                       1.260

  TOTAL, all land                                            1,229,500

Source:  Forest Statistics for Umatilla and Union Counties, Oregon,
Forest Survey Report 135, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment
Station, Forest Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture, April 1960.

Present uses for water in the county are for municipal and industrial
water supplies, irrigation, recreation, and the conveyance of treated
sewage effluent.  Irrigation use is limited to serving 3,300 acres with
a full water supply, and about eight times this acreage with a partial
supply.  Recreational use of water is considerable in the mountain areas,
but on the floor of the basin is limited to steelhead and trout fishing.

E.  Existing Economic Base

     1.  Population

     The population of Union County has been relatively stable since
1900.  Between 1950 and 1960, the county's population increased 0.7 per-
cent compared to Oregon's growth of 15.5 percent and a national growth
of 18.5 percent.  Half of the county's 1960 population resided in LaGrande
and about a third lived outside the four major communities of the county.
Population trends and distribution for Union County are shown in Table 2.

                            Table  2

                        Number of Persons
               1890    1900    1910    1920    1930    1940    1950    1960

County Total  12,044  16,070  16,191  16,636  17,492  17,399  17,962  13,180
LaGrande       2,583   2,991   4,843   6,913   8,050   7,747   8,635   9,014
Union            604     937   1,483   1,319   1,107   1,398   1,307   1,490
Cove             223           433     399     307     321     282     311
Elgin            227     603   1,120   1,043     728     997   1,223   1,315
Remainder of
  County       8,407     --    8,312   6,962   7,300   6,936   6,515   6,050

               Distribution of Population in 1960

                   LaGrande            49.6%
                   Union                8.2
                   Cove                 1.7
                   Elgin                7.2
                   Other               33.3

Source;  Based on population counts by the U. S. Bureau of Census.

     2.  Industry, Agriculture, and Employment

     Agriculture and forest products are the major basis for the county's
economic activity.  The distribution of employment for 1950 is shown in
Table 3.  This Table indicates that agriculture is the largest employer and
lumber and wood products manufacturing is second among the basic or primary
industries.  The large number of workers in the category of "Transportation
and utilities" include the Union Pacific Railroad shops at LaGrande.
                            Table  3
                                                  Number of workers
     All employed                                             6,598
     Agriculture                                              1,391
     Forestry, Fisheries, Mining                                 31
     Construction                                               401
     Manufacturing                                              948
       Food and Kindred                             122
       Lumber and Wood Products                     699
       Other                                        127
     Transportation and Utilities                               876
     Trade                                                    1,189
       Wholesale                                    183
       Retail                                     1,006
     Other                                                      573
Source:  1950 Census of Population, U. S. Bureau of the Census.

     Examination of the statistics of workers "'covered" by the Oregon
Employment Security Law indicates that there has been little change in
the employment pattern since 1950.  An exception is that the Union Pacific
shops have been moved fronLaGrande.  In addition there has been a small
amount of growth among the various secondary industries such as trade and
services.  From examination of the 1959 Census of Agriculture there is
also an indication that there is a downward trend in agricultural employ-
ment.  Unfortunately the detailed statistics of 1960 Census of Population
are not yet available to confirm these trends.

     The forest products industry of the county is based on the large
forested areas in and adjacent to the county.  As indicated in Table 1,
about 60 percent of the county's land is classed as commercial forest
land and about half of this is in Ponderosa pine.  The timber harvest in
1959 was slightly over 110 million board feet (Scribner log rule).  Almost
three-fourths of this was from private lands.  The pattern of recent years
has been similar to this.  Manufacturing of forest products is confined
to lumber, furniture, and millwork.

     The present agriculture of the county is mainly based on the pro-
duction of small grains and seed.  The land use of agricultural land is
described in Table 4.  Of the acreage indicated for cropland harvested,
about half was devoted to small grains in 1959, about one-third to hay
(mainly alfalfa) and significant amounts Co seed crops, peas, and vege-
tables.  The Bureau of Reclamation has estimated that the study area
includes a total of 150,000 acres of agricultural lands.  Although the
1959 Census of Agriculture indicates that 27,000 acres were irrigated,
only about one-eighth of these were considered to have an adequate supply.

