Order requires tribal input on land, water management

FAIRBANKS — Tribal knowledge will be included as much as possible in federal land and water management decisions under an Interior Department order.

The order announced Friday tells the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and Bureau of Reclamation to pursue tribal partnerships where possible, reported the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell said during the Alaska Federation of Natives annual convention that everyone could learn from tribal ecological knowledge that stretches back a millennium.

“We will be requiring tribal ecological knowledge, practices and concerns be integrated into the management of these lands and waters in the future. Our goal is to enhance land management decision-making to ensure a continued connection between tribal communities and Interior-administered lands.”

Federation President Julie Kitka said the decision is historic.

The order covers tribal input but does not extend management authority, though Jewell said talks are underway to create a co-management agreement for Ahtna region game.

“We recognize that the hunting pressure and fierce competition that the Ahtna communities experience to provide moose and caribou for their families on federal land has been very challenging,” she said. “While I don’t have anything to announce today, I’m very hopeful we can reach a formal agreement soon that provides Ahtna with a greater role in managing their traditional resources.”

Jewell encouraged the convention audience to continue pushing for collaboration through changes in presidential administrations.

“During this administration’s tenure our goal has been to identify areas that we can work together to support strong and prosperous communities,” she said. “I want to engage you in making sure that this momentum continues through a transition of administrations, which we’re about to have. Let the presidential transition teams know that it is their job to keep this going. Your voices really matter, and I’m not kidding. They really, really matter.”

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