Joint Statement On BLMʼs Finalization of the Public Lands Rule by Alaskaʼs Bering Sea Interior Tribal Commission, Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, and the National Congress of American Indians

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Tuesday, April 23, 2024 – Tribal organizations applaud the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM)
issuance of its final Public Lands Rule that brings the agency’s policies into compliance with the
Federal Land Policy and Management Act and affirms the federal government’s obligation to provide a
meaningful role for Tribal Nations in the management of public lands. The rule supports
co-stewardship of public lands and provides protections for sacred sites and places of cultural and
subsistence importance to Tribal Nations. The new rule clarifies that conservation is a use on equal
footing with other uses under the agency’s land management framework, acknowledging its
importance alongside uses like recreation and resource development. The rule also improves the
agency’s ability to respond to climate change, protect intact landscapes, and promote wildlife habitat
connectivity.

Tribes and Tribal organizations across the nation, including Alaska’s Bering Sea Interior Tribal
Commission, the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, and the National Congress of American
Indians, asked for this rule which incorporates Tribal co-stewardship and Traditional Knowledge in the
management of public lands and updates BLM’s management framework to address ongoing land
management challenges arising from the climate crisis, including rising temperatures, extreme storms,
drought, and biodiversity loss.

The BLM manages forests, mountains, and watersheds for present and future generations. These lands
encompass our Tribal homelands and continue to sustain our traditional ways of life. For our Tribal
communities, there is a deep cultural connection between the land and our ways of life. The new rule
mandates a collaborative approach that includes Tribal knowledge and expertise in land management
decisions and emphasizes the conservation and the rehabilitation of public lands. These lands are vital
for the protection of Tribal treaty and other rights as well as the future of our traditional ways of life.
Chairman of the Bering Sea Interior Tribal Commission, Eugene Paul, said, “the Tribal Commission
strongly supports this new rule that clarifies conservation as a use within the agency’s multiple use
framework. The new rule prioritizes conservation designations where special management is required
to protect important natural and cultural resources values important to Tribes. If the new rule had
been in place during BLM’s Bering Sea-Western Interior planning process, the plan’s outcome would
have rightly provided some baseline protections for the lands and watersheds that sustain our
traditional ways of life, as requested by our Tribes. With the new rule, our Traditional Knowledge will
be considered and our Tribes’ reasonable requests for protection of vital cultural and subsistence
resources will not be dismissed. This rule is a step in the right direction.”

The 22-page draft rule was published in the Federal Register in March 2023 with the Agency’s final rule
announcement on April 18, 2024.

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