                           Table 4
Number of farms	
Average size of farm, acres
Land in farms, acres 	 527,355
Cropland harvested, acres 	 107,501
Cropland used only for pasture, acres 	  21,085
Cropland not harvested or pastured, acres 	  48,662
Cropland summer fallow, cultivated, acres 	 (35,285)
Woodland pastured, acres 	  19,590
Other pasture, acres 	 174,324
Irrigated land in farms, acres 	  27,073

Source:  1959 Census of Agriculture

     The mineral industry of the county is almost entirely confined to
materials for the construction industry.  The 1959 value of mineral pro-
duction was $663,000, which is slightly over 1 percent of the State's
total production of minerals.  The county's mineral products, listed in
order of value, are as follows:  stone, sand and gravel, clays,, gold.

     Employment in transportation and utilities has been reduced by
several hundred persons since 1950 because the Union Pacific Railroad
abolished its shops at LaGrande.  Employment in this category at the
present time is limited to that required to serve the local area.
The remaining categories, which account for about half the total employ-
ment, are also considered to be of a service or secondary nature.  Part
of this employment, however, is in activities which benefit from tourists
and the recreational opportunities of the adjoining WaiIowa and Blue

F.  Potential Growth

Three principal possibilities for growth are considered likely.  The net
result of all three is anticipated to produce only a small increase in
the study area's population during the study period.  This increase is
considered to be of about the same (or slightly greater) order of magni-
tude as the area's historical growth trends.

Agriculture on much of the basin floor is anticipated to gradually
convert to irrigation if satisfactory water supplies are made available.
The Grande Ronde Project, as described in the March 1955 report of the
U. S. Bureau of Reclamation, proposed to irrigate almost 59,000 acres.
This project was not carried out because of the lack of desire 'of local
residents to alter their cropping practices.  The land limitation of 160
acres per person was probably also a major contributor to the reluctance
to participate in the project.  Although much of the same sentiment towards
irrigation still exists, it is considered likely that a gradual shift
would take place if a multiple-purpose project would make water available
at a lesser cost than previously proposed.  This shift would be accelerated
if a dry cycle occurred or if price supports for wheat were less favorable.
A shift to irrigation would bring about a growth in farm employment due
to the more intensive farming practices likely to occur.  The growth in
farm employment would be much greater except that it is considered likely
to be partially offset by farm mechanization.  Estimates by persons in
the county connected with agriculture place the increase in farm employ-
ment at from 50 percent to 100 percent on the acreage converted to irriga-
tion.  Considering total farm employment, this would be a growth in the
range of 17 percent to 33 percent during the study period if irrigation
comparable to the Bureau of Reclamation proposal occurs.  Such an increase
in irrigated acreage is not considered likely to create a significant

growth in the food processing industry of the area.  Although a sugar beet
refinery is a possibility in this regard, it would require a major con-
version to sugar beets by most farm operators in the basin and in adjacent
areas in order to make a minimum sized refinery practical.  A more likely
possibility is the increased production of livestock as part of the crop
from irrigated land.  This activity lends itself to gradual conversion
and is not inconsistent with the capabilities of the existing operations.
Such an operation might possibly make a local meat packing operation
feasible, but the availability of such facilities in the Pendleton area
will lessen this possibility considerably.

The forest products industry of the study area is considered likely to
experience a small amount of growth during the study period.  The forest
resource is presently being utilized at more than its maximum long range
capability.  Timber on the Federal lands is being harvested at the sus-
tained yield capacity, while timber on private lands is being harvested
at a rate greater than the sustained yield capacity.  In the near future
some drop in harvest and in employment will occur until the old cutover
lands are again ready for harvest.  In about ten years increased utili-
zation of currently noncommercial species will also increase the harvest
and employment opportunities in the forest.  Manufacturing operations
are not expected to change drastically.  Increased automation might be
offset by increasing the amount of manufacturing done on the raw materials.
A pulp plant is not considered likely because manufacturing operations
providing the main source of chips are part of the same company's opera-
tions which owns a pulp mill at Wallula, Washington, on the Columbia
River.  The Wallula pulp mill, which is within reasonable transportation
distance, is currently being expanded and will be able to continue to
handle the chips from the study area.  A further {and severe) limiting
factor to the location of a pulp mill in the study area is the difficulty
of obtaining an adequate water supply and disposing of industrial waste.
Although a fiberboard plant is a possibility, it would be in competition
with the pulp mill for most of its raw materials, and is not considered
likely in the near future.

