This post has been updated below with additional clarification and breaking news.
Here at BlueOregon, we haven't yet had a conversation about the proposed casino in Cascade Locks. Here's where we stand now:
Oregonian, 5/20: "Kulongoski, a Democrat, agreed to let the Warm Springs [tribe] build on an industrial site in Cascade Locks in exchange for the tribe's promise to close its casino in Central Oregon and forgo developing a more sensitive site on tribal land in Hood River."
Yesterday, an unlikely coalition of organizations announced their opposition to the plan:
The Oregon Family Council, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Oregon Restaurant Association, Trout Unlimited, Oregon Center for Environmental Health, Friends of Mt. Hood, McKenzie Guardians, Stronger Families for Oregon, OSPIRG, Oregon Toxics Alliance, Parents Education Association and WashPIRG.
So, let's talk about it.
Given that a "no casino" option isn't available under federal law... where would you rather see the casino: on industrial land inside the Gorge Scenic Area, or on environmentally sensitive tribal land in Hood River?
Update: There has been quite a bit of discussion as to whether or not the Hood River option is, in fact, an option. We received this note from Michael Lange, conservation director of the Friends of Columbia Gorge:
Development of the site east of Hood River has never been an option. Numerous federal laws, include the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act itself, prohibits development of the site. The parcel of land in question is inaccessible by road, is on steep slopes and can't be developed. The only real plan is the one supported by Gov. Kulongoski for a 500,000 square-foot off-reservation casino in the small town of Cascade Locks in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The proposal breaks Oregon's existing policy of one casino per tribe, located on the tribe's reservation. The off-reservation casino proposal is easily the biggest threat to the Columbia Gorge in the last 20 years. Federal review of this proposal will take years. In the coming months, we should ask why Kulongoski broke his campaign promise to uphold Oregon's policy barring off-reservation casinos, especially when our poll last week shows that 63% of Oregonians are opposed to a Gorge casino and 71% think that it will lead to more off-reservation casinos across the state.
Update: It appears that the gorge casino plan has been temporarily blocked by the Interior Department. From KGW:
The Interior Department said granting approval now would be premature because the tribes have not yet purchased the property where the casino would be built. "Only after the tribes have acquired the Cascade Locks land into trust, will the department consider the terms and conditions of a timely submitted compact," the department said in a letter to Kulongoski. ... Meantime, a spokesperson for Gov. Kulongoski's office told KGW as soon as the process is finished, the state will resubmit the same identical compact to the federal government and expects that it will gain approval.
Keep on discussing...