Land allotment plan for Vietnam vets takes next steps

Federal authorities are seeking public comment through Sept. 21 in support of an environmental assessment that will consider the effects of opening certain lands for selection to eligible Alaska Native Vietnam-era veterans.

Bureau of Land Management officials have not provided any details on when the agency would start accepting applications for the allotments. The lands to be analyzed are associated with 28 million acres identified in five public land orders signed in January by the Trump administration, prior to the inauguration of President Joe Biden.

According to Nada Culver, deputy director of policy and programs for the federal Bureau of Land Management, it is now a priority for the BLM to move forward expeditiously to ensure that Alaska Native Vietnam-era veterans are able to select the land allotments they are owed, with an expansive selection area.

“Public input on the review of these lands for selection by eligible Alaska Native individuals is vital in the development of our analysis,” Culver said.

The Alaska Native Vietnam-Era Veterans Land Allotment Program was established through the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act of 2019.

The program directs the BLM to allow eligible individuals to select an allotment of up to 160 acres from vacant, unappropriated and unreserved federal lands in Alaska.

The public land orders under review revoked land withdrawals made pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, Section 17(d)(1) and when final would open 28 million acres of federal land for development as well as selection by Alaska Native Vietnam-era vets.

The BLM held government-to-government consultation on these issues May 26-27 and June 14-15, the BLM said.

Details on the lands subject to environmental assessment were to be published in the Federal Register on Friday, July 23 online at cdv.tiny.us/lands.

Comments may be submitted on the BLM’s National NEPA Register at cdv.tiny.us/nepa or by mail to Bureau of Land Management, Alaska Native Veteran Allotment/EA, 222 W. 7th Ave., Stop 13, Anchorage, Alaska 99513.

Maps and other planning documents associated with the project are available on the BLM’s National NEPA Register at cdv.tiny.us/nepa and can be reviewed at the BLM Alaska Public Information Center. However, appointments at the center must be made in advance.