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More Bad News for Gorge CasinoSalem-News.com Business Report
New, tighter guidelines for off-reservation casinos bolsters the case for on-reservation or Central Oregon alternative.
(PORTLAND, Ore.) - New, tighter guidelines are in store for off-reservation casino, and more scrutiny will be given to environmental compatibility and 'reasonable, regular' commuting distances between reservation residents and new casino locations; 113 miles separates town of Warm Springs from the proposed Cascade Locks location A January 3rd 2008 memo by Assistant Interior Secretary Carl Artman that contains new guidelines for the consideration off-reservation casinos raises even greater doubts about the viability of Oregon's first off-reservation casino proposed for the Columbia River Gorge.
"A one-way 113-mile commute on difficult and sometimes dangerous roads is not a reasonable commute for most Warm Springs tribal members. These new guidelines are another barrier to an off-reservation casino in the Gorge and reinforce the need for casino advocates to consider an on-reservation or nearby Central Oregon location," said Dan Lavey, a spokesman for a coalition of environmental, small business, pro-family and tribal interests who oppose the Gorge casino proposal.
The just released memo indicates the federal government will give greater scrutiny to off-reservation casino proposals the further they are located from tribal residents who could potentially work at and benefit from the new off-reservation casino locations. In addition, they indicate that off-reservation casinos are incompatible if located on or near environmentally sensitive lands such as National Parks or federally designated conservation areas. The Columbia River Gorge is a federally designated National Scenic Area.
"The Department of Interior recognizes its responsibility to protect national scenic treasures like the Columbia River Gorge. The noise, traffic and pollution from a massive 600,000 square foot casino resort with an estimated 3 million visitors a year would simply not be compatible with Oregonians vision for the future of the Gorge area," said Michael Lang, a coalition member and Conservation Director for Friends of the Columbia Gorge.
The memo contains the following rationale for the new guidelines:
On close commuting proximity to tribal residents:
"If the gaming facility is not within a commutable distance of the reservation, tribal members who are residents of the reservation will either: a) not be able to take advantage of the job opportunities if they desire to remain on the reservation; or b) be forced to move away from the reservation to take advantage of the job opportunity. In either case, the negative impacts on reservation life could be considerable."
On preventing negative impacts to adjacent lands:
"Incompatible uses might consist of adjacent or contiguous land zoned or used for: National Parks, National Monuments, Federally designated conservation areas, National Fish and Wildlife Refuges, day care centers, schools, churches, or residential developments."
A copy of the Department of Interior memo is available at nogorgecasino.com/ in the Issues section.
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