Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Indian Nation, Washington


The nation and four other groups say a four-year environmental study of a proposed resort contains glaring holes and fails to meet state requirements. The study was prepared by county planners and financed by Trendwest Resorts Inc. of Renton at a cost of $3.5 million. At 6,225 acres, the proposed Mountain Star Resort between Ronald and Roslyn in Kittitas County would become the state's largest resort. Over 30 years Trendwest proposes to build more than 4,100 vacation homes, two golf courses, a horse park, 550 hotel rooms and a variety of businesses in the Cle Elum River drainage. Critics say the project would alter the area's rural character and eventually drive out many residents unable to keep up with escalating property values. The tribe and the Department of Fish and Wildlife fear the resort will damage salmon runs by drawing water away from spring chinook salmon spawning areas and by sending too many tourists into fragile riparian zones. Developers have bought 9,962 acre feet of water rights from area farms and from property where the city of Ellensburg plans to build a large baseball park. Virtually every drop of water in the Yakima River basin has been claimed and disputed for decades by farmers, municipalities and the nation.