> Officials from the Cascade Locks and the Port of Cascade Locks reported last week that they had received phone calls from staff at the Portland Regional Office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs stating that the BIA plans to soon release the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed Warm Springs Resort and Gaming Facility in Cascade Locks.
"This is the good news that our community has been waiting for since June of 2007," said Mayor Roger Freeborn. "Now, public debate about the proposed resort can proceed and decisions can be made that can lead to renewed economic vitality in our city."
Port of Cascade Locks Commission President Tim Lee expressed the port's enthusiastic continued support for the proposed resort, which will be built on vacant land owned by the port, zoned for industrial development, and never included among those lands governed by the National Scenic Area Act.
"The port has long supported proposals that would create jobs and develop "green-infrastructure" in our community and the Warm Springs are committed to doing just that," said Lee.
"We could hold out for a heavy industrial user to locate in our community, but that wouldn't be prudent or desirable from an environmental perspective," continued Lee.
The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs have historical ties to the land in Cascade Locks, having lived on the lands since ancient times, with tribal members still living in the community and fishing along the banks of the Columbia at Cascade Locks.
The draft EIS is expected to be published in the Federal Register within the next several weeks, followed by a number of public hearings on the environmental impact statement and the preferred alternative recommended in the DEIS.
Among those recommendations that will be challenged is the recommended closure of some existing freeway exists and entrances into and out of Cascade Locks.
In particular, city, port, and county officials have already taken exception to the proposed closure of the East Cascade Locks Interchange to comply with standard federal interstate interchange spacing guidelines.
Local officials will argue against the proposed closure and have been preparing comments detailing the safety and community benefits associated with the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration granting a variance to keep the interchange open and truck traffic from being diverted onto residential streets.