The Redding Rancheria has received federal approval to move forward with a contentious plan to expand and relocate the tribe’s Win-River Resort and Casino, California, to prime freeway frontage property along the Sacramento River. The U.S. Department of the Interior’s decision on July 1 to transfer the Rancheria-owned land along Interstate 5 into federal trust status for gaming purposes marks a pivotal moment for the tribe.

Extensive federal review process:

According to the Redding Rancheria, the federal review process involved nearly two decades of expert analysis, examining the economic, environmental, and social impacts of the proposed casino relocation.

As KRCR-TV reports, the DOI’s comprehensive analysis resulted in a final report that spans thousands of pages, addressing impacts on local businesses, traffic, wildlife habitats, the Sacramento River, and historical and cultural resources, among other considerations.

This extensive final report was the foundation for the DOI’s decision.

“We extend special gratitude to the DOI, its leadership and staff for their hard work, thorough analysis, and ultimate approval of our casino relocation project,” the Redding Rancheria stated in a press release, as Record Searchlight reports. “We also thank key congressional representatives, the State of California – particularly the Governor’s Office and Assembly Member Ramos, Shasta County, the City of Shasta Lake, and the many tribal nations that have supported us throughout this process. Lastly, we express our gratitude to our tribal members, employees, and community supporters.”

The Rancheria indicated that the timeline for breaking ground on the project depends on several factors. They expressed confidence that the decision would be upheld despite anticipated challenges from opposition groups.

“These types of 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 Rancheria stated.

Long-Term relocation plans:

First announced in 2016, the plan to relocate the Win-River Casino to Strawberry Fields in Churn Creek Bottom, near Redding’s southern border, requires the land to be placed in federal trust for the tribe to operate a casino. This status exempts the land from local taxes and development regulations.

Despite the approval, the Rancheria anticipates legal challenges from groups opposed to the project, such as Speak Up! Shasta, which argues that the new casino will increase crime and traffic and disrupt agricultural land.

Supporters, however, argue that the new complex will bring jobs and visitors, boosting the local economy. They also point out that other commercial developments, including a new Costco, have already opened nearby.

Speak Up! Shasta spokesman Robb Korinke stated, “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.”

The Rancheria plans to construct a 69,541-square-foot casino, a nine-story, 250-room hotel, restaurants, a conference center, an event center, a convention center, and a 132,000-square-foot regional retail center on part of the 232 acres of undeveloped land known as Strawberry Fields. This land is located just south of the I-5-South Road interchange, near the recently opened Costco store.

Currently, the Win-River Casino includes an 84-room hotel and a 60,000-square-foot casino located on Highway 273 between Clear Creek and Canyon roads. The Rancheria aims to move the 232 acres into federal trust status, exempting it from local taxes and development regulations that apply to its current agricultural zoning.