The Portland Oregonian editorial board called today for U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to approve the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation request to take land into trust for a casino in the Columbia River Gorge.
The editorial notes that: “Time grows short for federal action on the Warm Springs tribes’ proposed casino in Cascade Locks. On Jan. 10, Oregon’s new governor, John Kitzhaber, will take office and close, at least for four years, the only door open to the Warm Springs.
. . . Interior Secretary Ken Salazar should act quickly for the Warm Springs. On Dec. 23, his department took action on another, less pressing question, approving the Cowlitz Tribe’s application to take 152 acres in Clark County into trust, clearing the way for a casino near La Center, about 15 miles north of Portland.”
Secretary Salazar must decide two issues: whether approving the casino is in the best interests of the tribes and not detrimental to the surrounding area; and whether the site should be made eligible for tribal gambling.
As the editorial notes a “federal analysis, published last August by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, strongly supports both findings.”
While the Oregonian “generally is not enthusiastic about new casinos” . . . the Warm Springs project is about creating an economic enterprise to help some of the most impoverished people in this state. It’s about bringing hope, jobs and investment opportunities to a place that has never had enough of them. . . . [Gov.] Kulongoski is ready and willing to concur if Interior Secretary Salazar rules that the Warm Springs project could go forward at Cascade Locks. [Incoming Gov.] Kitzhaber, meanwhile, has made it clear that he has no intention of approving a casino in the gorge.”