The third potential for growth in the study area is the increase in
service activities due to such factors as increased tourist and
recreational activities in the surrounding area, growth of the college
at LaGrande, and an increasing ratio of service activities to primary or
basic industry.  These factors, of course, have been in operation in the
past and have helped to offset some of the declines in certain other
parts of the area's economy.

G.  Potential Land and Water Uses

The changes which can be anticipated in land uses are a matter of
intensity of use rather than change in classification of use.  Although
about the same relative amounts of forest land can be expected to be in

the various stages of production and harvest, the actual areas will be
rotated according to the production cycle.  It is expected, also, that
there will be a gradual trend toward production from younger forests, the
use of species not previously considered to be commercial, and the
increased use of insecticides and fertilizers on the forest crop.

The conversion of agricultural land to irrigated land would bring
about a major change in the intensity of land use, as well as in the
type of crops and cultivation practices, and will bring annual cropping
to many areas now summer fallowed in alternate years.  Increased irri-
gation would also create a major potential for degrading water quality
through irrigation water return flows.  The elimination of floods through
storage projects would also make possible a greater utilization of the
agricultural land, but would probably result in an overall improvement
of water quality by permitting increased low season flows.

The construction of water control projects in the area would make
several changes in water use likely.  These would include a large increase
in the use of water for irrigation, the availability of water for augment-
ing municipal and industrial water supplies, the creation of reservoirs
with recreation potentials, and the augmentation of low river flows during
critical periods.  The latter would make possible the assimilation of
larger amounts of treated municipal or industrial waste, would possibly
enhance the fishery resource, and might have recreational possibilities
not now developed.

H.  Conclusions

The study area's economy is mainly based on  forest products and non-
irrigated agriculture, with contributions to the economy from tourists
and recreation in the adjacent areas, and from the College of Education
at LaGrande.  The communities of  the  area are based on both lumber manu-
facturing activities and providing services  for the surrounding areas and
activities.  The population growth of the area has been very stable with
only a  12 percent increase in the last  50 years.

The growth of population over the next  50 years is expected to be similar
to the  historical growth.  Forest products industries are expected to
experience little overall growth  in employment.  Agricultural employment
might increase by 25 percent  (average of range of forecast) if a major
conversion to irrigation is made.  Some increases in service activities
are  likely.

The major potential change in land use  would be the  conversion of agri-
cultural  land to irrigation.  This would depend on the development of
water storage projects.  Such a development might have a variety of


influences of importance to water supply and water quality management
considerations.   These would include the following major possibilities:

     Increased irrigation creating more intensive land use and
     irrigation water return flows,

     Augmentation of municipal and industrial water supplies,

     Increased capacity of affected streams for assimilation
     of treated waste,

     Improvement of the fishery resource,

     Increased recreational use of the area's streams both on
     the reservoirs and downstream.


COPY                                           DHEW,  PHS,  REGION IX

TO:       W. W. Towne, Director            DATE:  November 29,  1961
            Columbia River Basin Project

FROM:     John H. Davidson, Chief
            Economic Studies, Columbia River Basin Project

SUBJECT:  Population Forecast for the Grande Ronde River Basin,  Union
          County, Oregon

At the request of Jim Britton, we have reviewed our reconnaissance
report, ''Economic Base Analysis and Forecast, Grande Ronde River Basin,
Union County" (dated April, 1961), in order to derive population statis-
tics from the conclusions presented in the report.  These conclusions
indicated that future growth would likely continue at the historical
rate which has been 12 percent increase in the last fifty years.  This
forecast of future growth included consideration of an irrigation project
on the Grande Ronde River.  In deriving population figures for  the area,
the future growth rate was divided into two segments, with the  community
of LaGrande estimated to grow at the rate of 0.3 percent a year and the
rest of the county estimated to grow at a rate of 0.2 percent a year.
The estimates were rounded to the nearest 50 persons.  The result of this
statistical maneuver is to produce a total growth estimate for  the county
over the next fifty years of slightly more than 13 percent.  An estimate
for the 50-year period 2010-2060 was prepared by applying a 12  percent
increase equally to each of the 2010 population figures.  The computed
forecast of population statistics is shown in the following tabulation.

                             1960        1980        2010        2060

County Total 	 18,180      19,050      20,550      23,000
LaGrande 	  9,014       9,550      10,450      11,700
Union  	  1,490       1,550       1,650       1,850
Elgin  	  1,315       1,350       1,450       1,600
Remainder of County 	  6,361       6,600       7,000       7,850
                                   /s/  John H. Davidson