BLM Proposed Rule Increases Tribal Involvement in Public Lands

Jun 30, 2023 | News

On April 3, 2023, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) published a proposed rule in the Federal Register entitled “Conservation and Landscape Health” for the public lands managed by BLM.  The proposed rule is intended to increase conservation efforts as a part of BLM’s overall mission of providing for multiple use of public lands.  The deadline to provide comments has been extended to July 5, 2023.  The proposed rule may be found here.

The proposed rule provides an important opportunity for tribes to increase management of public lands across the United States—particularly when those lands overlap with tribal lands or resources.  The proposed rule encourages collaboration and co-stewardship with tribal governments including the incorporation of indigenous knowledge in management of public lands. 

The proposed rule would also provide opportunities for tribes to nominate areas of critical environmental concern.  This could include areas with tribal cultural, natural, wildlife, or sacred resources.  

The proposed rule has attracted a lot of attention in Congress.  In the House of Representatives, Natural Resources Committee Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-AK) led Republican Members of the Committee in sending a letter to the Department of the Interior requesting the Department to extend the comment deadline. Representative John Curtis (R-UT) also introduced legislation, H.R.3397, that would require the Director of the BLM to withdraw the proposed rule.  The Committee has already approved the bill for consideration by the full House.

On the other hand, Representatives Jared Huffman (D-CA) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) led a House and Senate letter supporting the proposed rule.  The letter expressed the Representatives and Senators’ strong support of the “progress and direction” of the proposed rule.

Patterson Earnhart Real Bird & Wilson LLP is dedicated to the representation of American Indian tribes, tribal entities, and individual Indians across the United States. Our mission is to support and advance the sovereignty, self-sufficiency, and self-governance of our tribal clients. To learn more about how we can assist your tribe, contact our DC office at (202-434-8903).