Open Letter to Michael Black, Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Washington, D.C.:
I am writing to you regarding the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians’ application for Fee to Trust for the property known as Camp 4 and their submittal to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to request a Tribal Land Consolidation and Acquisition Area, (TCA). The BIA approved this submittal in June 2013, without considering consequences to all who live in the Santa Ynez Valley.
I am completely bewildered; searching for understanding. I have been a resident and property and business owner in the Santa Ynez Valley for the last 19 years. I now find that my property and home is included within and surrounded by an arbitrarily designated TCA.
It appears the small group that call themselves the Band of Chumash Indians, in their attempt to process fee land into trust with the federal government, has designated approximately 11,500 acres of land as TCA.
It seems their motive is to circumvent more complete scrutiny as required by federal law and to avoid the environmental assessment, which is also required by the National Environmental Policy Act.
This TCA has created a cloud on all the property within its boundary. No notice, to my knowledge, was given to any interested parties regarding ecology, wildlife, and habitat. Disjointed and unfettered development devoid of any county, state, or federal standards or regulations is unthinkable. The effect of the loss of county and state taxes must also be considered.
We, the affected people, do not believe that this process (or lack of process) exerted by the BIA afforded any scrutiny to the impacts occurring now (or in the future). I believe this process was in complete error and could lead to irreparable harm to our current S.Y.V. Land Use Plan developed over years of comprehensive planning and community input.
It makes no sense to not consider the detriment to our valley and all its residents, to benefit only a few. I implore you — set aside this BIA approval of the TCA.