After failing in a bid to bring a casino to the small Colorado border town of Dinosaur in 2011, the Ute Indian Tribe Of The Uintah And Ouray Reservation has reportedly returned with a second proposal that would involve it purchasing some 2,453 acres of land contiguous to its reservation in the neighboring state of Utah.
According to a report from The Daily Sentinel newspaper, the federally-recognized tribe has filed an application with the Bureau Of Land Management asking for permission to directly purchase the land between Dinosaur and the Utah-Colorado border. If successful, it then intends to ask the Department Of The Interior to place the parcel in trust so that it could subsequently open a casino.
Ron Wopsock, a member of the Ute Indian Tribe Of The Uintah And Ouray Reservation Tribal Council, told the newspaper that his people have been involved in the oil and gas industry for more than 75 years and now want to diversify in order to create more jobs and sources of revenue. Gambling is not legal in Utah while the tribe would reportedly need the approval of Colorado governor John Hickenlooper in order to open its casino on non-trust land.
“Basically, it’s in the talking stages [but] nothing solid,” Wopsock told The Daily Sentinel. “There would have to be support. I guess that’s the difficult part of it.”
Richard Blakley, the mayor for Dinosaur, told the newspaper that the proposal has the backing of the local town council as the new project “would mean 300 to 400 jobs”. He reportedly stated that the community of 350 people is heavily dependant economically on oil and gas development, which is an industry that has recently experienced something of a slow-down.
“If you’re not moving forward you’re dying,” Blakely told The Daily Sentinel. “We’re seeing our businesses slowly going away.”
Blakley reportedly declared that the whole process could take up to two years and that he had asked the nearby town of Rangely for its backing as the entire area attempts to diversify its economy away from energy-based industries. While interested, Peter Brixius, Town Manager for the neighboring community, told the newspaper that leaders first want answers to several questions including whether the scheme is supported by Moffat County before deciding whether to offer their support.
For his part, Moffat County Commissioner Frank Moe reportedly explained that his group had held a brief introductory meeting with tribal representatives but had yet to fully address the proposal as two of its three representatives are new to their jobs following November’s elections.
“It’s like I tell people, when I see the ground break then I know it’s here,” said Blakley. “Until then, you know, there’s a lot of red tape to it, it looks like.”
Regarding the tribe’s chances of acquiring the Colorado land connected to its giant Uintah And Ouray Indian Reservation, David Boyd from the Bureau Of Land Management reportedly emphasized that his agency was still in the initial stages of reviewing the proposal.
“If we move forward to formally consider the proposal, the public will have a chance to weigh in,” Boyd told the newspaper.