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Big E Forced to Tackle Environmental Concerns for Proposed Casino

BIG E MAP 2

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — The Big E hopes these 40 acres will be home to Hard Rock’s newest casino, but all kinds of different creatures have called this land home for years.

According to the National Heritage Endangered Species Program, building on designated areas requires some extra work.

It’s really designed to protect not only the endangered species that we have in Massachusetts, but also their habitat

“We’re particularly concerned about what the impacts to that river would be aquatic resources, fish, birds, eagles, osprey, others that use that Watershed- the Westfield Watershed is critical to us,” Director of Public Policy and Government Relations for the Massachusetts Audubon Society Jack Clarke said.

Parts of the proposed casino site have been designed by the state as core habitat, critical natural landscape, and home to species of conservation concern. Some Big E signs installed by the Big E previously noted that the area is home to blue herons, turtles, and bald eagles. We stopped by Friday and the signs were gone. The Big E says they are storing them for the winter.

Ponds border much of the property where the Big E wants to build a casino. Audubon officials say aquatic life is protected under state law, too.

The Westfield River also flows directly behind the Big E. President and CEO Eugene Cassidy says that the Big E’s engineering firm is working to ensure they comply with all laws, saying in a statement

“We have always been committed, and will be with this project, to creating a safe, friendly experience for our visitors and that includes a safe, protected natural environment.”

Hard Rock casino officials were traveling today and unable to comment.