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February 16, 2008

NORTH FORK, CA - An environmental impact report was published Friday by the U.S. Department of Interior regarding plans of the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians to build a resort casino in Madera County. The tribe had filed an application with the Department to place land into federal trust, a fundamental step for sovereignty from state jurisdiction. If a land transfer is granted, the tribe can proceed with their plans.

The casino will be a $350 million multi-function entertainment destination resort featuring Las-Vegas-style gaming machines, a 200-room hotel, a spa, three restaurants, six bars, gift shops, and 4,500 parking spaces.

The report is an extensive study of foreseen opportunities and problems the casino will create, such as new jobs, more residents, pollution, and problem gamblers. The casino would create 2,441 construction jobs, 1,461 full-time casino jobs, and an additional 2,319 Madera-area jobs. The study estimates 836 new residents will move into the area. It will also create 705 "problem gamblers" and air pollution from the construction activity and increased vehicle traffic.

The next step in the federal decision process will be a public hearing by the Bureau of Indian Affairs for local residents to speak and make comments. The scheduled date is March 12th at 6 p.m. in Hatfield Hall at the Madera District Fairgrounds. Written comments can be submitted to the Bureau of Indian Affairs until March 30.

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