Bureau of Land Management begins analysis of Public Land Orders and opens 60-day public comment period

Environmental Impact Statement to evaluate ANCSA withdrawals on BLM-managed lands in Alaska


Bureau of Land Management

BLM Office:

Alaska State Office

Media Contact:

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The Bureau of Land Management announced today it will prepare an environmental impact statement to consider the effects of opening lands currently subject to withdrawals established pursuant to Section 17(d)(1) of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) on lands within the Bay, Bering Sea-Western Interior, East Alaska, Kobuk-Seward Peninsula, and Ring of Fire planning areas, and opened a 60-day public comment period regarding the scope of that analysis.

The environmental impact statement will review public lands orders that were previously prepared but not issued. In 2020 and 2021, the BLM prepared Public Land Orders 7899, 7900, 7901, 7902, and 7903, which would have opened BLM-managed land to activities such as mining and oil and gas development, by revoking ANCSA Section 17(d)(1) withdrawals for approximately 28 million acres within the five planning areas. However, legal defects were identified in the decision-making process that led to these orders. As a result, the opening order for Public Land Order 7899 was deferred until April 16, 2023, and publication of the remaining public land orders was deferred until completion of further review.

The BLM is now addressing the legal defects in the decision-making process, including ensuring compliance with the requirements of National Environmental Policy Act.

Today’s announcement follows the Department of the Interior’s recent announcement issuing a Public Land Order to open 27 million acres of public lands for selection and conveyance for eligible Alaska Native Vietnam-era veterans pursuant to the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act of 2019.

The BLM requests comments concerning the scope of the analysis, potential alternatives, and identification of relevant information by Oct. 17, 2022. The successful outcome of this project relies on meaningful input from federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, Alaska Native Tribes and Corporations, numerous State of Alaska agencies, and the affected communities. The BLM will engage in Tribal and Alaska Native Corporation consultation as part of this process.

The BLM encourages the public to provide comments during the 60-day comment period, particularly concerning the adequacy and accuracy of the previous analysis, potential alternatives, and any new information that would help develop the final plan. Comments may be submitted online.

By Mail: BLM Alaska State Office
222 W. 7th Ave, Stop #13
Anchorage, AK 99513

Before including personal identifying information (address, email, phone number), commenters should be aware that their entire comment – including their personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time. While those commenting can ask in their comments to have this information withheld from public review, the BLM cannot guarantee that it will be able to do so.

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The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.