Yuba County casino remains in limbo: Letter alleges construction work, Board of Supervisors finds complaint to be false | TheUnion.com

Yuba County casino remains in limbo: Letter alleges construction work, Board of Supervisors finds complaint to be false

Jake Abbott
Special to The Union

A letter recently delivered to Yuba County and protesting work being done at the Enterprise Rancheria casino site had some people scratching their heads … because there's not really any work going on there.

The Colusa Indian Community Council submitted the formal letter to the Yuba County Board of Supervisors requesting it issue a stop-work order on Enterprise Rancheria's construction of a casino due to the tribe's failure to fulfill certain obligations and permitting requirements.

The only problem, the project being carried out by the Estom Yumeka Maidu Tribe of the Enterprise Rancheria has been in legal limbo for years, and no real construction work on Fire Mountain Casino has been done.

Yuba County Supervisor Randy Fletcher said the board looked into the complaint lodged in November and found that Enterprise Rancheria was not in violation of any of the points made by the Colusa Indian Community Council chairman.

"They were concerned that someone was out there working on the land, so we had a supervisor go out the day after we received the letter to see," Fletcher said. "We saw a farmer was working the ground behind where the casino was going, so someone might've been told that they were working the ground but in reality, they weren't. At this point we haven't found them to be in violation of anything."

In the letter, Colusa Indian Community Council Chairman Wayne Mitchum Jr. raised concerns that construction had already begun without Enterprise Rancheria following through on promises made to the county and federal government.

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Mitchum said Enterprise Rancheria has failed to take 10 actions required of them, including specific mitigation measures, acquiring various permits and coming into compliance with building codes, fire safety standards and water quality standards.

Mitchum could not be reached for comment this past week. His office acknowledged the inquiry but said the chairman did not have a comment at this time.

An Enterprise Rancheria spokesperson, Charles Altekruse, said the tribe is still waiting on certain legal decisions to be made before any further actions are taken on the casino.

If built, the casino would be located on 40 acres near the amphitheater off of Forty Mile Road in Yuba County.

Though the land is considered off-reservation, the Department of the Interior accepted the land into federal trust so that Enterprise Rancheria could build a casino, but that decision is currently the subject of litigation in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Gov. Jerry Brown sided with the Department of the Interior's decision, and that too is currently under review by the California Supreme Court, Mitchum said.

Jake Abbott is a reporter for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat. He can be reached at jabbott@appealdemocrat.com.