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WIGA News Clips March 4-6, 2006 LOCAL Wilcox farm earns ‘salmon-safe’ label The Olympian 3/6/06 Mountains- to-slots: the Point and the casino (Opinion) The Seattle Times 3/5/06 As Snoqualmie Tribe celebrate casino approval, neighbors voice worries The Seattle Times 3/4/06 NATIONAL Lottery players fill Oregon's coffers with money The Oregonian 3/5/06 LOCAL Wilcox farm earns ‘salmon-safe’ label Egg producer earns distinction by combining agriculture, conservation By John Dodge The Olympian ROY — A fixture in the Nisqually Valley since 1909, Wilcox Family Farms is growing greener by the day. The 1,800-acre farm, bordered on the west and south by the Nisqually River and sliced into sections by Horn and Harts Lake creeks, just received a “Salmon-Safe” certification from Stewardship Partners, a Seattle-based nonprofit group that works with landowners on a voluntary basis to protect and restore salmon-bearing streams. Chinook, coho, chum, pink and steelhead salmon are all known to spawn or overwinter on or near the farm, sharing the environment with hundreds of thousands of chickens. Wilcox family farms, home to about 1.25 million laying hens and younger hens, is the largest of the 25 farms in the Northwest to achieve the salmon-friendly label, according to Larry Nussbaum of Stewardship Partners. “Wilcox Farms is playing a leadership role in demonstrating how successful agriculture and salmon conservation are mutually supportive,” Nussbaum said. The farm earned its eco-label by: • Reducing chemical use in its transition to natural and organic food products. “We’re not using commercial fertilizers or pesticides on the soil,” farm chairman Jim Wilcox noted. • Replanting natives trees and vegetation along Horn Creek and the Nisqually River to provide habitat and shade to cool the streams. • Keeping livestock away from rivers and streams with fencing. The farm no longer has a dairy herd on site, but is looking at putting an organic dairy herd on the farm this summer, Andy Wilcox said. • Finding off-site uses for its chicken manure to ensure the farm isn’t overloaded with animal waste. The chicken manure is shipped to an organic farmer in Eastern Washington, which, in turn, supplies Wilcox Farms with organic feed for its chickens, Barrie Wilcox said. For decades, the farm was all about producing eggs and milk, with little thought to the environment or salmon habitat, noted Jim Wilcox. “When you are a commodity-based business, you don’t think a lot about the environment,” Wilcox said of the old business model. “You’re busy just trying to make the payroll and pay the bills.” But during the past 20 years, that has steadily changed. Increased environmental awareness grew out of the 1980s work prompted by the state Legislature to create a Nisqually River Management Plan to protect the natural, cultural and economic resources of the Nisqually watershed — from the peak of Mount Rainier to the Nisqually Delta. Once private property owners such as the Wilcox family were convinced environmental groups, the Nisqually tribe and planners were not out to condemn their property and build a river corridor trail from the mountain to Puget Sound, new approaches to farming with the environment in mind took shape on the farm, Wilcox said. “A big part of the change was our friendship with the tribe,” Wilcox said. Consumer attitudes have played a role in the farm’s movement to more natural and organic products, Wilcox said. More and more, consumers want assurances that the egg and dairy products produced at the farm are not at the expense of the environment. “If we want to keep farming here, we can’t just be about commodities,” he said. With that in mind, the farm managers have embarked on a three-year program to convert about 400,000 of their laying hens to a new living environment that will qualify the eggs they lay as organic food. The hens still will have laying houses, but they will be free to roam around and will have access to the outdoors, Andy Wilcox explained. From improved salmon habitat to changes in the way eggs are produced, Wilcox Family Farms is serving as a model for other businesses to work on a sustainable future for the Nisqually watershed, said Justin Hall, executive director of the nonprofit Nisqually River Foundation. Mountains- to-slots: the Point and the casino By James Vesely Seattle Times staff columnist From Snoqualmie Point, where a winery once served as a delightful pause in the weekend rush, the expanse of the valley below is remarkable for what is unseen. Almost unseen is the growth that marched along Interstate 90 through the booming 1990s; from the homes of Snoqualmie Ridge to the expanding suburban highlands of Issaquah, the Point still allows a view of soft terrain between theridgelines leading to the Cascades. This summer, work begins transforming that rustic ledge into a view site unrivaled along the Mountains to Sound Greenway — a legacy and a trust too often taken for granted by regional Seattle. Snoqualmie Point will offer a view and a small turnaround respite against the rush of growth. Directly below the Point, also this summer, work begins on Casino Snoqualmie, the latest pin in the dartboard of tribal casinos surrounding