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Accord triples size of Sycuan reservation

The Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, which owns both the U.S. Grant hotel and Singing Hills Golf Course, signed an accord with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs this month that nearly tripled the size of its reservation.

Under an agreement, about 1,400 acres became part of the reservation, of which 85 percent remains permanent open space. The open space is managed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state Department of Fish and Game.

The agreement involves property that has already been acquired by the tribe over about 15 years.

A 425-acre portion of the property, which includes the Singing Hills Golf Course and its 100-room hotel and restaurant, was owned by the tribe but wasn’t part of the Sycuan reservation.

The resort, which the tribe bought for $40.7 million in 2001, has 54 holes of championship golf and offers professional golf instruction through its PGA and LPGA certified Golf Academy. There are 11 tennis courts.

The application made to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for inclusion in the reservation, doesn’t permit gaming, said Adam Day, Sycuan assistant manager.

Even though the application is a non-gaming one, the Bureau still took six years to approve it. In the meantime, Day said the tribe, which also co-developed the 173-room Marina Gateway Hotel in National City a few years ago, spent about $20 million on improvements to and around Singing Hills Golf Course.

While the estimated 210 acres of the property that the tribe plans to develop hasn’t been set aside for gaming, there are plans for 50 houses for the tribe that would be built in three areas around the reservation.

Half the units are proposed to be built north of Dehesa Road, 14 homes are to be built off Sloan Canyon Road, and 11 more along a planned secondary access road that will run to the property from Sloan Canyon Road.

Other proposals in the works include a 120-space RV park, an equestrian center along the northern border of the property, and an area for powwow celebrations.

As for the land destined to remain in open space, Day said it includes a 1,000-foot wide wildlife corridor, and is part of the tribe’s habitat preservation plan that has been modeled after San Diego County’s Multiple Species Conservation Plan (MSCP).

In conjunction with its announcement about the conversion of the Dehesa Valley land to reservation property, Sycuan announced that it has transferred 600 of its acres to the Kumeyaay-Diegueño Land Conservancy for permanent cultural and open space protection.

A dedication to celebrate the signing of the accord was held at 3611 Dehesa Road in El Cajon, just east of the Sycuan Resort. Sycuan tribal leaders, officials from the U.S. Department of Interior and representatives from the governor’s office attended.

The tribe’s existing casino operation has 2,000 video and reel slots, 10 tables for smoke-free poker, craps, blackjack and bingo, along with live entertainment venues.

Work is ongoing to improve the main access road to the property. That job is scheduled to be completed in 2015, well before the other development.

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Singing Hills

3007 Dehesa Rd.
El Cajon, CA 92019