“No Cayuga Land into Trust” website launch today

http://www.nocayugalandintotrust.net Seneca and Cayuga Counties have launched an informational website as a public service so the counties’ citizens can provide comment on the Cayuga Indian Nation’s land into trust application. In April 2005, the Cayuga Indian Nation filed an application with the Bureau of Indian Affairs that seeks to place approximately 130 acres of land in Seneca and Cayuga Counties into trust with the United States Department of Interior. If granted, these acres would become “sovereign land.” The Cayuga Indian Nation sovereign land would not be subject to property tax, thereby shifting the property tax burden to other county residents. The elected representatives of Cayuga and Seneca Counties would no longer have jurisdiction over the future development of these acres. There is also concern that the Cayuga Indian Nation could be using this application as a stepping stone to acquire more land to be placed into trust. Dr. David Dresser of the Seneca County Board of Supervisors and Raymond Lockwood, Cayuga County Legislator, led a committee from both counties charged with developing the “No Cayuga Land into Trust” website. This is a collaborative effort by the two counties to provide an opportunity for their respective communities to learn about and to comment on the land into trust issues. The website enables the public to receive notifications of important developments and meetings by email, and to send comments by email on the Cayuga Indian Nation’s application process. Dr. Dresser and Mr. Lockwood said: “Our goal with this website is to provide the public with factual and historical information about the land into trust application process so they can review the issues and comment accordingly. We want our citizens to have a single place to access all of the pertinent information relevant to the application and to have a place where they can voice their opposition to the application.” The “No Cayuga Land into Trust” website is organized into five major categories: 1. A ‘Home’ page with an overview of the land into trust issue; 2. An ‘Express Your Opposition’ page enabling public comment to be made by email; 3. A ‘Relevant Information’ page containing, among other things, links to information about the environmental review process involved in a land into trust application, an overview of the sales (tobacco, motor fuel and other products) tax legislation; a history of the legal actions undertaken by the Cayuga Indian Nation and defense strategies employed by Seneca and Cayuga Counties, and links to various authoritative reports about the impacts of placing Indian lands into trust; 4. A section containing links to pertinent federal, state and local websites, including the U. S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and U. S. and local elected representatives; and 5. A ‘FAQ’ page that presents the land into trust key issues in a question and answer format. “Our website is easy to navigate and enables viewers to find the information they need to evaluate this issue and respond if appropriate,” said Dr. Dresser and Mr. Lockwood. “We are confident this website and the information it contains will be well-received by the residents in our counties. It is vital they understand the impacts on our counties, should the Cayuga Indian Nation’s application be approved. We would lose the property tax revenue on the parcels of land in the application and have no control over future development. We welcome public comment.” For those without Internet access, Dr. Dresser and Mr. Lockwood encourage residents to visit their local libraries to view the website on library computers.

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