ELLENSBURG, Wash. — Milton Johnston of Ellensburg is the newly elected chair of the Columbia Basin Development League, a group that supports completion of the Columbia Basin Project.

Johnston, 65, is a retired assistant regional manager for the state Department of Natural Resources. In that capacity, Johnston managed a million acres of farm land owned by the state agency.

He previously served as vice chairman of the regional organization.

The league was formed in 1964 to pursue development of the second half of the Columbia Basin Project. Initially authorized to serve more than 1 million acres, the irrigation project currently encompasses 673,000 acres. Additional development was interrupted in the 1990s by a moratorium on new withdrawals from the Columbia River. The last completed section of the project brought water to the Mattawa area in the 1980s.

Major features of the project are Grand Coulee Dam and Banks Lake.