U.S. Department of the Interior
The Department of the Interior today announced next steps in the implementation of the Alaska Native Vietnam-era Veterans Land Allotment Program. While the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) reviews the previous Administration’s broad Public Lands Orders (PLOs), the bureau will expedite and process veterans’ allotment applications across the area addressed by those orders.
The Department will also conduct government-to-government consultations with federally recognized Alaska Tribes and Alaska Native Corporations to kick off Bureau of Land Management’s efforts to reconsider and correct defects identified in the decision-making process to open these lands, including lack of consultation with affected Tribes and Alaska Native Corporations.
“We have a sacred obligation to America’s veterans. I know the sacrifices made by those who serve in our military, and I will not ignore a right owed to our Alaska Native Vietnam-era veterans,” said Secretary Deb Haaland, whose father served during the Vietnam War. “Interior Department personnel are moving forward expeditiously to ensure that Alaska Native Vietnam-era veterans are able to select the land allotments they are owed, with an expansive selection area.”
The Alaska Native Vietnam Era Veterans Land Allotment Program was established by the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act of 2019. Through this program the Bureau of Land Management can provide eligible individuals the opportunity to select an allotment of up to 160 acres from vacant, unappropriated, and unreserved federal lands in Alaska or lands selected by the state or Native corporations, if that entity agrees to relinquish that portion of their selection. Lands are available for selection through December 29, 2025. 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.
In its final days, the Trump Administration attempted to open an additional 28 million acres of Bureau of Land Management-managed land in Alaska to mining and mineral development through five Public Lands Orders. The Bureau of Land Management will prioritize review of those lands in order to provide them for selection by eligible veterans and will accept applications across the 28 million acres during its review of the land orders. Based on pending applications, veteran claims would represent 0.14% of the 28 million acres of land proposed for extraction.
The Bureau of Land Management is already actively accepting and processing applications for allotments within the approximately 1.6 million acres currently available for selection by eligible veterans.
“The Bureau of Land Management is committed to expediting Alaska Native Vietnam-era veterans’ land applications, even as we review and complete the analysis for the decisions in the previous Administration's land orders,” said Bureau of Land Management Deputy Director for Policy and Programs Nada Culver. “We must make sure that any decisions we make have the benefit of Tribal input, including impacts on Indian trust assets and potential impacts to cultural resources and federal subsistence users.”
Native communities across Alaska rely on subsistence resources for their cultures and livelihoods. The attempted lands actions by the previous Administration were rushed and relied on outdated environmental analysis. As a result, they would have endangered rural subsistence preference for many Alaska Native individuals. The Bureau of Land Management has begun reaching out to potentially affected Alaska Native representatives regarding the upcoming nation-to-nation consultation.
The Interior Department has delayed the effective date for implementation of the previous Administration’s Public Lands Orders by two years in order to address the legal defects in the decision-making process for those orders. The Bureau of Land Management is first initiating consultation on the decisions made in Public Lands Orders 7899, 7900, 7901, 7902, and 7903, including issues generally related to the withdrawals more broadly. In the coming weeks, the Bureau of Land Management will announce more details on public involvement for the analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act to address those defects and to reconsider the Public Lands Order decisions.
For more information on the Alaska Native Vietnam Era Veterans Land Allotment Program, please visit Bureau of Land Management's program page.
About the U.S. Department of the Interior
The Department of the Interior (DOI) conserves and manages the Nation’s natural resources and cultural heritage for the benefit and enjoyment of the American people, provides scientific and other information about natural resources and natural hazards to address societal challenges and create opportunities for the American people, and honors the Nation’s trust responsibilities or special commitments to American Indians, Alaska Natives, and affiliated island communities to help them prosper.