The Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs welcomed the news that the U. S. Department of the Interior has released the Final Environmental Impact Statement ("FEIS") for the Bridge of the Gods Resort and Casino - identifying the Cascade Locks Resort and Casino project as the Bureau of Indian Affairs' "Preferred Alternative."
"This is long-awaited good news for our impoverished tribe because it answers all of the false claims of our opponents with scientific facts and it sets the stage for the timely approval by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Governor Kulongoski. This casino project is a win for all Oregonians - it addresses the long term needs for our tribal economic self-sufficiency, while providing 400 construction jobs, 1700 full time jobs and $850 million dollars in education benefits for all Oregonians," said Stanley "Buck" Smith, Chair of the Warm Springs Tribal Council. "I am gratified the science of this Environmental Impact Statement recognizes the unique historic relationship between the Warm Springs people and the Columbia River Gorge, acknowledging that we will do all within our power to protect the sacred environmental quality of the river and lands that are within the heart of our traditional homeland."
The publishing of the FEIS marks a major milestone in the nearly 10-year path to project approval - which would result in a 25-acre parcel of land within the industrial park in Cascade Locks (Hood River County) taken into "trust" for the development of a 90,000 square foot gaming casino, 250-room hotel, a cultural/interpretive center and related entertainment facilities. The Warm Springs have committed to give the state 175 acres of tribal lands near Hood River in exchange for the industrial park lands - this "land swap" would perpetually preserve these scenic lands in their natural state. Additionally, the Warm Springs have committed to build a new interchange on I-84 serving the industrial park.
The complete FEIS is available on the local BIA webpage: www.gorgecasinoeis.com. Contact Scott Aikin, BIA (503.231.6883) or Jim Owens (503.225.0192 ext. 204).
After a 45 day waiting period, the Department of the Interior will develop findings of fact and a recommendation on whether the Warm Springs project meets the "two part determination" test of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) Section 20. Namely, would gaming on these lands (1) be in the best interest of the tribe and its members and (2) not be detrimental to the surrounding community. This recommendation would be sent to Governor Kulongoski for his positive concurrence, which would lead to the BIA's Record of Decision taking the industrial park land into trust.
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