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BLM to Finalize Plan for Lands in the Calista Region

Calista encourages Tribes, Village Corporations to exercise their right to consultation

Storyknife, Jan./Feb. 2020 edition

Did you know the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages more than 3.5 million acres of federal land in the eastern half of the Calista Region?

Map of BLM Land in the Calista Region

Since 2013, the BLM has been working on a new management plan for the Bering Sea-Western Interior (BSWI) region of Alaska. The area covered by this plan includes 13 million acres of BLM-managed lands in the Doyon, Calista and Bering Strait regions that aren’t in refuges managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Even though the BLM held 57 meetings with Tribes and other stakeholders while developing the plan, Calista became concerned that the draft plan published last year did not adequately protect the collective interests of our Region.

In September 2019, Calista sent letters to Tribes and Village Corporations in the Region, encouraging them to exercise their right to consultation.

Here are some of the ways Calista believes the draft plan needs revision to avoid harmful impacts to Shareholders, Village Corporations and Tribes in our Region:

  • It needs to provide adequate protections for our Shareholders to access federal and traditional lands, and Native allotments, for subsistence and cultural activities.
  • It needs to provide adequate protections for Calista, its Shareholders, and communities to access lands for resource development, local business ventures, and future community infrastructure (fiber optic expansion, electric interties, etc.).
  • It needs to avoid creating any unwarranted special land designations that could harm important projects in the region.
  • It needs to ensure the future availability of land for eligible Alaska Native Vietnam veterans to apply for allotments.

Calista raised these concerns with BLM in its public comments and in joint requests for consultation with Doyon Limited and The Kuskokwim Corporation.

The BLM is working to finalize the plan and accompanying Environmental Impact Statement later this year, along with a report responding to public comments received on the draft plan. We are hopeful that the final plan will address our concerns.

Once the final plan is published, anyone who commented on the plan and has remaining objections can protest the plan within a 30-day period. After responding to any protests it receives, the BLM will issue a Record of Decision and approved plan.

Even though the public comment period has ended, anyone can continue to contact BLM staff with questions about the plan.

We understand how frustrating and time-consuming it can be to weigh in on federal decision-making processes. Our Land & Natural Resources Department welcomes questions or comments from our Shareholders regarding the BSWI plan.

Even though the public comment period has ended, the opportunity remains for federally-recognized Tribes and ANCSA corporations to request consultation on the BSWI plan. Calista can help facilitate such requests. If your Tribe or Village Corporation needs more information on how to request consultation, please contact our Government Relations Department.