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Tribe Cries Foul Against Casino Opponents

The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs are crying foul, saying that opponents of their proposed Gorge casino are employing "deception and gridlock" to achieve their goal.

"We're trying to play fair and be transparent with Oregonians. We welcome a conversation on the merits of our project but Friends of the Columbia Gorge seems to be more interested in setting up litigation," said Len Bergstein, tribal spokesperson.

The tribe is presently in the process of reviewing the financial returns of building a casino in the 640,000-acre reservation land located in Central Oregon.

In 2005, the tribe asked for a federal review of plans to construct a two-story casino within the urban center of Cascade Locks. Should the proposal be turned down, the tribe stated their plan to build a gambling facility on 40 acres of land within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area east of Hood River.

Friends, an entity who is against the casino, issued results of a poll that reveals that 68 percent of Oregonians are opoosed to having a casino in the Gorge. Michael Lang, Friends' conservation director said that the group participated in the joint poll with several other conservation groups on diverse environmental issues.

Bergstein tagged the poll "disingenuous," citing one of the questions: "If you knew that the following statement was true, would you be much more likely, somewhat more likely, somewhat less likely or much less likely to favor allowing the Warm Springs Indian Tribe to build a 603,000 square foot casino off reservation lands near the Columbia River Gorge community of Cascade Locks?

Below that question is the following statement, "The proposed Columbia River Gorge casino would draw an estimated three million visitors and increase traffic and air pollution - putting the Gorge's bald eagle nests and salmon runs in danger."

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