BLM will consult with tribes on public lands orders

Federal Bureau of Land Management officials are planning government-to-government tribal consultations as the first step in their review of five public lands orders signed by the outgoing Trump administration in January to allow mineral development on 28 million acres of land.

“Consultation with Alaska Native tribes will give us the best understanding of tribes’ interests and equities in these lands as we begin our work and will help inform our efforts to prioritize land selections by Alaska Native Vietnam veterans,” Nada Wolff Culver, BLM deputy director for policy and programs, said April 29. “We are committed to moving forward expeditiously with our review, and will issue formal consultation notices within two weeks.”

The five public lands orders signed on Jan. 11, 15 and 16 would have opened 28 million acres of BLM land in Alaska to mineral development, and for selection by the state and Alaska Native veterans of the Vietnam War.

On April 15, the Biden administration Interior Department announced a two-year delay in the effective date of the draft public lands orders. During these two years the BLM plans to correct defects associated with initial analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act, including inadequate review of potential impacts on subsistence hunting and fishing.

Under the Dingell Conservation, Management and Recreation Act of 2019, land allotments are to be available to Alaska Native Vietnam vets until 2025, Interior officials noted.