Bureau of Indian Affairs: The Bureau of Indian Affairs mission is to enhance the quality of life, to promote economic opportunity, and to carry out the responsibility to protect and improve the trust assets of American Indians, Indian tribes and Alaska Natives. We will accomplish this through the delivery of quality services, maintaining government-to-government relationships within the spirit of Indian self-determination.
WASHINGTON -- To address concerns regarding mineral leasing and development activity adjacent to Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Deputy Secretary of the Interior Michael L. Connor today announced the U.S. Department of the Interior will expand the resource management planning effort underway in the Farmington, New Mexico area.
For the first time, the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Farmington Field Office and the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ (BIA) Navajo Regional Office will jointly conduct an expanded analysis of management in the area that covers both public and tribal lands.
“Today's announcement is an important step forward toward addressing the longstanding concerns surrounding oil and gas development around Chaco Canyon,” said Deputy Secretary Connor. “I heard these concerns firsthand when I visited Chaco last summer to participate in a public listening session with Senator Udall. BIA's decision to join BLM's planning effort as a co-lead reflects the complex land tenure around the park and demonstrates the Department's commitment to ensuring that the region's rich cultural and archaeological resources are protected.”
The BLM initiated a process to update its Resource Management Plan for the area – which guides development activities on public lands there – in 2014. In support of expanding the planning effort to include tribal lands in the area, the BLM and the BIA are seeking public comments to identify issues and concerns related to including BIA-managed mineral leasing and associated activities in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which is being prepared as part of the Resource Management Plan Amendment (RMP) Amendment. This expanded effort will look at the whole planning area, and will include mineral leasing and development activity around Chaco Culture National Historic Park.
The joint effort also reflects the Department of the Interior’s emphasis on working with Native American leaders to provide expanded opportunities for integrating traditional knowledge and expertise in the management of public lands that have a special historical, cultural or geographic connection with indigenous communities.
In June of 2015, Deputy Secretary Connor and Senator Tom Udall toured the Chaco Canyon area to see the sensitive archeological site and view the area beyond the park where drilling is proposed. After the visit to Chaco, Connor and Udall held meetings with interested stakeholders.
A Notice of Intent to prepare the RMP Amendment and conduct an EIS will be published in the Federal Register on October 21, 2016, which will formally open a 60-day public scoping period ending on December 20, 2016. The information gathered during this new scoping process will be added to the information already gathered as part of the BLM’s prior scoping process for the EIS.
As part of the scoping process, the BLM and the BIA will be hosting public scoping meetings at the following locations, dates, and times:
Shiprock Chapter House
|November 10 (Tentative)
Huerfano Chapter House
Counselor Chapter House
Nageezi Chapter House
Ojo Encino Chapter House
Whitehorse Lake Chapter House
Navajo Technical University
Navajo Nation Museum
The BLM and BIA are asking that input be received within the 60-day scoping period, ending December 20, 2016, or 15 days after the last meeting, whichever is later.
Input may be submitted by mail to BLM Farmington Field Office, Attention: Mark Ames, Project Manager, 6251 North College Blvd., Suite A, Farmington, New Mexico 87402; by email to BLM_NM_FFO_Comments@blm.gov, or by fax to 505-564-7608.
For the BIA, please contact Harrilene Yazzie, BIA Regional National Environmental Policy Act Coordinator at 505-863-8287, P.O. Box 1060, Gallup, New Mexico 87301, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional information is available online at FARMINGTON RMP: MANCOS-GALLUP AMENDMENT.
Agreement to Amend
The Department of the Interior today announced approval of a coal mining and electric power development lease by Utah Construction Company, San Francisco, Calif., embracing some 24,000 acres on the Navajo Indian Reservation just south of Fruitland, New Mexico.
The lease, which runs for 10 years and as long thereafter as the coal is produced "in paying quantities”, was signed on September 2) by Allen D. Christensen; president of Utah Construction, and on October 1 by Paul Jones, chairman of the Navajo Tribal Council. It was approved October 21 by Commissioner of Indian Affairs Glenn L. Emmons in his capacity as trustee for the Navajo tribal lands.
