WARM SPRINGS, Ore. - Despite efforts to find new funding and revenue options, such as Mt. Jefferson heli-skiing and other eco-tourism, the Warm Springs Tribal Council voted Tuesday to proceed as announced in early July and close the Kah-nee-ta Resort and Spa next Wednesday.
KWSO reported, "The closure announcement follows nearly two years of efforts to identify ways to make Kah-Nee-Ta profitable following its separation from the Warm Springs Gaming Enterprise," which moved the Indian Head Casino to a new facility on U.S. Highway 26..
"An unmet goal was to find capital investment for much-needed infrastructure and other improvements," the radio station said.
Here is the full news release issued Tuesday by The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs:
The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Tribal Council took formal action Tuesday to close the Kah-nee-ta Resort & Spa, putting into motion the recommendation of the Board of Directors.
The closure includes the Lodge, the Village, and the golf course. Immediate steps will be taken by the Tribes Executive Management team and the Board to implement a closure plan.
The Kah-nee-ta Board of Directors has presented a number of eco-tourism options to the Tribal Council for consideration over several sessions. These ideas included a trial season of heli-skiing on Mt. Jefferson, multi-day lodge-based fishing trips along the Deschutes River, trophy game hunting, and the development of a culture and wellness center.
Each of these options required action by the Tribal Council to move forward, as permitting and capital investments were needed.
The Board also included permitting areas on Mt. Jefferson for limited commercial film and photography production. The permits would have generated revenue for the Tribe and resort, as well as jobs and other opportunities for Tribal members.
Other tribal nations have departments that manage commercial production, including the Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Office who permit commercial film and photography production for Navajo Nation lands. This branded permit concept was previously presented in 2017 to generate revenue for the Scholarship Fund and infrastructure development but did not receive enough support to move forward.
After lengthy discussions and no action on presented options, Councilwoman Carina Miller made the motion to move forward with closure of the facility on September 5th.
“It is irresponsible to continue pouring money into an enterprise that has demonstrated over many years that it cannot generate enough revenue to cover expenses,” she stated.
Both Councilwoman Val Switzler and Bridgett McConville shared similar concerns. The final vote was three yes and five abstentions with the Chairman not voting.
In the coming week, Kah-nee-ta staff will finalize inventory of assets and turn them over to the Tribes. The Secretary Treasurer/CEO and Chief Operations Officer are responsible for integrating the closure costs into the tribal budget and managing the assets moving forward.
Residents of the Hamlets have been informed that their housing is secured through December 31st. It is estimated that the closure costs will be up to $720,000 annually.
“The shuttering costs are significant and will put a burden on an already challenging budget year,” stated Austin Greene, Tribal Council Chairman. Vice Councilman Charles Calica added that, “While we have now set a date for closure, it does not prevent the Tribal Council from pursuing options for financing and the facility. This will be necessary to reduce the costs to the Tribal government.”
This weekend, a number of activities will be held at Kah-nee-ta including a horse parade and salmon bake at the Lodge on Saturday. Community members are invited to participate in this all-volunteer gathering by cooking, dancing, or riding in the parade. For more information, contact Marie Kay Williams, General Manager at 541-553-1112 extension 3469 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Oregon, is based in Central Oregon with a membership of over 5,300 Tribal Members from the Warm Springs, Wasco, and Paiute tribes.