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Cayuga Nation protest sign (copy)

A Cayuga Nation land claim protest sign in Union Springs. 

State lawmakers are pushing back on the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs' denial of Cayuga County's request for a 120-day extension to respond to the Cayuga Indian Nation’s application to place more of its land into trust.

In April, the county and affected municipalities received notice from the U.S. Department of the Interior's BIA that it has resumed consideration of a 2005 application by the Cayuga Indian Nation of New York for the U.S. to acquire and hold in trust six of the Cayuga Nation's parcels. Putting the roughly 130 acres of land into federal trust would exempt it from local taxes and use regulations, a status the nation has long argued it is entitled to have as a sovereign nation.

Cayuga County, with the help of an attorney, responded to the application by requesting a 120-day extension on behalf of the county and Union Springs and Springport — the affected municipalities. The notice initially gave only 30 days for affected governmental entities to provide the BIA with an array of specific data detailing the impact of removing the land from tax rolls.

A May 15 response from BIA's Acting Regional Director Bruce W. Maytubby's office acknowledged the county's request but only granted a 30-day extension.

On Tuesday, state Sen. Pamela Helming, R-Canandaigua, and Assemblyman Gary Finch, R-Springport, sent their own request to Maytubby's office asking for a 120-day comment period extension.

Helming and Finch wrote that the 30-day comment period "is inadequate and will not provide for a precise and complete analysis of the Cayuga’s application and the financial impact it will have on our local municipalities."

They further expressed that in light of the fact that the Nation's application has been pending for 12 years, the comment period "is unfair given the extensive nature of the application and the devastating impact it will have on the constituents and municipalities that we represent."

In addition to requesting a 120-day extension, the officials also urged a BIA representative "to visit our counties and to hold a public meeting to hear directly from our constituents who would be impacted by the approval of the Cayuga Indian Nation’s application."

The BIA did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Staff writer Megan Ehrhart can be reached at (315) 282-2244 or megan.ehrhart@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter @MeganEhrhart.

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Towns Reporter