Seattle. How one views one of the greatest valleys of the Cascade slopes is also a point of view about the casinos and development, because the two go together like neon and leatherette booths. Last week's celebration of the Snoqualmie Tribe is both an ending and a beginning to the tribe's modern history. It ends years of search for federal recognition and the beginning of the casino years, with an unknown legacy of the new era still to come. A few years ago, tribal members were angry and anguished when a shopping center was proposed adjacent to Snoqualmie Ridge development, a place with deep tribal memories. That was stopped by a deal that kept the land green, in exchange for faster development along the Ridge. Simultaneously Friday, as tribal members celebrated, the state Legislature was deciding on funding for the Greenway Trust, the quietly powerful organization that conserves and oversees the greenest corridor of any urban region. The Greenway Trust was hoping for $4 million in state money for a variety of projects, including trailheads, access to Snoqualmie River wilderness and near-urban forests such as Squawk and Tiger mountains. State Rep. Fred Jarrett, R-Mercer Island, said he saw about $1 million being approved in the transportation budget and possibly more money for selected sites, but too soon to know for sure. If anything, the arrival of the casino says give the Greenway the money. Exquisite symmetry places Snoqualmie Point directly above the casino, originally estimated at offering about 700 parking slots. The contours of the land continue to benefit the valley because it's possible the low ground north of Interstate 90 will hide much of the casino, and there had been a promise not to intrude too heavily onto the Greenway with signs. But the purpose of a casino is to bring in cars and buses, and traffic will surely glom onto I-90 and the exit ramps with mercantile intent. It's hard to believe Casino Snoqualmie will not market itself vigorously for the world of slots and shots. A cigar room is in the plan revealed Friday, an interesting twist on Seattle's abhorrence of smoking indoors. Within a mile or so of each other as the eagle flies, the Point and the casino are the duality of growth and preservation that conflicts the region. Growth usually wins. If the casino acreage were destined for a big-box retail complex, the howls would be heard from here to North Bend. But tribal sovereignty silences those outbursts and there is an acceptance of the nuances of tribal entitlements and hard-fought battles that gives this casino a lot of political slack. But while all money is green, all asphalt is gray, and the impact on a narrow stream of woods and dales along I-90 called the Mountains to Sound Greenway may be profound. I-90, the turbine of growth, will now have pit stops that include the casino, development at Snoqualmie Ridge, the outlet mall at North Bend, and the resort-residence ski and golf center near the top of the pass to lure more growth. The Greenway's original vision — let's call it a vision quest — has not been squandered to growth, but growth keeps banging on the door, wanting to come in. James F. Vesely's column appears Sunday on editorial pages of The Times. His e-mail address is: email@example.com As Snoqualmie Tribe celebrate casino approval, neighbors voice worries By Sonia Krishnan Seattle Times Eastside bureau Snoqualmie Tribe members gathered near their headquarters in Carnation on Friday to celebrate a long-awaited victory — getting the nod this week from federal officials to move forward with plans to build a casino off Interstate 90 near North Bend. Meanwhile, residents in the neighborhood adjacent to the site voiced disappointment. "This is going to change the whole flavor of Snoqualmie," said Betty McJunkin, who has lived on Southeast 92nd Street for nearly 20 years. Construction is expected to start on Casino Snoqualmie in June and finish by fall 2007. The $90 million, 150,000-square-foot gaming center will include high-end restaurants, a cigar bar and areas for live entertainment. The casino — which will be open 24 hours a day three times a week, and 20 hours a day four times a week — will feature 10 to 15 poker tables, 675 slot machines and games such as roulette, craps, blackjack and baccarat. In February 2001, tribal officials submitted an application to the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs to build a casino on a 56-acre parcel off Southeast North Bend Way. The land was granted federal reservation status Thursday. The designation means the parcel falls under tribal authority and paves the way for Snoqualmie to enter the multibillion-dollar gaming industry. "This is just the beginning," said Ray Mullen, tribal council member. "The work really starts now." The tribe is working with developer Jerry Moyes, owner of the Arizona-based companies MGU and MGU Development. Moyes, who also owns the National Hockey League Phoenix Coyotes, has invested nearly $10 million in the project, which includes the $4 million land purchase, $2 million for sewer lines and $3 million for the casino's conceptual designs, said Matt Mattson, tribal administrator. Snoqualmie will be the first casino venture for MGU, Mattson said. Under the agreement, the