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Betting on the Land 

Graton Rancheria puts profits to common good

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No, the money you lost at the Graton Casino did not go down the drain. Some of it went to help pass an open space and water-quality ballot measure this November.

Earlier this month, the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria (FIGR) pledged $200,000 to support the campaign to pass the Sonoma County Regional Parks and Water Quality measure. The ballot measure was approved by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors for the Nov. 8 ballot. The measure will provide locally controlled funding to improve access to parks, natural areas and trails; provide safe places for children to play in the outdoors; open existing parkland to the public; protect clean drinking water sources; and preserve parks and open space for future generations.

If approved, the measure will levy a half-cent sales tax in unincorporated Sonoma County and will generate an estimated $9.5 million to improve parks and open space.

The measure must be supported by two-thirds of those who vote in November to pass.

Tribal chairman Greg Sarris says one of the missions of the FIGR is the preservation, protection, access and expansion of open spaces, parks and sacred sites within its territory. The FIGR's support dates back to 2005 when the tribe donated $500,000 to Sonoma County Regional Parks to help purchase 1,900 acres that included Tolay Lake Regional Park, a sacred site for the tribe.

The $200,000 donation will be used to educate Sonoma County residents about the benefits of greater access, availability and environmental protections to local parks, trails and beaches. —Stett Holbrook

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