Redding Rancheria can relocate casino to Strawberry Fields off I-5

The Redding Rancheria said it has gotten the federal approval needed to move forward with a controversial plan to expand and relocate the tribe’s Win-River Resort and Casino to prime freeway frontage property along the Sacramento River.The U.S. Department of the Interior on July 1 issued its decision to transfer the Rancheria-owned Sacramento River-front land just south of Redding on Interstate 5 into federal trust status for gaming purposes, the Rancheria said in a statement on Tuesday.

The tribe first announced in 2016 that it planned to relocate its Win-River Casino to the area known as Strawberry Fields in Churn Creek Bottom near Redding’s southern border. In order for the tribe to operate a casino, its land must be moved into trust of the federal government for the benefit of the tribe. Such a move exempts the land from both local taxes and local development rules.

“This monumental decision concludes the federal agency review process that included nearly two decades of comprehensive expert analysis into the environmental, economic, and social impacts of our proposed casino relocation project,” the Rancheria said in the statement.

More: Why Redding Rancheria’s plan to expand, relocate Win-River Casino has caused a divide

As for when they might break ground on a new casino, the Rancheria said Tuesday that they expect “specialinterest groups” that have opposed the project to challenge the government’s decision in federal court.

Opponents including Speak Up! Shasta have said opening an expanded casino on the Rancheria-owned Strawberry Fields land will bring more crime and traffic to the community and group members also fear the large-scale development would pave over what is now largely agricultural land.

Supporters have said the expanded complex would mean new jobs and more visitors — and their dollars — in Shasta County. Also, supporters said, other commercial development has opened not far away, including a new Costco and other retailers.

Speak Up! Shasta spokesman Robb Korinke said in a statement issued Tuesday: “Thousands of Shasta County residents oppose this harmful project and the Redding Rancheria wants local taxpayers to foot the bill through their sham ‘deal’ with the Board of Supervisors. Let me be clear: We are going nowhere — and neither is that casino.”

A telephoto view of Strawberry Fields from the backyard of a residence at the end of Riverside Drive in south Redding. The Redding Rancheria wants to build a new, bigger casino on the property.

A telephoto view of Strawberry Fields from the backyard of a residence at the end of Riverside Drive in south Redding. The Redding Rancheria wants to build a new, bigger casino on the property.

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In March, after the casino relocation project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement was published in the Federal Register for public review, Korinke was critical of a 30-year financial agreement reached last year between the Shasta County Board of Supervisors and the Redding Rancheria.

In February, a group called the California Land Stewardship Council sued the Shasta County Board of Supervisors over its approval of the agreement to help fund law enforcement, fire and emergency services for the proposed casino project.

The agreement that supervisors approved last summer is illegal, the lawsuit alleges.

An illustration of the Redding Rancheria project

An illustration of the Redding Rancheria project

According to the Rancheria’s statement this week, “challenges are, unfortunately, common in Indian Country, and we are confident that the DOI’s decision making process for our casino relocation project is thorough, sound, and in compliance with federal law. The Tribe has waited for more than two decades for the restoration of these aboriginal homelands to trust and will monitor developments over the coming weeks to take any necessary action to preserve our interests in the decision.”

The Rancheria intends to build a 69,541-square-foot casino, nine-story, 250-room hotel, restaurants, a conference center, an event center, convention center and a 132,000-square-foot regional retail center on a portion of 232 acres of undeveloped land west of Interstate 5 known as Strawberry Fields. The property is just south the I-5-South Road interchange near a new Costco store that opened in late 2022.

Win-River’s current hotel has 84 rooms, while its casino covers about 60,000 square feet on Highway 273 between Clear Creek and Canyon roads.

The Rancheria aimed to move its 232 acres into trust of the federal government for the benefit of the tribe. The move exempts the undeveloped land that’s zoned for agricultural use from both the local taxes and local development regulations that now apply.

Record Searchlight reporter David Benda contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared on Redding Record Searchlight: Redding Rancheria gets federal approval to relocate casino

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