The Department of the Interior today announced that it has completed the final step to begin processing applications received from eligible Alaska Native Vietnam-era veterans on approximately 27 million acres of public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Via the Federal Register tomorrow morning, Secretary Deb Haaland will issue a Public Land Order that opens these lands for selection and conveyance, pursuant to the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act of 2019. Through the Alaska Native Vietnam Era Veterans Land Allotment Program, the BLM is providing eligible individuals the opportunity to select an allotment of up to 160 acres from available federal lands in Alaska.
“This announcement is a significant accomplishment in honoring our sacred obligation to America’s veterans,” said Secretary Haaland, whose father served during the Vietnam War. “The Department is proud to move forward expeditiously so that Alaska Native Vietnam-era veterans are able to select the land allotments they are owed, with an expansive selection area.”
Secretary Haaland and BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning announced the Department’s intent to open these lands during a visit to Anchorage in April 2022.
Previously, there were approximately 1.2 million acres of available federal lands open to allotment selection. This new Order provides allottees with approximately 28.3 million acres to select from. This represents the third time that federally managed land has been offered to Alaska Native Vietnam veterans, who did not have access to land allotments while serving during the Vietnam War.
Secretary Haaland’s Order partially revokes 15 Orders issued in 1972 and 1973 in accordance with the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and Executive Order 10355 for the sole purpose of allowing Alaska Native Vietnam-era veterans to select allotments from lands within the Kobuk-Seward Peninsula, Ring of Fire, Bay, Bering Sea Western Interior, and East Alaska planning areas.
Subject to valid existing rights, the lands described in the Public Lands Order will be open to selection and application processing starting at 8 a.m. AKST on Sept. 14, 2022. The BLM has already received approximately 203 applications for allotments on these lands. All valid applications received prior to the opening date shall be considered simultaneously filed at that time. Those received thereafter shall be considered in the order of filing.