In California, the proposal from the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe to build a $29 million casino on an off-reservation site near the small city of Ridgecrest reportedly took another step last week after the federally-recognized tribe began collecting public input.

According to a report from The Daily Independent newspaper, Thursday saw David Zweig, President for local environmental consulting firm Analytical Environmental Services, hold a special meeting in the city on behalf of the tribe in order to gather feedback pertaining to its draft Tribal Environmental Impact Report.

The newspaper reported that the 40-minute gathering saw approximately 45 locals turn up to voice their concerns although Zweig refused to answer questions as he stated that he was only present in order to accept comments. He also purportedly declared that citizens still have until the end of the month in order to offer their input, which may be included in the final version of the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe’s Tribal Environmental Impact Report before the document is presented to officials from the city and Kern County.

The Daily Independent reported that Zweig additionally described the Tribal Environmental Impact Report the tribe is preparing as ‘sort of a hybrid document’ that is ‘very similar’ to documents required under the California Environmental Quality Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

“The Tribal Environmental Impact Report is really a unique document,” Zweig reportedly told those assembled at the meeting. “It’s a unique document that is being prepared according to the guidelines in the tribal-state compact. The tribe has a draft compact that it is negotiating with the Governor’s office that has not been released yet. The environmental provisions in that compact are fairly standard.”

The newspaper reported that the casino proposal from the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe has drawn criticism because the envisioned 20,000 sq ft facility would be located some 130 miles away from the tribe’s reservation in Death Valley National Park. Locals are purportedly moreover worried about the economic impacts of the planned enterprise and whether its debut would lead to a rise in the prevalence of problem gambling.

“No one wins except the casino in a one-company town such as ours,” Ridgecrest resident Raymond Kelso reportedly told The Daily Independent at the meeting.

The newspaper reported that many residents have also expressed concerns that the envisioned casino on a site near the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake could significantly increase the demand for clean water in the arid region or be used as a venue for the growing of marijuana.

“That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard,” casino developer Nigel White reportedly told The Daily Independent after the meeting.

His comments were reportedly echoed by George Gholson, Tribal Chairman for the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe, before the leader speculated that critics had formulated such rumors in order to undermine the project.