Madera County back to square one on project to build off-highway park

MADERA COUNTY (KFSN) -- In a unanimous vote, the Madera County Board of Supervisors decided to cancel the contracts for the Blackhawk Project. The proposed project that involved an off-highway vehicle park is now pushed back after supervisors said the federal highway administration failed to do their part and consult with the tribes in the area.

"They should've done this a year ago, they tried to fast track it through," said Brian Topping, Chowchilla Tribal Organization.

The board approved the purchase process for the project last year, but Supervisor Brett Frazier said it's been scary to see how much the project keeps changing.

"It seems like the rules change as we go through this. There's new things that come up that we have to find out. Somebody at the federal level has a different opinion of what needs to be done-- there's constantly new issues that come up with this project."

The county said the project would be funded mainly by $2.3-million they would receive in federal and state grants.

"The money we're using is park monies-- we're not using general fund money. We're not using money that could be put in other places. This money has to be put into park," said David Rogers, County Supervisor District 2.

But the problem is the county can't get the money until the federal government consults the tribes.

Several tribe representatives spoke out against the project at the meeting-- one of those being Brian Topping. As the vice chair of the Chowchilla Tribal Organization, he said the land is sacred to Native Americans.

The county will have to go through the CEQA and NEPA process, but Topping said, this time, they know what's to come.

"They got an exempt the first round from CEQA, on the first round, which as a state recognized tribe we have 45 days to appeal-- this time, we'll be aware of that and will do it."

Supervisors said with the project still faces several hurdles, and air, and noise, mitigation is still required. Along with getting in touch with the neighbors.
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