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Casino in Ashland?

The city of Ashland plans to “express concerns” to U.S. government officials over the possibility of a nearby casino if a Siskiyou County tribe is successful in restoring federal recognition.

Ruffey Rancheria, a tribal group descended from Indian villages in central Siskiyou County, has been advocating for the restoration of federal recognition for decades after Congress terminated its status in 1958.

Congressman Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, California, introduced House Resolution 3535 — the “Ruffey Rancheria Restoration Act of 2017” — in July last year to restore federal recognition of the Rancheria and set forth steps for restoring more than 440 acres of land to its members.

If passed, it could allow for a casino on reservation land, according to the bill.

“The potential ripple effect of this legislation is allowing another tribe the potential to have a casino in the Rogue Valley,” acting City Administrator Adam Hanks said Monday.

Siskiyou County is just across the border in California. The location of the tribe’s land hasn’t been formalized, but staff said it would “play a significant role” in determining whether the restored lands would qualify for a gaming casino in Southern Oregon.

Hanks explained that there’s a 25-mile radius around the land that could be applied as a designated site for a casino, and Ashland could potentially be in it.

There hasn’t been any progress on the bill this year.

“I don’t know if it has legs at the federal level,” Hanks said Monday, adding that the council could draft a letter recognizing the significance of restoring the tribe’s recognition, but also highlighting the concerns of having a casino in or near the city.

City Councilor Rich Rosenthal said at the meeting he’s “inclined to send a letter expressing concerns.”

“We don’t know where it is going to go,” he said.

Other councilors echoed Rosenthal’s sentiment. They unanimously directed staff to draft the letter.

The city hasn’t been in contact with the tribal group, Hanks said.

Reach reporter Tran Nguyen at 541-776-4485 or tnguyen@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on twitter @nguyenntrann.