Setting up camp

The Oregon Military Department continues to put millions of dollars into upgrading buildings and infrastructure Camp Umatilla, its National Guard training facility outside Hermiston. Pictured here from 2018 is the original Umatilla Chemical Depot post headquarters, now part of Camp Umatilla.

HERMISTON — Camp Umatilla will greatly increase its training capacity in upcoming years as Congress continues to appropriate funding for improvements.

The National Guard training center on the former Umatilla Chemical Depot, just west of Hermiston, received approval for construction of a $15.7 million barracks building in the National Defense Authorization Act passed by Congress on Jan. 1. The project is in addition to an $11.3 million barrack building already under design.

Together, according to a news release, the buildings will increase the National Guard’s ability to house visiting soldiers by 448 beds. The Oregon Military Department expects to start construction this summer or fall, with completion in the summer of 2022.

“This is a great training space now and with these improvements Camp Umatilla will become a premiere military training facility for both our service members and the local community in the future,” Stan Hutchison, director of installations for the Oregon Military Department, said in the news release.

The Oregon Military Department was also notified it is set to receive another $6 million for more housing in the following fiscal year.

The 7,000-acre Camp Umatilla was originally part of the Umatilla Chemical Depot, but the U.S. Army turned over that portion of the depot to the Oregon Military Department in November 2017. At the time, department announced it was planning to spend $25 million on the facility over the next three years, including installation of water infrastructure, new roads, fencing and renovations of existing depot buildings, many of which date back to the depot’s construction in 1941.

According to the Oregon Military Department’s Dec. 7, 2020, news release, the new barracks projects adds to a list of about 20 active capital projects in design or construction at Camp Umatilla and the Navy’s bombing range nearby in Boardman that together total more than $68 million in improvements.

Some of those projects at the depot include a new schoolhouse and classrooms for the Guard’s Regional Training Institute, a new wastewater treatment facility and water distribution system, electrical work, fiber internet installation, fencing, demolition of more than 100 structures deemed unsafe or outdated, and refurbishment of other old buildings.

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