Department of Interior Revokes Agreement and Halts Redding Rancheria's Strawberry Fields Casino Expansion
REDDING, Calif. - (November 17, 2020) – In a critical announcement today, the Department of the Interior has officially invalidated the Rancheria Restored Lands “Memorandum of Understanding” (MOU), which was enacted in 2016 between the Department of the Interior and the Redding Rancheria. The Redding Rancheria cannot proceed as previously proposed with their Casino relocation and expansion at Strawberry Fields in Shasta County.
“Were it not for the entire community coming together to oppose this project this would never have happened. When we started collecting petitions almost four years ago, and we were told this was hopeless -- it was a done deal. But you can never underestimate the impact we can all have when we come together for a cause. Neighborhood residents, elected leaders, conservationists, businesses and more all worked together to defeat this proposal. Hopefully, we can continue this work together to continue to make Shasta County a great place to live and raise a family.” – Randy Carter, member of Speak Up Shasta.
The Department of the Interior's decision is a clear victory for the more than 6,000 community residents who joined local businesses as well as the City of Redding and Shasta County in opposing this project. For more than three years, the community has rallied together and petitioned against this proposal. In 2019, both the City of Redding and Shasta County Board of Supervisors unanimously opposed the proposal, citing permanent impacts to the local landscape, a host of insurmountable traffic and other infrastructure challenges, the lack of tax revenues as well as impacts to local businesses and communities.
"The Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) believes that significant off-reservation impacts associated with any proposed development must be mitigated to the satisfaction of the affected local governments. Given the opposition of the County of Shasta, RCRC has been on record in opposition to the Redding Rancheria’s fee-to-trust application since January of this year. We commend the Department of the Interior for hearing the concerns of Shasta County and the need to reassess this project and the process going forward." – Paul A. Smith, Senior Vice President Governmental Affairs, RCRC.
The community's wishes have now been honored under this decisive action by the Department of the Interior. The Redding Rancheria will now need to follow the path for expanded gaming known as the “Two Part Determination” process, which would require sign off from California officials as well as the federal government. The Redding Rancheria will not be able continue ignoring local opposition to the project as the local community called upon the federal government to involve them in any future proposal for this land. Throughout the course of the project’s comment period and local government meetings, hundreds of community members came in person to oppose the casino. Speak Up Shasta submitted more than 1,000 letters to city and county officials, and more than 6,000 local residents signed a petition opposing the casino. Local businesses, conservationists and other groups joined in the opposition.
"The November 16, 2020 decision by the Department of Interior that the ‘Strawberry Fields parcel is not eligible for gaming’ is appropriate for this site and protective of the environment along the Sacramento River. This project would have had devastating impacts on our treasured natural resources in Shasta County, and would ultimately have caused untold damage to our community at large. We hope that this will begin a new chapter in the conversation our community has been having for years regarding this land, and we can find a purpose for it that will benefit our community and our environment equally.” – John Livingston, Chair of the Executive Committee, Shasta Group, Mother Lode Chapter, Sierra Club
The invalidation of the "MOU" is a devastating blow for the Redding Rancheria, but a tremendous victory for Shasta County community residents and local businesses. The Redding Rancheria will no longer be able to use the "Restored Lands" exemption previously stated in the "MOU". The community has spoken and any future plans for the Redding Rancheria's new Casino expansion or any other development on the land will need to follow a proper process.
THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO WORKED TIRELESSLY TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN.