BLM Releases Tribal Co-Stewardship Policy and Reaffirms Commitment to Working with Tribes to Manage Public Lands

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WASHINGTON, DC – Building on the recent landmark agreement between the Bureau of Land Management and five tribal nations on the co-management of Bears Ears National Monument, and building on the Secretariat’s Joint Order on Fulfillment of Fiduciary Responsibility toward Indian tribes in the co-stewardship of federal lands and waters, the BLM today released formal guidelines that outline how the agency will continue to partner with tribes to ensure co-stewardship of public lands incorporates and takes take into account the contributions, values ​​and interests of the tribes.

The BLM guidelines outline specific policies and guidelines for managing federal lands and waters “in a manner that is intended to protect the treaty, religious, subsistence, and cultural interests of federally recognized tribes.” , consistent with BLM’s mission and applicable law. The BLM will adhere to the principles set out in the Joint Secretariat Order to engage Tribes in meaningful consultation from the earliest stages of planning and decision-making to provide Tribes with an opportunity to shape the direction of BLM land management.

“This policy reaffirms BLM’s commitment to our important work with tribes in the stewardship of public lands, which are the ancestral lands of Native American and Alaska Native tribes,” said BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning. . “As the nation’s largest land manager, it is critical that the BLM respect the nation-to-nation relationship that exists with Native American and Alaska Native tribes.”

Co-stewardship refers to a wide range of working relationships with Native American and Alaska Native tribes, as well as tribal consortia and tribal-led entities exercising delegated authority from federally recognized tribes. . Co-stewardship can include co-management, collaborative and cooperative management, and tribal-led stewardship, and can be implemented through cooperative agreements, memorandums of understanding, self-help agreements. – governance and other mechanisms.

The Joint Secretariat Order — signed by the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture at the 2021 White House Tribal Nations Summit — generally requires consultation and collaboration to be included in priorities and direction federal land management for recreation, rangeland, timber, power generation and other uses and the conservation of wilderness, refuges, watersheds, wildlife habitat and other values.

Under the Joint Secretariat’s order, and as outlined in guidance released today, the BLM and other offices will take five specific actions, including:

  • Ensure that all decisions consider how to protect the interests of Indian tribes;
  • enter into co-stewardship agreements, as appropriate;
  • Identify and support opportunities to consolidate tribal homelands and strengthen tribal stewardship;
  • Conduct a legal review of treaty responsibilities and powers; and

Publish a report on compliance with the Joint Secretariat Order.

The BLM’s co-stewardship policy supports the Secretary of the Interior’s priority of strengthening government-to-government relationships with tribal nations, while acknowledging the past and working toward a brighter future for Indian Country.

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