In an April 12 agreement, Portland General Electric and the tribes became partners in owning and relicensing a major hydroelectric project and restoring salmon and steelhead to Oregon's upper Deschutes Basin. The utility also donated $800,000 to buy a mile-and-a-half reach of a Deschutes River tributary near Sisters, Ore., so that once steelhead can swim around the Pelton Round Butte hydroelectric project, they will have prime spawning habitat waiting. The series of dams near Madras, Ore., was built in the 1950s and 1960s with fish ladders and a gondola to allow salmon and steelhead to return to their spawning beds upstream, but the system never worked well and the fish have been completely blocked from the upper basin since 1966. Subject to approval by state and federal regulatory agencies, the tribes will buy a one-third interest in Pelton Round Butte on Dec. 31, 2001, with an option in 20 years to increase their share to 49.99 percent. There is an additional option to take a controlling interest of 50.01 percent by 2037. PGE would continue to operate the dams and will stop paying $10 million a year to use tribal lands when the tribes buy their one-third share. The tribes will thereafter earn returns from marketing their share of the power.