The area covered by the lease is a long, narrow strip of land about 25 miles in length and only approximately two miles across at the widest point. Within this area the company has the exclusive right to mine for coal and to develop thermal power facilities. The tribe, however, reserves the right to use or lease the surface of the area for other purposes wherever there will be no interference with the mining operations.
Rentals to be paid the tribe by the Company will be at the rate of 25 cents per acre for the first year, 50 cents per acre for the second and third years, and $1 per acre for each year thereafter. Royalty payments will be 15 cents a ton for coal and 10 percent of the f.o.b. sales price on all related products or byproducts recovered except for uranium which will be covered by the tribe’s existing Percentage Royalty Schedule.
Rental payments, which are to be made in advance in each year, will be credited against the royalty payments accruing in that particular year.
In addition to reserving the surface rights in the leased area, the tribe also retains the right to lease the lands for oil and gas development. Drilling and other related activities, however, will not be permitted, except with the approval of the Company, in a "corridor" 3,300 feet wide running the full length of the strip which the Company will designate for its exclusive mining use. Oil and gas pipelines may be built across the leased area, including the corridor, at three designated points provided that certain construction requirements are met.
The Company has agreed to sell the Tribe power at wholesale bus bar rates for use within the Reservation, to employ Navajo Indians when available and qualified and pay them prevailing wages, and to use the services of Navajo contractors whenever feasible in its judgment. It has also agreed to submit a full plan of development for the area to the Secretary of the Interior for approval within five years. If this requirement is not met, the lease is subject to cancellation.
WASHINGTON – Lawrence S. Roberts, who is leading the Office of the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs, announced today that the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) has extended its deadline for nominations of qualified individuals to serve on a negotiated rulemaking committee (NRC) that will recommend revisions to its school accountability system. Nominees are being sought from federally recognized tribes whose students attend BIE-funded schools.
The new deadline for nominations, a notice of which was published this month in the Federal Register, is on or before October 3, 2016. The BIE initially published its announcement for nominations last November with a deadline of December 24, 2015. That deadline was later extended to May 31, 2016.
“The BIE is seeking invested, energetic and knowledgeable persons for its Accountability Negotiated Rulemaking Committee who will have the opportunity to help the Bureau in developing new standards, assessments and an accountability system for all BIE-funded schools, as mandated under the Every Student Succeeds Act,”Roberts said. “I urge tribes with children in BIE-funded schools to submit nominations, particularly of individuals who have strong backgrounds in Indian education, are knowledgeable about the BIE school system, and understand what is needed for our schools to better serve their students and communities.”
Section 8007(2) of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which reauthorizes and amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, directs the Secretary of the Interior, in consultation with the Secretary of Education, to use the NRC process to develop regulations that define standards, assessments and an accountability system for BIE-funded schools on a national, regional or tribal basis. The regulations must be consistent with Section 1111 of the ESSA, which requires them to be developed in a manner that considers the unique circumstances and needs of the schools and their students, and be implemented no later than the 2017-2018 academic year.
Because the ESSA preserves the right of the schools and tribes to seek a waiver from being subject to the Interior Department’s accountability system, the Accountability NRC’s regulations will not affect the ability of individual schools and tribes to develop account ability systems that best meet their academic and cultural needs.
For example, the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians has successfully developed its own accountability system and the Navajo Nation is in the process of doing so. Their approved accountability systems will be exempt from the BIE’s single accountability system. The remainder of BIE-funded schools, however, will be subject to the NRC-developed standards, assessments and accountability system.
Nominations must include the following information for each Accountability NRC nominee:
Although the deadline for nominations is October 3, 2016, the BIE will still consider individuals whose nominations were submitted by the December 24, 2015 or May 31, 2016 deadlines.
Send nominations to: Ms. Jackie Cheek, Bureau of Indian Education, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street, N.W., MS-3642-MIB, Washington, DC 20240, phone: (202) 208–6983.
The Office of the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs oversees the Bureau of Indian Education, which implements federal Indian education programs and funds 183 elementary and secondary day and boarding schools (of which two-thirds are tribally operated) located on 64 reservations in 23 states and peripheral dormitories serving over 40,000 students. BIE also operates two post-secondary schools, and administers grants for 28 tribally controlled colleges and universities and two tribal technical colleges, and provides higher education scholarships to Native youth. For more information, visit www.bie.edu.