Portland General Electric Company built Pelton and Round Butte dams on the Deschutes River in the 1960s. The dams were designed with fish ladders for adult fish and collection facilities for juveniles, but those facilities never worked well. In 1968 the Oregon Fish Commission voted to abandon them and build a new hatchery to mitigate the impacts of the dams.

Since 2004, PGE and the Tribes have invested well over $100 million on passage improvements. The first successful downstream passage occurred in 2010.In 2004, when it was time to relicense the dams, Portland General Electric and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs committed to work together to restore fish passage as part of a new license. Two years earlier, the Tribes bought a partial ownership of the complex, which sits partly on the reservation, making it the only hydroelectric facility in the nation jointly owned by a utility and a tribe.

The long-term plan is to reintroduce Chinook, sockeye, and steelhead into about 225 miles of historical habitat in the Metolius River, Whychus Creek and Lower Crooked River, all upstream of Pelton Dam. Related activities are ongoing in the Deschutes and tributaries, including streamflow enhancements and habitat improvements.