Less than a two-hour drive from Manhattan, bobcats, black bears, and coyotes wander the forests, river valleys, and peaks of the Catskill Mountains, a region that has served as a refuge for generations of hikers, birders, hunters, anglers, campers, and even, once upon a time, Rip Van Winkle. Now, the
St. Regis Mohawk tribe plans to build an off-reservation, Las Vegas-style casino in the bucolic town of Monticello, New York. The project threatens the region's watersheds, which provide water for half of the state's residents. The $600 million casino would draw more than six million visitors a year --
40 percent more than Grand Canyon National Park -- along with traffic congestion and diminished air quality. The Bureau of Indian Affairs has claimed there would be no significant impact to the environment, in order to avoid submitting an Environmental Impact Statement as required by the National Environmental Policy Act. That's not legal, according to NRDC attorneys, who are working to compel the bureau and the Department of the Interior to comply fully with the law.