August 29, 2017
Otter Tail County commissioners last week voted to request a full environmental impact statement (EIS) for a proposed casino on Star Lake in response to concerns of local residents.
The White Earth Band of Chippewa is planning to build a Shooting Star Casino and Resort on about 270 acres near Dent, in a rural area of the county. The project includes a gambling facility, hotel, restaurants, conference center and RV park. It will be the White Earth Band’s third casino.
Federal law gives the band the right to build a casino on trust land set aside during treaty settlements long ago, but the county has the power to approve other aspects of the project. Only about 15 acres of the proposed 270 acres are Indian Trust land.
Local residents are worried what this casino would do to the ecosystem surrounding the lake, a very environmentally sensitive area. They are worried run-off from the casino will be detrimental to the lakes and wetlands. Too much human pressure on a fragile ecosystem, especially long-term, could be impossible to reverse.
The casino proposal involves the federal, state and county governments as well as a sovereign tribal nation. An application for a dredging and filling permit on the trust lands is pending with the Army Corps of Engineers. After the county sets the scope of the EIS and gets responses from the tribe, the board will have a maximum of 280 days to make a decision on its portion of the project.