Federal Register

This notice advises the public that the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), as lead agency, with the Tule River Indian Tribe (Tribe), City of Porterville (City), Tulare County (County), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) serving as cooperating agencies, intends to file a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) with the EPA in connection with the Tribe's application for acquisition in trust by the United States of approximately 40 acres for gaming and other purposes to be located in the City of Porterville, Tulare County, California. This notice also announces that the DEIS is now available for public review and that a public hearing will be held to receive comments on the DEIS.

Comments on the DEIS must arrive no later than November 5, 2018. The date and time of the public hearing will be announced at least 15 days in advance through a notice to be published in a local newspaper (the Porterville Recorder) and online at tulerivereis.com.

Public review of the DEIS is part of the administrative process for the evaluation of the Tribe's application to the BIA for the placement of approximately 40 acres of fee land in trust in Tulare County, California. The Tribe proposes to construct a casino resort on the trust property. A Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an EIS was published in the Porterville Recorder and Federal Register on December 30, 2016 (81 FR 96477). The BIA held a public scoping meeting for the project on January 23, 2017, at the Veterans Memorial Building, in Porterville, California.

Background: The Tribe's proposed project consists of the following components: (1) The Department's transfer of the approximately 40-acre fee property into trust status; (2) issuance of a determination by the Secretary of the Interior pursuant to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act 25 U.S.C. 2701 et seq.; and (3) the Tribe's proposed development of the trust parcel and the off-site improvement areas. The proposed casino-hotel resort would include a hotel, convention center, multipurpose event space, several restaurant facilities, parking facilities and water reclamation infrastructure. The new facility would replace the Tribe's existing casino, and the existing casino buildings would be converted to tribal government or service uses. The following alternatives are considered in the DEIS: (1) Proposed Project; (2) Proposed Project with On-Site Water and Wastewater Systems; (3) Reduced Intensity Hotel and Casino; (4) Non-Gaming Hotel and Conference Center; (5) Expansion of Existing Eagle Mountain Casino; and (6) No Action Alternative. Environmental issues addressed in the DEIS include geology and soils, water resources, air quality, biological resources, cultural and paleontological resources, socioeconomic conditions (including environmental justice), transportation and circulation, land use, public services, noise, hazardous materials, aesthetics, cumulative effects, and indirect and growth inducing effects.