tribe will get 70 percent of net revenue and MGU 30 percent, he said. The tribe felt the "most comfortable" with MGU, because the company was receptive to running the casino as a joint effort, he added. "[The tribe] will make decisions," he said. "We're very much a part of this process." Other companies that approached the tribe about building a casino seemed to rely on a formula without seeking input from the tribe, he said. Tribal members spoke with excitement Friday about their future and reflected on the significance of the project. More than 800 jobs are expected to be created by the casino, and first dibs will go to the Snoqualmie Tribe, said Michael Barozzi, the casino's general manager. "The people are going to prosper," said Maryanne Hinzman, vice chairwoman of the tribe. "The tribe now has a place on the map," said Nathan Barker, sub-chief. "We now have a place to call our own." Neighbors say they will have to learn to live with a bustling casino next door. No appeals were filed during the BIA's 30-day mandatory public-comment period, which ended Thursday. And no organized opposition emerged during the five years the project was on the table. Some say the reason they weren't able to mobilize was because of money. "It costs a lot to take something like that on," said Sharon Bray, who has lived on Southeast 93rd Street for 17 years. "You kind of feel like the little guy, like there was nothing we could do. "I don't begrudge the Indians at all," she said. "And we can't do much about it now. You can't stop progress." Sonia Krishnan: 206-515-5546 or firstname.lastname@example.org NATIONAL Lottery players fill Oregon's coffers with money Gambling - The state's sales for the budget cycle are predicted to hit $1 billion, but at what price, some ask Sunday, March 05, 2006 JOSEPH B. FRAZIER The Oregonian It started with a simple scratch-off game, an almost mom-and-pop approach to the take-a- chance, get-rich-quick, working guy's dollar-shot-at-a-dream world of legalized gambling. A few people have gotten rich. And the state has gotten rich and is getting richer. In the new quarterly revenue forecast, it's predicted that Oregon's lottery revenue for the current budget cycle should hit $1 billion for the first time, some $69 million more than predicted. Of the $69 million, $25 million is spoken for. Various interests, especially education, are circling around the balance. The new figure represents roughly $1 in every $13 the state has to spend. It makes the $60 million that the lottery has brought in since voters established it in 1984 look like chump change. Lottery revenue took off after video poker was introduced in 1992 and again when casino-style slot machines or "line games" were added last year. Lottery profits fund projects for education, state parks, salmon recovery, economic development and athletic scholarships at state schools. One percent help pays for gambling addiction. The lottery has its opponents. "I think, from my standpoint, it has become the financial means of most political resort," said David Leslie, executive director of the Ecumenical Council of Oregon. "The consequence of that is that we have effectively tabled any discussion in recent years on tax reform or other sources of revenue to fund basic state services." Leslie said that as lottery revenue increases, "funding for schools, health care and public safety continues to drop." He called the lottery a regressive tax -- those least able to afford to lose pay a disproportionate share -- albeit a voluntary one. "Not everyone in Oregon gambles," Leslie said. "But to succeed, a lottery needs a class of people who are problem gamblers and pathological gamblers." The $1 billion milestone, he said, "is not something in our mind to be proud of." "The reality in Oregon is that we are addicted," Leslie said. Addicted or not, with $1 billion in play, the state "certainly depends" heavily on the income these days, Oregon Lottery spokesman Chuck Bauman said. The majority of lottery profits, 64 percent, go to education. The second-largest expenditure is lottery retailers, 24.8 percent of net revenue, which means the money put into the machines minus the prizes paid out. More is slated for maintenance, construction and land acquisition for state parks. Bauman said 20 percent pays for economic development, which can include business expansion projects and underwriting employee training to lure businesses to the state. Recently, there have been moves to lower the retailers' percentage and send the rest to education, which has raised a fury among owners of the 2,077 establishments where the state's 10,848 terminals are placed. Video poker and line games bring in about 80 percent of the lottery's revenue. The new casino-style games, Bauman said, are proving especially popular at least partly because of their simplicity. "You don't have to know what a full house is or anything like that," he said. The lottery will add a game in April called Lucky Lines, based on a tic-tac-toe grid. Bauman said Oregon's collection of lottery games is among the nation's largest, partly to appeal to a broad range of players. "Ideally, we would love to have a lot of people play just a little," he said.
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