Pixel Tracker

Sunday, March 24 , 2019, 2:37 pm | A Few Clouds 63º


Chumash Win Federal Approval to Take Camp 4 Land Into Federal Trust

Tribe says the 1,390-acre property formerly owned by the late Fess Parker will be used for tribal housing

The Chumash tribe has received approval from the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs to take its 1,390-acre Camp 4 property in the Santa Ynez Valley into federal trust, making it part of its reservation. Click to view larger
The Chumash tribe has received approval from the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs to take its 1,390-acre Camp 4 property in the Santa Ynez Valley into federal trust, making it part of its reservation. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs on Monday affirmed a request from the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indian to place its 1,390-acre Camp 4 property into federal trust.

The approval of the tribe's fee-to-trust application on the agriculture property along Highway 246  clears the way for the tribe to build housing for its members, according to Chumash officials. ​

"This is a historical moment for the tribe," Tribal Chairman Kenneth Kahn said. "It's important that we are able to have homes within our tribal jurisdiction. It's important for the survival and future of the tribe. We are able to focus on our efforts to have tribal housing, on tribal land for tribal people in order to support our culture."

Now that the land has been placed into federal trust for the tribe, it is removed from the tax rolls and the Chumash will regulate land-use rather than Santa Barbara County.

"The tribe has a lot of work to do, but it makes it easier now that the fee-to-trust is affirmed," Kahn said. "We have a lot of work to do with planning and development...It could be five years or 10 years, it depends on how fast we can make that come together."

Kahn said there is a possibility of litigation stemming from the decision by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Tribal leaders pursued multiple routes for the fee-to-trust process.

The tribe began the steps of placing the land into federal trust by taking the administrative route in 2010, shortly after it purchased the land from the Fess Parker estate.

The tribe filed a federal trust application with the BIA in July 2013, and by December 2014 a Notice of Decision was received from the U.S. federal government agency, accepting the tribe’s Camp 4 into federal trust. 

Additionally, the tribe took the legislative process and federal legislation was introduced in October 2013. 

H.R. 3313 — a bill initiated by Rep. Doug LaMalfa, a Republican representing California’s 1st District — was introduced to take the land into federal trust on behalf of the tribe.

The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Mission Indians Land Transfer Act of 2015, also known as H.R. 1157, was reintroduced to Congress in February 2015.

The bipartisan bill was introduced by LaMalfa, R-Richvale.

The House Committee on Natural Resources voted 29-1 over the summer — with a no vote from Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara — to approve moving H.R. 1157 out of that committee and to the House of Representatives floor.

Ultimately, Congress did not take action on H.R. 1157.​

"We feel (the legislative route) was necessary for the tribe to have a voice in the community, in respect with the county," Kahn said. "Our position all along has been to have a consistent dialogue with the county. We went as far as putting legislative pressure on the county to have dialogue."

Kahn added that he believes "it's important to work together to plan the future of the entire community on a regular basis."

The bill generated opposition from the Santa Ynez Valley Coalition and the Santa Ynez Valley of Concerned Citizens, who are concerned with the land-use development plans, impact to the community and the county's tax rolls.

The county’s Chumash ad hoc subcommittee was created in 2015 and began discussion with the tribe for the purpose discussing a potential agreement.

The Board of Supervisors appointed Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann and First District Supervisor Das Williams to serve on the subcommittee, replacing outgoing Supervisor Doreen Farr and stepping in for Fourth District Supervisor Peter Adam in January.

“I am committed to working with the tribe to reach an agreement that provides tribal housing and enhances the tribal community while preserving the character of the Santa Ynez Valley,” Hartmann said in a statement. “I am hopeful that through continued transparent negotiations and thoughtful engagement, the county and the tribe will reach a mutually satisfactory agreement.” 

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today!

Our professional journalists work tirelessly to report on local news so you can be more informed and engaged in your community. This quality, local reporting is free for you to read and share, but it's not free to produce.

You count on us to deliver timely, relevant local news, 24/7. Can we count on you to invest in our newsroom and help secure its future?

We provide special member benefits to show how much we appreciate your support.

I would like give...
Great! You're joining as a Red-Tailed Hawk!
  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.