Construction on the half-built, $30 million, 20,000 capacity White River Amphitheater being built near Auburn, WA by the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe on their reservation, might resume shortly after construction was suspended four years ago. On September 6, the tribe was granted a crucial permit from the Army Corps of Engineers that allows work to continue. The permit allows the tribe to fill one-third of an acre of wetlands. Clear Channel Entertainment will operate the facility.
In 1998, an opposition group to the project won a federal court order requiring federal agencies to prepare an environmental impact statement, causing work on the facility to be stopped. The environmental analysis was finalized this past March.
"It's been a long ordeal for the tribe, and the tribe is gratified that the Corps has issued the permit," said Muckleshoot attorney Rob Otsea, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "From the tribe's standpoint, it substantiates and vindicates its decision to go forward with this project and (the contention) that this project will be a benefit to the community. The special conditions (in the wetlands permit) are pretty simple and straightforward. There wasn't anything new" in terms of what the tribe expected."
Corps district engineer Col. Ralph Graves said, the amphitheater plan is "the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative available" to the tribe and "not contrary to the public interest," the paper reports.
However, the Corps is requiring the tribe to create or improve 2.6 acres of wetlands on and near the site and restore 3.4 acres of wetlands that were cleared during earlier construction.
In May 1995 the tribe signed an agreement with Bill Graham Enterprises to build and operate the White River Amphitheater. BGE was later purchased by SFX, which was bought by Clear Channel Entertainment.